The City Council introduced a salary ordinance Monday night that would slash the mayor’s salary by 68 percent, drawing a 5-minute rebuke from Mayor Rick Proctor in which he called the move an abuse of legislative power and political retribution.
The ordinance (O-38-11), which will be up for a final vote and public hearing at the Dec. 12 meeting, would set an annual salary for the mayor’s position of $20,809 — a 68-percent reduction from $65,000. The salary ordinance passed 8-0 (one absent) and would take effect Jan. 1. City Council members, who received a roughly 2 percent increase in the previous salary ordinance adopted in September, would remain at the same pay level of $8,043 in the new ordinance ($9,676 for the council president).
“This isn’t about Rahway. This is about a political falling out and an abuse of legislative power. This is a personal vendetta, not public policy. This is not about Rahway, this is about vindictiveness. Am I bitter? Yeah, I am. I’m human,” said Proctor, adding that he took a $50,000 pay cut to run for mayor.
Proctor said $50,000 could be saved if City Council members cut their salary by 68 percent. He rattled off figures indicating that from 2005 to 2011, certain department heads saw their salaries rise as much as 30 to 40 percent. During the same six-year period, the mayor said City Council increased its own salary by 18 percent. “That’s preposterous, and sends a very clear message to the public that you’re either going to sleep through this recession or feel entitled to inflict economic pain to insulate yourself from sacrifices,” said Proctor. “I’m certain that the public will recognize that this ordinance stinks of retribution,” he said.
“Every day the people of Rahway suffering from economic hardship and the only solution you can come up with is to pick my pocket,” said Proctor. “That is inspired leadership.”
The mayor has been at odds with the City Council, as well as City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier, since at least the summer, when the governing body rejected his bid to add staff within his office, and claimed he tried to have his wife hired as health officer.