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Should Council Members Take a Salary and Health Benefits From the Borough? [Poll]

Three current council members receive either a stipend, benefits or both from the borough.

To accept or not to accept a salary and health benefits? That is the question council members must answer after they're elected to serve Fair Lawn.

Elected officials can choose to receive an annual $2,500 salary for their public service, in addition to borough-provided medical, dental and prescription drug benefits.

Their decision need not be simply "yes" or "no." Council members are free to mix and match what they receive -- both salary and benefits, just benefits, just salary, etc.

In 2012, a council member who receives both the salary and full health care package does so at a cost to the borough of more than $30,000.

At the , amid discussion of employee layoffs, Mayor Jeanne Baratta made a proposal that council members voluntarily decline their salary and benefits.

"We all talk about how we want to help the taxpayers and every little bit helps," she said. "I think everybody needs to make sacrifices, so I’d like to put on the table that council members no longer receive salaries and benefits."

Deputy Mayor Trawinski seconded Baratta's proposal, calling it "important symbolism," even if it didn't reap large economic savings for the borough.

"Within the context of this budget it will yield little relief for the taxpayers," he said, "but nevertheless I believe it’s an important message that we send and I’m willing to support that."

Deputy Mayor Cosgrove and councilman Kurt Peluso also supported Baratta's voluntary call to refuse the borough-provided salary and benefits. 

Councilwoman Lisa Swain abstained, saying she'd be willing to forego the salary but needed to discuss with her husband the possibility of finding another insurance provider.

"It costs us money to sit in this seat," said Swain, who is not eligible to receive benefits through her part-time employer. "I have to think about it, so I'm not going to vote on that right now."

Unable to achieve unanimity, the proposal was dropped and has not resurfaced at subsequent meetings.

Asked Tuesday, Swain said had discussed the issue with her husband but had not yet made a decision because doing so would require looking for benefits elsewhere. 

This year, the borough is spending $68,900 to provide health benefits and salaries to council members.

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A breakdown of the cost in salary and benefts for current borough council members since 2006:

Council Member

2006

2007

2008

2009

Jeanne Baratta

$0

$0

$0

$0

John Cosgrove

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Kurt Peluso

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Lisa Swain

N/A

N/A

$22,171.77

$23,335.26

Ed Trawinski

$6,975.72

$6,775.44

$9,970.41

$10,233.42   Council Member 2010 2011 2012(stipend projected) Total Jeanne Baratta $0 $0 $0 $0 John Cosgrove N/A N/A $0 $0 Kurt Peluso N/A N/A $27,851.16
$27,851.16 Lisa Swain $28,055.54 $28,228.74 $30,351.06 $132,142.37 Ed Trawinski $11,253.74 $7,538.16 $10,697.70 $63,444.59

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Ron Reese May 13, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I surender the belt willingly I will save all my energy for defeating Obama !!! And the democrati controlled congress by the way has anyone seen John Corzine did they ever find the money??? That right he is a liberal poster boy he gets to keep it wher u and I would be in jail!!
Ron Reese May 13, 2012 at 09:29 PM
And tony if that's your real photo u need to be outside this beautiful day
Tony Sina May 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Unfortunately, this is an actual photo of me. I would love to go outside, but the mere thought of sunlight causes my skin to blister out and third-degree burns to erupt everywhere. I appreciate your concern. As for Jonny C...as a former employee of the 200-year-old MF Global - a company he managed to destroy in about eighteen months - I'm disgusted, I'm out of work, I'm out thousands because the company did not honor the retirement vestments and stock purchase program refunds they committed to when we were let go, and I'm out of patience with every minute that goes by that someone is not IN JAIL for the garbage that got pulled there! Hope you don't mind me ranting, Double R...I know that's your bag.
Ron Reese May 13, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I'm sorry tony I hope you take vitamin d supplements and in the shade is still healthy I meant know harm and you realize corzine was nearly a cabinet member?? OMG Obama is right there is class war going in the ruling class against the working class all the failures on wall street where recruited into the Presidents administration so they could finish us off ! In the name of fairness and shared sacrifice!!! My father raised 6 kids all pay taxes most of us pay more in taxes than he retired making and low and behold!!!! IT'S NOT ENOUGH WHAT A SURPRISE!!
mushroom May 15, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Most people whether in the private sector or employed by the government don't have their medical benefits paid completely, and part timers almost never qualify for any benefit. Why should a politician be any different, especially part timers? I guess the fact that they make the rules helps, whether they grant it themselves or it is "grandfathered "in. Sure must be nice to make your own rules.

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