Issue: Salaries and Parks

MONEY FOR SALARIES BUT NOT FOR PARKS: THE EVIDENCE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1. In March and April of 2017 Allendale’s mayor and council appropriated $21,000 for salaries for themselves in their municipal budget. They wrote this budget and voted to approve it four separate times.

2. Then in May 2017 they wrote and approved a new law to establish a salary for the mayor and council that would be drawn from the funds in the budget. They voted for this unanimously before suddenly repealing it a month later under public pressure. They then deleted the text of this ordinance from the Borough’s website.

3. In 2018, a year after they prioritized $21,000 for salaries for themselves, the mayor and council cut our parks and playgrounds budget by $20,000 even though there has been broken equipment at the playground for years.

 

The Republican candidates feel they are above being held accountable for public actions they took as elected officials, and they are now misleading the voters about their record on this matter.

We present here the evidence, taken entirely from public documents. We trust that you can judge for yourself who is telling the truth. And we reject the Republicans campaign’s claim that they deserve to be held to a different, lesser, standard than other candidates for office on the ballot this November.

 

THE 2017 SALARY APPROPRIATION

 

Here’s Allendale’s 2017 municipal budget. You can find the $21,000 salary appropriation for the mayor and council on Sheet 12.

https://allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/CY-2017-Municipal-Budget-Adopted.pdf

The council voted to approve this budget at their March 23, 2017 meeting. (Councilwoman Homan was absent for this meeting and vote – and has missed this budget vote in every one of her four years on the Council).

Here are the minutes from the March 23, 2017 meeting where budget was introduced:

https://allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/March-23-2017-Regular-Minutes.pdf

On April 27, 2017 the Council unanimously voted to approve that budget three more times again in Resolutions 17-134, 17-135, and 17-136.

Here are the minutes:

https://allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/April-27-2017-Regular-Minutes.pdf

(Note also that even as $21,000 was being appropriated for new salaries, the borough’s capital budget was being trimmed by $85,000, from the customary $750,000 to $665,000.)

 

THE 2017 SALARY ORDINANCE

 

At their May 11, 2017 meeting the Council drafted, introduced, and approved an ordinance to establish salaries for the mayor and council that would be drawn from the money set aside in the approved 2017 budget.

This was Ordinance 17-09. It was unanimously approved with no discussion.

“ORDINANCE 17-09 - AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND CHAPTER 53 OF THE CODE OF THE BOROUGH OF ALLENDALE, “OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES”, TO FIX THE SALARIES, WAGES AND COMPENSATION OF THE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES OF THE BOROUGH OF ALLENDALE FOR THE YEAR 2017.

On a roll call, the vote was recorded as follows:

Councilman Bernstein: aye

Councilwoman Homan: aye

Councilwoman McSwiggan: aye

Councilman Sasso: aye

Councilman Strauch: aye

Councilwoman Wilczynski: aye”

 

Unfortunately, the text of this ordinance is not available on the Borough’s website because it was deleted to conceal the candidates’ record on this issue. This is why we sometimes have to use public records requests to obtain public documents that other municipalities make freely available to their residents! But we obtained it and it is linked here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hnup7qgfwf8jevv/ALL-MUNI%202017-05-11%20MC%20Ord%2017-09%20Zoning%2C%20Chapter%20270-31.pdf?dl=0

 

Here are the minutes of that meeting:

https://allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/May-11-2017-Regular-Minutes.pdf

The ordinance was supposed to be approved on May 25, 2017 but too many members of the council were absent from that meeting, so it was postponed until June 29, 2017.

In the weeks that followed, members of the public privately approached the Council to express their displeasure about the salaries and Christina Montanye announced that she would be a Democratic candidate for Council.

Councilwoman Amy Wilczynski, who was then running for re-election, made a motion at the June 29, 2017 meeting to repeal the already-approved salary ordinance. There was no discussion among members of the Council about this sudden reversal.

“On a roll call, the vote was recorded as follows:

Councilman Bernstein: aye

Councilwoman Homan: absent

Councilwoman McSwiggan: aye

Councilman Sasso: absent

Councilman Strauch: aye

Councilwoman Wilczynski: aye”

Here are the minutes from that meeting:

https://allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/June-29-2017-Regular-Minutes.pdf

 

THE 2018 PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS CUT

 

In Allendale’s 2018 municipal budget, the Mayor and Council cut the Parks and Playgrounds budget by $20,000, from $69,500 in 2017 to $49,500 in 2018.

You can find the budget here. The Parks and Playgrounds budget is found on Sheet 15-a:

https://www.allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/CY-2018-Municipal-Budget-Adopt.pdf

This budget was drafted, introduced, and approved by the Council on March 22, 2018 in Resolution 18-08. (Councilwoman Homan was absent.)

Here are the minutes of that meeting:

https://www.allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/March-22-2018-Regular-Minutes.pdf

The budget was then unanimously approved by the Council on April 26, 2018 in two votes: Resolutions 18-115 and 18-116.

Here are the minutes of that meeting:

https://www.allendalenj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/April-26-2018-Regular-Minutes.pdf

During many of the conversations we’ve had with you as we’ve gone door-to-door, we’ve heard complaints about broken and unsafe equipment at the Crestwood playground and requests for updated, all-ability equipment. If elected, getting this fixed for you will be one of our top priorities.

 

CONCLUSION

 

1. Allendale’s mayor and council drafted and approved a 2017 municipal budget that appropriated $21,000 for salaries for themselves. They voted four separate times to approve this budget at two meetings, even as they cut the Borough’s capital budget that same year.

2. They then wrote and approved an ordinance to establish a salary for the mayor and council that would be drawn from the funds set aside in the 2017 budget. They voted for this unanimously.

3. In 2018, a year after they prioritized $21,000 for salaries for themselves in their municipal budget, the mayor and council cut our parks and playgrounds budget by $20,000.

The Republican candidates’ records and priorities on this matter are clear: in 2017 they set aside $21,000 for salaries for themselves in the annual budget. Then they wrote and approved a law to begin paying themselves a salary with that money before the public rejected this departure from Allendale’s history and traditions. The following year they voted to cut the parks and playgrounds budget by $20,000.

 

For the Republican candidates to claim otherwise is a blatant lie and speaks to why we need to start livestreaming Mayor and Council meetings.

We are running because we think it is long overdue for there to be balance in local government. Allendale has had a one-party monopoly for 45 years. That is no longer a good deal for Allendale taxpayers or families.

We trust you to look at the evidence for yourself and make your own judgment.

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