Councilman Mooney Calls For Drastic Cut to Council Members' Salaries
John Mooney proposed cutting salaries down to nearly nothing. The move was called political grandstanding by both Democrats and Republicans.
Councilman John Mooney attempted to introduce a proposal to cut the amount of pay each council member gets by about $8,000, and the amount of money the mayor receives by close to $8,800 at the council meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 9.
It was a motion that received no second, and a gesture that was seen as politically motivated by both Democratic and Republican observers.
The Republican Mooney, who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by Councilman Dennis Kleiner in August, is running for that seat in November’s election against Democratic candidate Jim McElwee. The winner of the special election will fill the seat for the rest of the term, through the end of 2013.
Mooney’s proposal would’ve cut pay for council members from about $8,000 to $1 a year, and pay for the mayor from $8,800 to $1.50 a year.
According to Mooney, he asked for such a drastic cut because he felt if every council member gave back that amount of money from their salary, the township would be able to save the job of one law enforcement officer.
The proposal, which council members first learned about during Tuesday’s meeting, didn’t specify a time limit, so the salaries would remain in place until the ordinance could be revisited at a later date, Mooney said.
The township recently delivered notices of possible layoffs to nearly every township employee. Final layoff notices will be delivered no later than Nov. 16, so that layoffs can be in effect by the start of 2013.
“The ordinance has been introduced, it has to be discussed and adopted, and put in place by Jan. 1,” Mooney said, insisting he wasn’t making the proposal for political purposes.
“This essentially makes this a volunteer position,” Deputy Mayor and fellow Republican Tony Coppola said after looking over the proposal. “If the rest of council is in favor of this, I’ll go along with it, but I think it will reduce interest in doing it. I spend several days a week in this building, and I know the mayor spends several days a week in this building, but not everyone out there shares our commitment, and I think doing this would compromise interest. I caution against doing something out of haste and because it looks good. It’s difficult to find good people to do this work.”
Republican Mayor Don Purdy spoke about driving to Trenton in his capacity as mayor, but having no township vehicle and not being compensated for gas. He also spoke about time he and other council members have to spend away from their families.
“I think people designate a lot of time to this job and we’re going down the wrong road,” Purdy said. “If people are doing this for a dollar, you’re going to have people with large pensions who are coming here to do this just so they can hear themselves speak.”
He then stated that council members in other towns make three times the amount of money council members in Galloway make.
“A lot of us aren’t in the same place financially. We have to spend a lot of time making phone calls and driving,” said Democratic Councilman Jim Gorman, who said council members make $8.50 an hour based on a 20-hour week. “This is political grandstanding and I’m against it.”
“When we had to get rid of our health care plans, we did. When the employees gave back their furlough days, so did we,” Purdy said. “We have a lot of expenses no one sees.
“A lot of respect needs to be given to this job, and when we don’t do that, the township and council suffers. If we do this, I don’t think it’s fair to council members in the future and to the township, knowing what’s at stake. I agree with Councilman Gorman.”
McElwee concurred with Purdy and Gorman.
“It was political grandstanding,” McElwee said after the meeting. “It was arrogant. … No one’s getting rich doing this. This is something you do because you want Galloway to be a better place.”
Purdy questioned why the rest of council didn’t hear about the proposal until Mooney put it forth in public Tuesday night.
“We could’ve discussed this in private before the meeting,” Purdy said. “When you want me to do a proclamation, you have no problem sending me an email, but you come here tonight and pass this out? I don’t want to hear it.”
Mooney put forth a motion to have the ordinance introduced, but there was no second. Following the meeting, he said he would look into the possibility of having his salary waived.
“I’m disappointed it didn’t get a second,” Mooney said. “I understand other council members might be upset I didn’t give it to them ahead of time. In my short time as a councilman, I’ve come to this dais and found things added to the agenda for me to consider, and I had to address it regardless of whether I prepared for it before the meeting.”
"He blindsided them,” McElwee said. “He could’ve done it in a better way. … After that, I don’t see how he’s going to be able to cooperate with the rest of council.”