Sunday, March 12, 2006

Raises In Store For City Officials, Workers

Two top city officials are up for raises that will tip their salaries into six figures this year.

City Clerk Laddie Wyatt and Chief Financial Officer Peter Sepelya hold the offices affected by a salary amendment the City Council passed on first reading at the March 6 meeting. The ordinance will be up for second reading and final passage on March 20.

The ordinance gives raises retroactive to 2002, when each official received $86,570. Increases proposed for 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 will elevate that amount by 17 percent to $101,498.

Both Wyatt and Sepelya are eligible for retirement and the salary hike will result in higher pensions for each.

Sepelya was supposed to retire at the end of 2005, but stayed on as the new administration of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs took over Jan. 1, 2006. Ray Blanco, now the City Council president, joked in December that the council was not letting him go. The council declined to pass the budget for the 2006 fiscal year until the new administration came in.

Sepelya served as Plainfield’s chief financial officer from 1972 to 1987, then held similar posts with Hunterdon County and Bridgewater before returning to the city in 2000.

Wyatt was named city clerk by former Mayor Richard L. Taylor and served the administrations of former mayors Harold Mitchell, Mark Fury and Albert T. McWilliams. She now serves the new administration.

Another salary ordinance covers pay increases for members of the Plainfield Public Works Employees Association and will also be up for second reading and final passage on March 20.

Workers under 19 job titles and supervisors covered by 11 titles will receive increases for 2005 through 2008. Base salary amounts for 2004 were not available Sunday but the annual increases starting from 2005 amount to about 3.8 percent yearly.

Cashiers at grade 5 would see their maximum pay increase from $33,869 in 2005 to $37,878. At the top of the supervisory range, a grade 19 general Public Works supervisor’s maximum salary is listed as $64,986 for 2005, rising to $72,680 in 2008.

The public may speak on either ordinance at the second reading on March 20. The meeting will be at 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.

Public notices published Friday (March 10, 2006) confirmed the creation of two new positions, a secretary and a confidential aide for the mayor, and their salaries through 2008. The secretary’s 2006 maximum salary will increase to $59,991 by 2008. The confidential aide is coming in at a maximum of $61,073 in 2006 and will receive a maximum of $65,803 in 2008. Those ordinances passed in February.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: salaries, budget