Saturday, April 12, 2008

Getting Paid in the PPD

The question of compensation came up in Alexi Friedman’s article on transitions in the Police Division last week.

Public Affairs and Safety Director Martin Hellwig was quoted as expecting a raise as he also becomes the first civilian police director. Chief Edward Santiago’s layoff was to take effect Friday and as he reverted to the title of captain, Santiago was expected to earn more than he did as chief.

Over the years, as unions gained settlements, a group of non-union top administrators and officials received comparable raises in a separate ordinance. The list included police and fire chiefs, the city clerk, the chief financial officer, city engineer, corporation counsel, city administrator, deputy city administrator, the three department heads, health officer, municipal court judge, personnel director and superintendent of public works. As far as Plaintalker can tell, the last time there was a salary ordinance for that comprehensive list was in 2004.

In March 2006, only City Clerk Laddie Wyatt and Chief Financial Officer Peter Sepelya received salary increases by ordinance, retroactive to 2003. Their maximum pay increased from $91,785 in 2003 to $101,498 in 2006. Sepelya retired in 2007 and Wyatt is eligible for retirement.

Two new positions were created by ordinance in February 2006, secretary and confidential aide to Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. The ordinance listed maximum salaries by 2008 of $59,991 for the secretary and $65,803 for the confidential aide.

A listing of salaries for 2006 shows Santiago making $102,437, while captains were receiving $111,981. According to the 2004 ordinance, “salary bands” for both the police and fire chiefs were to range from $75,677 to $110,528 in 2005.

The salary range for director of Public Affairs & Safety, unchanged by ordinance since 2005, is $81,024 to $117,258. All three directors used to get the same pay, but a quirk in the rules requires the Public Affairs & Safety director to make a certain percentage higher than the police chief who reports to him. But Hellwig’s salary in 2006 was only $90,000 and has not been changed by ordinance. No salary range has been passed by ordinance for the civilian police director. Normally, a person holding two top administrative posts gets the higher salary, not both.

In any case, Hellwig appears to be due for a raise. As for the other two department heads, the director of Public Works and Urban Development is listed as earning $98,000. The 2005 range for both that post and director of Administration & Finance was $74,261 to $102,460. No salary was ever announced for A. Raiford Daniels, the former finance director, or Douglas Peck, hired as acting finance director April 4.

The reason for this jumble of circumstances is not known. There have been past incidences of administrations holding off on non-union salary increases, notably one that put the fire chief’s compensation on a par with the police chief several years ago. Both the fire chief who was retiring at the time and the new chief benefited by that action.

As Bob Ingle reported in his book, “The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption,” the compensation of an elected or appointed official becomes very important as the official nears retirement, because pensions are based on final years of pay. If in fact this administration held off on a salary update for Santiago, reverting to captain at a higher salary could be serendipitous for him, at least in terms of compensation.

Besides the list of non-union employees above, recently the titles of public information officer, executive director of Economic Development and executive assistant have been added to the roster.

Plaintalker has based this article on documents. If anyone has better information, please use the comment function for corrections or explanations. And of course, your general comments are welcome.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only in government and the brokerage business (when there is a bull market)are employees under worked but over paid. Of course, there are exceptions in the City of Plainfield, but if those directors, and lets us not exclude the politicans, were achieving tangible results compensurate with their pay why arn't the pot holes and numerous other quality of life issues being addressed -in such manner - that would unequivically enhance the image of Plainfield. No matter what the entrance signs to Plainfield say, the luster is off the "Queen City" but not the pay checks of some city employees and there bosses.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what a confidential aide does for & 65,803.00? Can anyone convey what Martin Hellwig has done that the police chief hasn’t? It was my under standing that the position of Safety director was so the public would have a civilian voice in departmental issues. Do the citizens of Plainfield feel they have a voice or just lip service?
What does the Public Information officer do and how much money are they paid? There is more information available from the blogs than what is available from the city.
As for Economic Development, the senior center has been started, with the addition of 65 apartments above but what of the North Avenue project? Aside from trying to blight more viable properties that project seems to have stalled.
For the salaries that these positions are being paid we the taxpayers should demand results.
It’s unfortunate that the city administration is fiscally incompetent and until the voters make a change this will escalate on a downward slope.

9:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home