Against the objections of Councilman Paul Aronsohn and one outspoken resident, the council amended its that provides for retroactive to its top management and non-union staff.
In its original passage approved in July, the dual ordinances froze salaries of the non-union personnel to zero percent raises. But it did set aside 2 percent of total non-union salaries – just over $85,000 – for retroactive "incentive bonuses" for the years of 2010 and 2011. After an evaluation and review, the personnel could each receive up to a total of four percent of the pool as an addition to their base salary in 2010 and 2011.
On Wednesday night, that number jumped to up to a 4 percent increase each year, which then raises the base salary of the worker going forward.
Prior to the ordinances, raises of up to 6 percent were common and not based on performance, said Deputy Mayor Tom Riche. "What this changes now for the first time ever is it's based on performance...if you don't perform, you get zero. Those that do perform get between 0 and 4 percent."
The ordinances have been hailed by some members of the council as a new benchmark in government, and they were an honorable mention award for "innovation in government".
But Wednesday night's discussion mirrored those of the past – debate over what's appropriate compensation, equality in compensation between union and non-union staff, and what qualifies as leadership in challenging economic times.
"We know taxpayer money doesn't grow on trees," said Aronsohn, who was again outvoted 4-1. "Yet when it comes to salary increases, the highest paid in our government, we just keep giving it out. I just don't understand it."
His colleagues provided a list of reasons they felt made "Ordinance 3312" and "Ordinance 3313" good municipal law.
In the past, Councilwoman Bernadette Walsh said it's important to attract and retain talent, which the ordinances aid in. On Wednesday, she added that only rewarding unions with negotiated raises of 3 percent and 4 percent not based on performance "isn't fair," Walsh said. "I don't think that anybody works less than anybody else does," she said.
"When you talk about management and feel the management shouldn't get a raise, I think that goes back to – are they doing their job, are they performing all the goals of their job descriptions and what would make them want to stay in Ridgewood if they weren't being treated as fairly as those that have negotiated contracts?"
It was a point Mayor Keith Killion latched onto.
"My opinion every one of these council people had no problem approving raises for every union membership in this town," said Killion, a former police officer. "If you're truly looking out for the taxpayer's money, then I find an inconsistency, an inconsistency I can't accept."
"If you want to talk about consistency, you're talking about 3 percent increases, 4 percent increases, this body gave the this year," Aronsohn rebutted. "That is wholly inconsistent."
"Leaders should lead by example," added Aronsohn in his disapproval, saying that retroactive bonuses to 2010, a year of increased taxes and the , was not something that settled well with him.
He contended the pool of money would be better spent on some of the more substantive problems in the village, pointing out ongoing issues with flood management, pedestrian safety woes and accessibility challenges.
Resident Ed Feldsott was so incensed he asked the council if the citizens could rescind the ordinance, which he reported was panned by residents he'd spoken with.
"It amazed me that only one member of the Village Council, Paul Aronsohn, felt these increases were irresponsible and not warranted," Feldsott told Patch.
"We need leaders who lead by example. If they are going to ask our teachers, police and fire department to take cuts, they should not be voting increases to non-union workers."
Short of casting his ballot in May there's nothing to be done about it, the council told Feldsott.
Reached for comment after the meeting, Village Manager Ken Gabbert explained that the pool of money has actually shrunk by a few thousand dollars because of a reduced labor pool. He has already completed reviews and evaluations, he said. Around 25 personnel are eligible for incentive bonuses, Gabbert noted.
A detailed report on who received what level of compensation will be provided to the council at the next meeting, Dec. 7.