Judge to rule by summer on Vernon bonuses

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A Superior Court judge is expected to rule by the end of July on whether bonuses handed out by Vernon Township Mayor Victor Marotta in December 2012 were legal.

Judge Thomas Wiesenbach last week heard arguments from Vernon Township attorney Kevin Kelly and plaintiffs Sally Rinker and Lynn VanGorder, who filed suit against the township, citing the bonuses were a violation of ordinance 12-01, which was overturned during the November election by 87 percent of Vernon voters. The vote, in addition to rescinding a raise for the mayor, also rescinded raises for nearly three dozen other townshiop employees.

Rinker said it is the plaintiff's belief that the bonuses did not go into effect before the ordinance's defeat.

In Dec. 2012, Marotta gave $66,000 in bonuses to 20 township employees and last year said he planned to give bonuses again in 2013. During budget discussions on April 14, councilman Dan Kadish said he thought the Bonus Awards program should be a line item in the budget. A few minutes later when Councilwoman Jean Murphy asked if she was voting for the bonus program if she voted yes on the budget, Marotta said he believed she was, according to township meeting minutes.

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