RARITAN, NJ - Despite an agreement to have a resolution come before them, the Raritan Borough Council voted 4-1 against a proposal to increase salaries for the council members and mayor in the coming years.
The proposal was made by councilman James Foohey at the Jan. 10 meeting and was brought to resolution Jan. 24.
Foohey said the council has not seen an increase in salary in the last 12 years, and there have only been two increases in the last 30 years. He said he was proposing more than doubling the salaries, from $1,500 per year for council members to $3,500 and $2,000 per year for the mayor to $4,000.
“It’s not just about money,” he said. “It’s getting harder and harder to find people to run for council.”
Foohey said this is a bipartisan issue, especially because in the 2016 elections, one party had no candidate at all.
“We are finding new people who are on the fence about running, and in the past we had an additional incentive because there were health benefits,” he said. “If we had a better salary, we could say it’s like a part time job.”
Foohey said his obligation is twofold, first as an elected official and secondly, because he gets a small check every three months, he is a part-time employee.
“Ideally you want to do this for the public service, but it is getting harder and harder to find people to run,” he said. “As such, (with the raise), I think it might be easier to find people who want to run.”
Foohey said it would not be a tax burden to approve the increase, it amounts to roughly $4.50 per year from each household.
“And once this is set, I am sure it will stay for the next 12 or 15 years,” he said. “This is something that I feel needs to be done now.”
The resolution was not discussed at the Jan. 24 meeting, but was voted down.