NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — City Council members could receive a raise that would increase their pay by thousands of dollars over the next several years.
New Brunswick’s governing body introduced an ordinance to establish the rising pay scale last night during its Feb. 15 meeting. Before the council votes on the measure, residents may speak about the proposal at the council’s 6:30 p.m. March 1 meeting in City Hall.
“If we did a cost-of-living analysis,” Council President Glen Fleming told TAPinto New Brunswick tonight, “most people would think it would be fair.”
Holding a council seat is not considered a full-time job. The council president currently makes $9,500 per year, according to municipal code. Individual council members each make $9,000 per year.
Those pay rates have been in place since July 1997, according to New Brunswick’s municipal code.
If the proposed ordinance is adopted, the council president would earn $11,000 in 2017, for an increase of $1,500. That number would rise to $12,500 in 2019 and $14,000 in 2021, according to the ordinance.
Four years from now, the council president’s pay hike would equal $4,500. That’s an increase of roughly 47 percent from the current pay.
If the proposed ordinance is adopted, council members would each earn $10,500 in 2017, for an increase of $1,500. By 2019, that figure would rise to $12,000 and then to $13,500 in 2021, according to the ordinance.
The final raise would also boost council members’ pay by $4,500. That represents a 50 percent increase above their current pay.
“I didn’t get on the council, and I didn’t run for office to try to make money or enrich myself,” Fleming said in a phone call. “But we sacrifice a lot.”
Fleming noted that council members often work for New Brunswick outside of public meetings, fielding calls from residents and attending events. He said the officials also spend money on gas to travel to various obligations.
The proposed pay hike came about “organically,” Fleming said, adding that it has “been in the works for a while.”
Council members declined to discuss the proposed pay raise during this week’s public meeting. One resident who spoke took issue with the measure.
“There are some people who are going to complain about everything,” Fleming later told TAPinto New Brunswick. “We’re not asking for Newark money.”
Council members in Newark reportedly make close to $100,000 per year and receive perks like city cars.
But council members in Perth Amboy reportedly earn $10,000 per year. That city’s council president, meanwhile, makes $12,000. Woodbridge’s council president and council members reportedly earn less than $10,000 per year.
In neighboring Edison, the governing body last year approved pay hikes that give the council president a maximum of $13,000 per year and council members $12,000 per year.
New Brunswick's mayor, Jim Cahill, has earned $40,000 annually since he was elected in 1991. This ordinance would not affect his annual pay, which he receives for a job that is considered part-time.