NEWTON, NJ – Public portions of most government meetings are a time for complaints, but the Sussex County Freeholders found themselves complimented by members of the public.
Anne Smolowicz of Wantage is a frequent attendee at freeholder meetings. On Wednesday, June 27, she told the freeholders they do not make enough money. Freeholders in Sussex County make $23,000 a year, with an extra $1,000 for the director. Smolowicz said the freeholders deserve $100,000 a year.
“It’s not a part-time job,” she said.
She was not as happy about an adjustment in base salaries for the county clerk and surrogate. She said the $107,000 salary is plenty. She did not object to the same adjustment for the sheriff.
"Absolutely, the sheriff is always on call,” she said.
The freeholders passed a resolution allowing for a salary adjustment for the three employees who are not covered by the bargaining unit for county employees.
Freeholder Director Richard Vohden explained state law requires constitutional officials be paid 65 percent of the salary for Superior Court Judges. The county clerk, surrogate and sheriff have not received a raise for three years, he added.
Freeholder Phillip Crabb explained it would put a freeholder board into a difficult position if they had more control over the salaries of constitutional officers.
“Politics could come into it,” he said.
The freeholders fielded other questions about spending money, specifically about the special elections to fill the Senate seat of the late Frank Lautenberg.
Vohden pointed out the state legislature passed a bill combining the primary and general election.
County Administrator John Eskilson said the election would probably be funded through an emergency authorization in next year’s budget.
Vohden said in spite of the expense, the board does not “want to object to a constitutional right to vote.”
In routine business of the meeting, the board awarded the final change order to a contract for replacement of the Glen Road bridge in Sparta.
The bridge, which carries County Route 620 over Sparta Glen Brook, was destroyed in 2000 during a freak storm. The total cost of replacement of the bridge is $902,237.50.
During the freeholder comment period, Freeholder George Graham reported he attended the last meeting of the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board. “The herbicides are working,”
During his comments, Vohden, said the Transportation Planning Authority approved an amendment to the Transportation Infrastructure Plan to fund the lining of the Roseville Tunnel on the Lackawanna Cutoff.
Concerns about the Byram Township tunnel, one of the longest on the century-old cutoff, were holding up approval of reopening the rail line.
The TPA will apply for permits for the new passenger station to be built in Andover, Vohden said. The site of the station will be slightly different from that of the original plans and construction cannot begin until November because of the presence of the endangered Indiana bat in the area.
As is usual in early summer, most of the routine action involved road work, patching, surfacing and striping, but the freeholders also authorized a shared services agreement among Sussex and Hunterdon, Morris and Warren counties, to provide temporary inmate housing in the event of any emergency prisoner evacuations in one of the four counties.
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