READINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ – The township’s police chief is not only the department’s leader, he has more years on the job than his three lieutenants. But his base salary is lower, a result one committeeman said, of unions negotiating higher yearly raises than administrators.
The issue was raised at the Nov. 19 Township Committee meeting. Local government employees got raises of 2-2.75% under an ordinance adopted 4-0. Committeewoman Beatrice Muir was absent.
Committeeman Frank Gatti pointed out that salary increases for non-union township employees had been lower in recent years than for union employees. Because of this, he said the police chief’s salary is now lower than that of his lieutenants.
“It may have to be addressed,” he said. Under the ordinance adopted that night, Chief Sebastian Donaruma is paid a base salary of $117,778 and a township lieutenant — the township has three — a base of $117,848.
The ordinance this year allows average raises of 2.5% for about 10 non-union department leaders, including the chief. Last year, non-union employees received 2% raises. That falls short of police union raises.
Three union contracts were scheduled for negotiation this year in Readington, the fourth had been under negotiation since 2011.
Union police members receive the highest raises — 2.75% for each of three years — and “give back” by reducing the number of hours guaranteed to appear on the township’s behalf in court. The township’s lieutenants are members of the local police union.
Local government employees may also belong to one of three Teamsters unions. Those in buildings and grounds agreed to a 2.5% raise retroactive to 2011 and 2.25% this year and moving forward.
Members of the public works and white collar unions agreed to raises of 2% each of three years starting in 2012.
Readington usually employs 65-75 workers, also taking on seasonal employees when needed. The local police department has 21 officers and is hiring two more.
The chief’s lower salary isn’t a result of fewer years on the job. He has 25 years in, said one of his lieutenants, compared to about 17-18 years each for his lieutenants.