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Riche Calls For Higher Judge Salary

Ridgewood councilman Tom Riche first voted against Judge David Pfund's appointment, saying taxpayers could have saved with a shared services agreement. Now, citing a large caseload, Riche wants to pay Pfund more than his colleagues do.

He voted against the appointment of Judge David Pfund on the basis that he believed the village was missing an opportunity to save taxpayers money through a shared services agreement.

A week later, Councilman Tom Riche says he wants to pay the judge he didn't vote for a higher salary than his predecessor because of the heavy caseload.

Most of the details of former mayor Pfund's judicial appointment have been finalized, with the exception of one key point – his salary.

Former municipal judge . Pfund, who served as mayor of Ridgewood from 2004-2010, will not be collecting health benefits, which should save the village about $20,000 a year, according to Village Manager Ken Gabbert.

Pfund was also willing to take a lower salary than Sheridan had commanded, according to council members.

Three of Riche's council colleagues supported paying Pfund $24,500 – a figure recommended by Gabbert – and another council member recommended an even smaller salary.

Riche had other ideas, saying he thought Pfund should be paid $30,000 in salary.

"I got a report from some other municipalities in terms of what they pay their judges and I was surprised that some of them are actually substantial in comparison to what Ridgewood was paying," Riche said. "We had talked about the heavy caseload [in Ridgewood]...I just wanted to make sure that we're compensating fairly for that position."

Riche's recommendation irked Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli. 

"It's ironic that a judge you didn't vote for you seek to compensate higher than those of us who voted for him," Pucciarelli said in an exchange with Riche at the dais. "He seems happy with a lesser amount, than so [do] I."

Riche said whether he voted for Pfund or didn't was not important; he was weighing in on how much to compensate an individual for a position.

The councilman didn't offer up much of a comment when asked if he felt his original position – that the taxpayers should be realizing a cost savings through shared services agreements – was at odds with him supporting a higher salary because of a high caseload.

"I'm not going to answer that," Riche said at the conclusion of the meeting. "It's a silly question."

With the majority of the council supporting a salary of $24,500, the village appears to be ready to make that their offer to Pfund. His judicial appointment runs through June 30, 2013.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Melvin Freedenberg October 04, 2012 at 09:23 AM
Well, I guess Councilman Riche just lost his next election unless he decides not to run. In the world of "monkey see, monkey do," in making comparisons with other municipalities, Councilman Riche was surprised at the higher compensation municipal judges were getting. Which reminds me of the story when school superintendent salaries were being compared and one superintendent on Long Island was making $500,000 a year. Does that mean that all school superintendents should be making $500,000 a year? From a vote of "no" for Pfund to a vote of "monkey see, monkey do," Councilman Riche has definitely become more difficult to figure out where he stands on an issue. How about doing your homework before you vote "No," and not after.
Oliver Train October 04, 2012 at 10:17 AM
If Mr. Riche feels its important for our judge to earn more than their judge, perhaps it should come out of his pocket rather than ours...
Mikka H October 04, 2012 at 10:49 AM
how pathetic.....this whole process is a joke on the residents of Ridgewood......put down your footballs your soccer balls and get your head out of the sand and DO SOMETHING about this.......
News Man October 04, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Perhaps, a recommendation for a Judge's salary increase review could have been made after a short period of time might have been better. That thought could have been discussed in a close session.
jp1 October 04, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Mr. Riche seems to be a bit of a hypocrite. I also agree that the money should come out of his pocket.
Dennis Martinez October 04, 2012 at 12:21 PM
It's time to send Mr. Riche packing.
barbara October 04, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Mr. Riche......where have you been? The Ridgewood taxpayers are TIRED of being fleeced out of their hard earned income dollars to support a town council that dosen't know how to properly spend the taxpayers dollars. If you think giving a newly elected judge, that you voted not to hire, a salary increase before he even begins the job, it is definitely time for you to go! Where is the accountability of our council members? Do you think the taxpayers have printing presses in their basements and print the money they need to support the over inflated budget of this town. You will not be getting my vote in any future elections.
Long Time Resident October 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Councilman Riche are you serious? On one hand your talking about saving the residents money and on the other hand your talking about paying someone a higher salary because other towns pay more! And you're a businessman? Was this the same argument you made when you defended the absurd pay raise that you gave Gabbert. Other city managers in Bergen County are making more than ours so we need to pay our manager the highest salary in Bergen County because of course this is Ridgewood and we have to be better than other towns! Your time is ticking away and if you do decide to run the overwhelming likelihood is you will lose.....and you will NOT be missed!
James Kleimann October 04, 2012 at 04:24 PM
OK, let's put out a hypothetical situation. You're a member of the council in Ridgewood. Would you have voted for Pfund's appointment? Would you have sought a shared services agreement instead? What kind of compensation do you feel is appropriate for the position?
USAUSA October 04, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Riche is a bloated idiot, stick a fork in him, he is done!
News Man October 04, 2012 at 08:44 PM
James, I assume that a Judge appointment had to be make. If so, the method by the Council, I'm sure, included the number of available qualified candidates submitted by the Village manager and the range of salaries related to similar number of cases heard by those Judges. The final selection is the respondsibilty of the ELECTED councilmen. I would never second guess the final choice they made. I assume a full discussion was made on the final selection. Certainly not a "poll selection" by Patch readers.
maureen October 04, 2012 at 10:57 PM
This man has flip-flopped on sooo many issues . A bloated bureaucrat with taxpayer dollars to burn. I agree, he's toast.
barry October 05, 2012 at 12:46 AM
That's a lot of compensation for a part time judge. Pension benefits too? Shared services is the way to go.

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