Westfield Leader and Scotch Plains–Fanwood Times

Freeholders OK Raises To Dept. Directors, Employees

The Westfield Leader and The Scotch Plains–Fanwood Times — Thursday, December 11, 2008

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

ELIZABETH — The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will not receive a pay raise next year, but its department heads and employees will see salary increases.

At last Thursday's board meeting, the freeholders voted to continue their salaries at $29,500, with the chairman earning $31,500, and the vice-chairman at $30,500. The freeholders have not given themselves a raise since 2006.

Department directors would receive raises of between 1.5 and 6 percent under an ordinance introduced last week and to be adopted following a second reading on Thursday, December 11.

County Manager George Devanney's salary is to be increased by $4,500 to $168,336; Deputy Manager Elizabeth Genievich's, who heads the department of administrative services, wage will go up by $4,000 to $146,357; County Counsel Robert Barry will make $149,500, a hike of $3,600, and Parks and Community Renewal Director Al Faella's new wage will be $120,300, a hike of $7,000.

Public Safety Director Richard Childs will earn $113,470, a $2,300 increase; Finance Director Larry Caroselli, will be paid $ 131,771, a $2,600 hike; Human Services Director Frank Guzzo's salary will be $131,340, up $3,500, and Correctional Services Director Brian Riordan will make $117,300, a boost of $2,300.

In addition, the freeholders passed a resolution to increase Nicole DiRado's, clerk of the board, salary to $92,196, a 2.8 percent or $2,500 increase over this year's salary.

The board also approved 3 percent raises for the county's Sheriff Ralph Froehlich, County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi and Surrogate James LaCorte. Their salaries for 2009 will be $147,000, up $4,300 from 2008.

Also, non-union employees will be eligible for merit-based raises averaging 3 percent for 2008 retroactive to July 1. In 2009, Mr. Devanney said employees earning over $90,000 will not receive increases, those earning over $50,000 would be eligible for a hike of 2 percent, with those making under $50,00 eligible for 3 percent pay increases.

He said all pay raises are retroactive to July 1, 2008, as opposed to January 1, 2008, saving the county $500,000. Also, he said the county would save another $180,000 by implementing health insurance co-pays to non-union workers.

On another matter, the board approved three resolutions for a total of $477,000 for contracts with This is It! Concept and Event Productions of Hoboken to "plan, produce and promote" the Kids Kingdom Traveling Jubilee series, the R&B By The Brook Festival and MusicFest for next year. An additional $27,500 was approved for a consulting services contract with Across the River, LLC of Cranford for MusicFest.

Kenilworth resident John Bury said he felt the This Is It! $265,000 MusicFest contract "just seems way out of line."

Mr. Devanney said the county expects to offset costs by raising $250,000 in corporate sponsorships for MusicFest and using money from a $400,000 insurance claim collected by the county after this year's event was cut short due to rain. He said MusicFest "in essence pays for itself."

Tina Renna of Cranford, president of the Union County Watchdog Association, questioned how money given to the Union County Arts Center to book talent at MusicFest has been spent.

"If I can't get this information, that speaks for itself," she said, adding that she continues to request paperwork on the total costs associated with MusicFest 2008.

Next year's MusicFest will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13, 2009, at Nomahegan Park in Cranford. The R&B concert will be at Cedar Brook in Plainfield on Saturday, June 6,2009. The Kids Kingdom series will be held at the R&B and MusicFest events, as well as on Sunday, July 12 at Mount Carmel Hall in Berkeley Heights and Sunday, August 16 at Conant Park in Hillside.

Board members noted the passing of former Union County Freeholders Elmer Ertle, 82, and Walter McLeod, 76, and current Middlesex County Freeholder Director David Crabiel, 78. Mr. Ertle, a former Roselle mayor and councilman, and Mr. McLeod, a former Rahway councilman, served on the board in the 1990s.

Prior to the meeting, Mr. Faella told The Westfield Leader and The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times that the county's newly created foreclosure task force held its first meeting Tuesday afternoon. The panel includes Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson Briggs, Union Mayor Clifton People and Assemblyman Jerry Green (LD-20, Plainfield).

Also included are counseling agencies such as the Urban League of Union County and New Jersey Citizen Action Group, and the regional office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, community development and construction code officials, as well as Mr. Faella and Mr. Guzzo.

The board will hold its final meetings of the year on Thursday, December 18 with an agenda session starting at 7 p.m. followed by the regular meeting. The board's reorganization meeting will be held starting at noon on Sunday, January 4, in the court room of State Superior Court Judge Walter Barisonek.

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