BERNARDS TWP. - The Bernards Township Committee has given preliminary approval to raise the salary and wage guide for 135 non-union township employees by between 1.8 to 2 percent, and to create a new position of assistant police chief within the Bernards police department.

However, there are no immediate plans to give raises to employees, or to appoint a new assistant police chief, township officials said

The salary guide sets a range for the pay rate of positions in township government. Township Chief Financial Officer Terri Johnson said actualy raises will be awarded later in July of this year.

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Individual employees will receive raises based on performance, she said.

"The salary ordinance does not dictate an employee’s increase, it only sets the ranges for the positions. We have a pay for performance program that determines an employee’s annual increase," she said later in an email.

This year the township budgeted 1.9 percent for the average wage increase, with the total budget for salary and wages lower than last year because of retirements, she explained. 

But Johnson told Township Committee this week that Bernards had to raise its pay rates a little to attract applicants for open jobs with the municipality.

"We think it's essential to keep our salaries competitive," Johnson said.  

The township had seven retirements last year, and seven more this year, as well as three resignations in 2015 and two more so far this year, she said. Additionally, the township has not been receiving as many resumes as in past for open positions, she noted.

Current police chief due to retire

Another retirement on the horizon is the expected departure of Police Chief Brian Bobowicz, who is close to three years beyond the eligible retirement age for police.

The new position of assistant police chief, which if filled would be instead of having a police captain, could help groom a successor to the current police chief, Johnson said. However, she said there are no immediate plans to appoint an officer as assistant police chief, a non-union position that allows the assistant chief access to training only available to chiefs or assistant chiefs.

However, in appointing a new police chief, there would be no requirement for the Township Committee to select whoever is filling the position of assistant police chief, Johnson said.

The ordinance updating the salary ordinance and creating a new assistant police chief's position is up for a final Township Committee vote at a meeting scheduled for 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28.