Vernon council moves to repeal mayor's raise

Ordinance to rescind Marotta's salary $40,000 pay increase introduced by 4-1 vote


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"It's beyond the petitioners; it's beyond the office of the mayor. There is a group of residents that were actively campaigning against the petition and would love to see the mayor get his raise. What happens to that group of people? What happens to all the voters of Vernon? I don't see how it's up to us to repeal it, after the voters have spoken."
Vernon Township Councilwoman Jean Murphy

The Vernon Township Council introduced an ordinance on Monday to repeal the previous ordinance that gave Mayor Victor Marotta a 133 percent pay increase.

Marotta had asked the council to consider rescinding its approval of the ordinance that allowed him a raise from $30,000 to $70,000 during the March 24 council meeting.

History of mayor's raise

Jan. 6: Mayor Victor Marotta introduces request to increase mayor's salary to $70,000 per year during budget discussion.
Jan. 13: Township Council approves by 3-2 vote first reading of ordinance to grant mayor's pay raise
Jan. 27: Township Council approves by 3-2 vote the ordinance granting mayor's pay raise.
Feb. 14: Petition with more than 1,000 signatures is filed with township clerk to send the ordinance to a public referendum in November election. Mayor's salary is frozen at $30,000
Feb. 28: Petition is approved by Deputy Township Clerk Andrea Bates.
March 24: Marotta asks council to rescind ordinance granting his pay raise.
March 31: At a special meeting, council, by a 4-1 vote, approves ordinance to repeal ordinance granting mayor's raise.

The ordinance granting the pay raise was adopted on Jan. 21 and a petition of more than 1,000 valid signatures of Vernon's registered voters was approved by Deputy Township Clerk Andrea Bates on Feb. 28 and the measure was scheduled to be placed on the ballot as a referendum in November.

If the council approves the ordinance, the measure will not need to go before the voters. The last time a Marotta pay increase went to referendum, it was shot down by 87 percent of townshp voters.

“Both sides of the controversy agree that there is no more controversy," Township Attorney Kevin Kelly said. "It leaves us with neither a case or a controversy. There was a real public interest in resolving the manner. There would not be need for the costs of the expenses of an election and perhaps a campaign.”

Marotta explained that he asked for the ordinance’s repeal so the town can resume focusing on bigger and more pertinent issues — not what the mayor gets paid. He said that he would like to pursue the interests of the community.

The council accepted the introduction of the ordinance to repeal the mayor’s salary raise with a 4-1 vote. Councilmen Dick Wetzel, Dan Kadish, Patrick Rizzuto, along with Council President Brian Lynch voted yes while Councilwoman Jean Murphy voted no.

Murphy explained her stance by focusing on those who signed the petition, as well as those who opposed it. She said would like to see the issue remain on the November ballot so Vernon voters can decide for themselves. A critique of the process and a driving force behind the petition was to give a voice to the residents in the town. Murphy said she feels that, once again, allowing a council of only five residents to decide is unfair to the voters.

“It’s beyond the petitioners; it’s beyond the office of the mayor. There is a group of residents that were actively campaigning against the petition and would love to see the mayor get his raise,” Murphy said. “What happens to that group of people? What happens to all the voters of Vernon? I don’t see how it’s up to us to repeal it, after the voters have spoken.”

The second reading and public hearing on the ordinance to repeal Mayor Marotta’s salary increase will take place during the scheduled meeting on April 14 at the Municipal Building.

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