It took two votes, but members of the governing body in Lavallette will be getting a small raise to the stipends they receive for their service as elected officials.
Prior to Monday night’s council meeting, the members received a stipend of $5,000 per year, with the council president receiving $7,500. Councilwoman Joanne Filippone made the motion to propose a $1,000 raise for both salaries since, she said, they were less than those of neighboring communities.
“They are currently less than half of pretty much every other community,” Filippone said, with the exception of Mantoloking, where council salaries have been eliminated.
The vote, at first, did not bode well for the proposed increase. Councilman Robert Lamb voted against the measure, and Councilman Robert Borowski abstained. That left three members voting in favor of the raise – Filippone, Councilman David Finter and Council President Anita Zalom. Councilman Michael Stogdill was absent. The three votes were determined to be insufficient to pass the ordinance.
“Some people ought to look into their own pocketbooks as to what people are taking from this borough,” said Filippone. “Put in the time I put in.”
Later in the meeting, it was brought up that the vote may have passed after all. Phillip George, the borough attorney, said he would research whether the borough ordinances call for a majority of the council as a whole to pass a resolution or a majority of those council members who are physically attending a meeting.
During this discussion, Borowski asked for the vote to be recalled, indicating he would not abstain. Borowski voted in favor of the measure, while Lamb again voted against it, however the four votes were enough to carry the motion.
Filippone said it should be the goal of the governing body to incrementally raise the stipend to $10,000 over the next five years.
“Most of those are approaching $15,000 but ours [were] at $5,000,” she said.
A raise to council stipends had been considered before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but fell off the agenda due to the circumstances.