The highest ranking Trenton city officials received tens of thousands of dollars in pay raises the same year the city decided to sell of its water utility to plug a $20 million budget shortfall, The Times of Trenton reported Thursday.
Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, Chief of Staff Renee Haynes, Business Administrator Dennis Gonzalez, and other top officials received 10-percent pay raises in a combination of longevity, cost of living, and other increases, according to city officials.
While City Council members have an opportunity to strip the increases from the budget some time in the coming weeks, the real question surrounds how these pay increases got approved in the first place.
Unclassified political appointees that fill these positions usually receive pay set in a salary ordinance, subject to approval by City Council members and protest by city residents. Trenton’s bizarre salary system calls for ranges for each of these positions.
Did City Council members approve such increases within the salary ordinance, and do such increases stay within the ranges set in that ordinance?
That is a very serious question for both City Council members and city residents to ponder, as they are beset by tax increase threats and what looks to be a long line of years of massive budget shortfalls.