VERONA, NJ - It’s a little more expensive to fall in love in Verona these days. As they say, nothing in life is free, even love. The town council adopted an ordinance at its Monday meeting establishing a $100 fee for officiating a marriage, civil union, or domestic partner ceremony by township officials.
Previously there was no charge for the service. The ordinance that passed 3-2, actually amended township code, creating the $100 fee while also setting the maximum fee for a public defender application at $200..
Township Manager Matthew Cavallo explained that one of the first things that Mayor Kevin Ryan pointed out to him when he began his tenure with the township two years ago was that Verona did not charge a fee to officiate marriages, while other local townships did. According to Cavallo the state of New Jersey does allow municipalities to charge for the service, however the money cannot go directly to the officiant. Instead it must go to the township’s current fund. It can then be distributed to the officiant via salary ordinance, but that is not what Verona intends to do.
“What we are planning to do here is the money collected in the current year will be budgeted in the subsequent year into a line item in the budget,” Cavallo explained. “It will be used to purchase of safety equipment by the Verona Rescue Squad and the Verona Fire Department.”
While the ordinance passed, there were two dissenting votes from Councilmen Ted Giblin and Alex Roman.
“I think there are people out there who may not have the resources to pay for this,” Giblin said. “I think Verona’s been able to administer weddings for the last 110 years without charging. My feeling is that at least for the marriages and so forth I could not be in favor of it. I support the public defender fee but they are bundled together.”
Roman also expressed reservation noting that the township already allots money to the purchase of safety equipment and that the fees collected would not be significant enough to make an impact.
“I know why we’re doing this, but I’m a little lukewarm on charging. Ted makes a very good point. If someone really wants to get married, we shouldn’t be the ones standing in the way,” Roman said. “Sometimes I think we charge fees on things just to charge fees on things.”
Councilman Jack MacEvoy voiced his support of the ordinance, noting that the fee is minimal and would go to a good cause, while Dep. Mayor Michael Nochimson said he would have supported a higher fee.
“”Well originally I was for a $200 fee. I think $100 is very reasonable. Charging nothing doesn’t make any sense,” said Nochimson. “I think in life you teach your kids there’s nothing for free.”
Mayor Ryan said that while he understood Giblin and Roman’s concerns,he supported the ordinance noting there are many other options for people to get married if they cannot afford Verona’s fee.
“If someone really wants to get married, there are ways of doing it,” Ryan said. “And I’m going to disagree with you to an extent Alex-- while it may seem like a token amount of money it’s still money that wasn’t there before.”
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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