RARITAN, NJ - With an explanation not released because it is a personnel matter, the public has been left with few answers regarding the Raritan borough council's pending decision to terminate borough administrator Dan Jaxel.
Personnel matters are off limits for public discussion by the mayor and council so no explanation has been given regarding the termination.
On Dec. 30, Jaxel, 65, received a Rice Notice, a notification from a public body that it is going to discuss an individual's employment at an upcoming meeting.
Since legally, by statute, the borough can end his employment with either three months severance pay or three months notice, Jaxel hired attorney Steven Farsiou to help him negotiate the terms of his release.
Farsiou, a partner in the Flemington law firm of Trinity & Farsiou, spoke out at the Jan. 28 council meeting.
Jaxel has worked for the borough for over 35 years, Farsiou said. He has a “pristine” personnel file and, under his watch, the borough has maintained a AA+ bond rating.
“This decision is not in the best interest of the taxpayers,” Farsiou told the mayor and council.
He added that this is a very significant decision that will have an impact on other employees. The implication, he said, is that no matter how hard you work or for how long, there won’t be any appreciation shown and, with a 2/3 vote of the council, you can find yourself unemployed without cause.
This paints a terrible picture and sends a bad message, Farsiou said, and it’s a stain on the borough's reputation.
Yet seeing the termination as inevitable, Farsiou told the governing body that Jaxel has always worked in the best interest of the town and his coworkers.
“He is someone who should be a part of the decision about when to leave," he said. "Be fair. Do the right thing.”
Jaxel chose to have the dialogue about his employment held in a public forum. Councilman Pablo Orozco called for a discussion during the council meeting, but councilman Michael Patente made a motion to table the discussion and councilwoman Joyce Melitsky seconded it, so the public was left in the dark about the reason for the pending action.
At some point, the council will have to vote in open session to implement the statute terminating Jaxel’s employment.
When he leaves, Jaxel will have over 900 days of unused sick and vacation time, although state statute does not necessarily require the borough to pay it out, depending on his contract with the borough.