The Ridgewood Village Council voted 4-1 to approve three ordinances that will in effect , a year of layoffs and a strained village workforce.
Some on the council called the incentive pay measure an innovative transition to mirror best practices from the private sector. Village Manager Ken Gabbert pushed for the move, remarking that Ridgewood "will be the leaders" in the transition. He's reported that other municipalities have inquired how Ridgewood is doing it so their respective municipalities can follow suit.
Deputy Mayor Riche was effusive in his praise for the ordinances, which does not allow for salary increases but is based on merit. Salary structures for village positions are also fixed within a minimum and maximum allotment.
"For the very first time that I'm aware of in municipal government, this council has taken a leadership role in establishing a zero percent increase for the management and employees of the village."
Riche continued, saying that the village currently has contracts with uniformed unions for multiple years and while the village is working on "ranking in" some of those contracts, "it takes time."
"We're trying to fix problems that have gone on for many, many years here. But we all agree that supervisors should be a little bit above suboordinates in terms of salary structure," he said, adding that government rewards both good and bad employees equally, a misstep he said the village is trying to quash.
"We are trying to move towards the framework the private sector has set and this is the very first step."
Gabbert explained that the program will take 2 percent of the salaries for all staff affected in 2010 and 2 perecent of all the salaries that were paid in 2009, along with 2 percent of the anticipated amount in 2010. That amounts to around $84,000 to be doled out, determined by a supervisor's evaluation and ultimately, the recommendation of Gabbert. While there will be no salary increase, the incentive is between zero and four perecent.
"If someone was to receive a four percent increase, they would receive 2 percent in January 1 of 2010 and 2 percent on January 1, 2011," Gabbert explained. "That would be reported back to the mayor and council."
Councilman Paul Aronsohn was the lone councilmember to vote the resolutions down.
"2010 was a particularly difficult year not just for this village but for the entire state and for the entire country. I really believe it's important–like the private sector–that managers lead by example."
While he sees the program "has tremendous merit," Aronsohn said it just wasn't appropriate given the circumstances.
The village is currently in the process of reviewing self-evaluations for the retroactive raises.
Councilmembers Wellinghorst, Walsh, Mayor Killion and Deputy Mayor Riche voted to pass Ordinances 3284, 3285 and 3286.