SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Scotch Plains Township Council and Municipal Manager Jerry Giaimis have negotiated a separation agreement in which Giaimis will leave after just 18 months in the position.
Under terms approved on Tuesday evening by the council in a 3-2 vote along party lines, Giaimis will receive 21 weeks of separation pay along with healthcare benefits for a year.
"It's stunning that on their way out the door, the Republican majority would give a sweetheart package to someone who had served only 18 months," said Scotch Plains Democratic chair Linda Stender.
The township's previous business manager Henry Underhill, who resigned in March 2013 after six months in the position, received 18 weeks of pay, while Jerry Giaimis is getting 21 weeks and a year of individual healthcare coverage because of his longer time of service to the township.
"The package is similar to what was given to the previous manager, Henry Underhill, who served six months in the position," said Councilman Bo Vastine. "Jerry Giaimis worked in a hostile work environment almost from day one. We did well to limit our exposure to any potential law suits with this agreement, which is a fair one."
Giaimis and Mayor Kevin Glover periodically clashed over the past few months over bill lists, funding for restoration of the Shady Rest clubhouse, and other issues, including Glover's belief that the manager did not respond to his phone calls in a timely manner. During a hotly contested election season, Giaimis, an unaffiliated voter, frequently was in the center of political disagreements between the Democrats and Republicans on the Council.
"The package was out of line with what we have done in the past. Paying for healthcare for a full year is unprecedented and unwarranted. The lame duck majority supported this extremely generous separation agreement over what I believe was the best interest of the Scotch Plains tax payers," said Mayor Glover.
"I was the fifth manager in a five-year period of time. There is a lack of stability," Giaimis said in a phone interview with TAP into SPF this morning. "It's no secret that the political situation was tough in Scotch Plains, and unfortunately, I had to navigate those waters."
"I think it's very unhealthy for the town of Scotch Plains to be constantly churning the manager position. If you saw a company repeatedly turning over the CEO position, you wouldn't invest in it," said Councilman Llewellyn Jones, the only Republican remaining on the Council after Jan. 1, 2015. "Elections have consequences. The Democrats won enough seats to make change happen. In the best interest of the town, we negotiated a fair separation agreement."
The Scotch Plains Council hired Giaimis in June 2013 with Kevin Glover casting the lone dissenting vote. For the past year and a half, Giaimis has been responsible for the strategic direction of the municipality's $24 million budget, overseeing 100+ employees, and handling collective bargaining agreements, human resources issues, and procurements.
As Chief Executive Officer of the Township, the Municipal Manager is responsible for coordinating day-to-day operations and delivering public services to the residents of Scotch Plains. Appointed by the Township Council, the position's responsibilities include:
- Implementing the policies of governing body
- Supervising and coordinating the work of all Township departments
- Public relations/public information
- Personnel issues
- Preparation of the annual budget and capital budget
- Maintaining an ongoing review and analysis of budget operations, work programs, and costs of municipal services
- Contract negotiations
Previously, Giaimis served for three years as the township manager in Vernon, NJ, and as the assistant township manager in Randolph. Prior to that, he was administrator of the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council. In his early 20s, he served as a councilman in the borough of Washington, NJ. Giaimis graduated with a BA in Political Science from Rutgers-Newark and earned his Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Central Michigan University.
TAP into SPF will run an exclusive interview with Jerry Giamis tomorrow.