By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – At their reorganization meeting Thursday, Jan. 14, the Board of Commissioners approved memorandums of agreement with three of the city’s five bargaining units.
The resolutions were unanimously approved after an executive session held via the Zoom online meeting platform. All three are five-year agreements with the Teamsters Local Union 929.
It is the second time the sitting commissioners have negotiated long-term contracts with city employees. The last round of contracts was for four years. This round of negotiations produced five-year contracts ending Dec. 31, 2025.
Acting Administrator Maria Mento, auditor Leon Costello of Ford Scott Associates and labor attorney Nicole J. Curio of Gruccio Pepper Desanto & Ruth represented the city during negotiations with certain bargaining units.
According to Mayor Beth Holtzman, having five-year contracts will help save money on the cost of hiring a labor attorney in the future.
“When we first got into office, contracts were negotiated by the mayor, department head and chief financial officer. We changed that to take the political and department heads out of it because they are too close and have to work together,” she said.
Holtzman said negotiations with the Teamsters went quickly because “the Teamsters are reasonable and taxpayer conscious. They work with the city and we want to be fair with the employees.”
The contract calls for Public Works employees to receive annual increases totaling $2,200 in year one to $2,500 in year five. Clerical workers will receive increases totaling $2,000 in year one to $2,300 in year five, plus a $25 clothing allowance. The starting salary for dispatchers was increased to $39,500 from $36,000 in step one, and the number of “steps” increased to 14 from 12.
According to Mento, the starting salary increase will help the city attract qualified candidates for the dispatcher team.
All contracts clarify language on sick leave and education benefits, and acknowledges Civil Service regulations for job changes or additional duties.
The board also renewed for one-year a professional services contract with Jersey Professional Management for Acting City Administrator/Deputy Clerk Maria Mento to continue serving the municipality on a part-time basis at a rate not to exceed $156,250. She will be paid $12 per hour on city payroll, with an hourly rate of $113 paid to JPM through the voucher system. Mento’s last contract was for six months at a not to exceed rate of $68,750 – $10 per hour with $110 per hour to JPM on voucher.
JPM was also awarded a not-to-exceed contract totaling $12,150 for management consulting services on an as needed basis.
According to Chief Financial Officer Albert Stanley, only $1,210 was expended in last year’s JPM contract. The remaining balance of $10,940 will be voided, he said.
During the annual reorganization meeting, the board approved numerous one-year contracts for professional services, including $96,000 for solicitor Tim Maguire, $64,000 for Costello as auditor, $40,000 for James Rutala as grant writer, $100,000 for Hank N. Rovillard as general tax counsel, $28,000 for Eugene Siracusa as risk management consultant, $32,000 for William Reynolds as prosecutor, $12,000 for Darrin Lord as public defender, among others.
Meetings will continue to be held at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.
This story was updated to include information about employee salary increases.
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