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Toms River Council Members to Retain Benefits in Employee Restructuring

Longevity raises, sick and vacation time payouts to be eliminated for non-union employees

Toms River's elected officials will continue to be eligible for taxpayer-funded health benefits under an ordinance introduced on first reading Nov. 26 which will likely be finalized in a second vote later this month.

The bulk of the ordinance, however, restructures how non-unionized, full-time township employees receive such benefits as health insurance, vacation time and other forms of compensation such as payouts of unused time off at retirement.

Vacation time for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2014 will be pared down to a maximum of four weeks after 10 years of service. That's down from the previous policy of five weeks after 15 years of service and six weeks after 25 years of service.

The township will eliminate payouts for unused sick and vacation time upon retirement for new hires after Jan. 1, 2014, and current employees who have less than 20 years of service with the township will be eligible to receive a maximum payment of $15,000. Sick leave accrued after Jan. 1, 2014 will not count toward that payout. The $15,000 cap is compliant with state benefits reform laws passed in recent years.

The accrual of sick leave time during one's service with the township can still be carried year-to-year despite the limits now being placed on retirement payouts.

So-called longevity raises for new hires are being eliminated under the proposal. Previously, depending on the year they were hired, employees were entitled to raises after their third, fifth, ninth, 12th and 15th years of service. The raises were previously scaled back for employees hired after Dec. 1990 and Jan. 1998; currently, employees hired in 1998 to the present receive raises after their ninth, 12th and 15th years. The raises range from 2 percent to 8 percent.

Health benefits will be extended to full-time employees only, with the exception of elected officials, who will still enjoy benefits. The coverage will be limited to what is known as the township's "EPO Advantage Plan," or its future equivalent, according to the ordinance.

Full time employees and elected officials also qualify for dental and prescription coverage. Employees and elected officials must pay a portion of their earnings toward the benefits.

Some elected officials in town have faced criticism over taking taxpayer-funded benefits since they hold what is commonly thought of as a part-time job. Regular part-time employees of the township are not eligible for any such benefits.

Currently, three council members receive health benefits. Councilmen Maurice "Mo" Hill and Jeffrey Carr receive benefits from the township while Councilman Al Manforti receives benefits as a result of his stint with the Toms River MUA.

Toms River uses a private insurance carrier for its employee health benefits, meaning the municipality is not covered under reforms enacted several years ago to the state employee health benefits system that barred newly-elected officials from receiving benefits.

No members of the governing body commented on the ordinance at its introduction, though in recent months the practice of elected officials receiving benefits has been defended by council members.

"This has been in place for over 30 years, and the salary has been the same amount for 30 years," said Council President George Wittmann, of the benefits option, at a recent meeting. "The benefits came with the salary."

The changes in the ordinance affect only non-unionized employees. The benefits received by employees who are union members are dictated by a collective bargaining agreement and state labor laws.
MP Flood December 04, 2013 at 07:32 AM
Big balls...well actually,not really.They know that no one will show up and stand up to them.
Martin December 04, 2013 at 08:15 AM
"Some elected officials in town have faced criticism over taking taxpayer-funded benefits since they hold what is commonly thought of as a part-time job. Regular part-time employees of the township are not eligible for any such benefits." Did those self-serving "public servants" think that no one would notice? Nah, they know that TR sheeple blindly re-elect them for a lifetime of selfish gobbling at the public trough!
proud December 04, 2013 at 08:22 AM
How much is the "portion" contributed by the benefactors? Pennies on the dollar?
GloriaP December 04, 2013 at 08:34 AM
Oh, so my HUGE property tax increase is contributing to the cost of healthcare for part time council members ... Well, at least now I can begin to understand the gross inequality in This Town; whether I like it or not.
grace December 04, 2013 at 09:17 AM
wow thats great is there anything else they want? maybe new cars or vacation homes to use during their paid retirement? ha they probably already have these things what was i thinking.
Deep Throat December 04, 2013 at 09:33 AM
" said Council President George Wittmann, of the benefits option, at a recent meeting. "The benefits came with the salary." If a dog comes with fleas you keep them? If a picture frame comes with a picture already in it you keep it that way? If Obamacare continues to be a disaster we should just allow it? Change is good sometimes!!!!!!
suz December 04, 2013 at 10:06 AM
And the story just goes on and on and on...
Keith Bryant December 04, 2013 at 10:09 AM
Your not full time employees and you should not get benefit's. As an elected official it should be up to the taxpayers to decide if you should get benefits not yourselves. Typical politicians believe you all deserve better than the people you serve. Not a full time employee working 40 hours a week on the books. You should not get benefits as you do with part time employees. Put it up for the people to decide. My vote would be No.
justamom December 04, 2013 at 10:22 AM
the people of Toms River keep right on voting outrageous things such as this. I keep wondering when THAT will stop. I moved out of TR and I'm glad, next move will be out of this state. I woulda done that already, but sadly, I have to wait till I retire.
EducatedCitizen December 04, 2013 at 10:30 AM
George Wittman "its been like this for 30 years". Oh so that makes it okay to continue the "way its been". A lot can happen in 30 years... your council spot is a PART TIME JOB, if no other part timers are eligible for these benefits, then neither are you. Best part is the "portion" they have to pay for benefits is based on a sliding scale based on their salary. So if you are a DPW worker at top pay, you have to pay say 25% of your health insurance premium..but if you are part time Council member, you only have to pay say 7%, for the SAME HEALTH CARE!. These folks need to get off their high horse. They signed up and volunteered for a part time job..they should receive no pay, no benefits, if they don't like it, I am sure someone else would be glad to do the job.
Irina December 04, 2013 at 10:39 AM
Part timers Maurice "Mo" Hill and Jeffrey Carr and Al Manforti shouldn't be getting any benefits. AND Gilmore wants to sent Hill to DC. Don't we have enough useless congressmen and senators suckling on the teat in DC? What makes Mo so different. He's been USELESS on the council what makes anyone think he will change in DC.
bayway mike December 04, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Just waiting to see how the Town Council will work out Chief Mastro's compensation package..
Mark December 04, 2013 at 11:49 AM
This article lacks some needed information. How much does it cost taxpayers for each council members benefits? May need to explain why the others are not taking the benefits ( one gets it from his wife's County political job, one gets it from her State political appointed job & one gets it for being a fire dept employee). The Patch may also want to explore the complete salary and benefits package for council members & explore their attendance or lack of at council meetings.
Tom smith December 04, 2013 at 01:04 PM
To think anyone is going to do the council for free is a joke.
grace December 04, 2013 at 01:06 PM
@bayway mike you know its gonna big a big one..can we say half a million
bob December 04, 2013 at 03:17 PM
I don't agree with there benefits, but anybody would take them if they were in the same position.
Mark December 04, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Anyone know what they use their Township credit cards for?
letsgetreal December 04, 2013 at 04:58 PM
@bob You are 100 PERCENT right...LOL. ALL Hippocrates. If I was one of them or offered the package deal I would take it and run...and so would everyone else...Listen REP or DEM it does not matter its comes down to the INDIVIDUAL and human nature sets in and that is "what can I get for myself and family" I am not saying its right or downplaying it but reality is not many would turn this down. I for one am being honest when I say i would accept them with a huge smile on my face....just sayin
letsgetreal December 04, 2013 at 05:00 PM
just to add a quick footnote..... I am not defending this decision to provide benefits by an stretch....I am just saying I would hypocritical to complain cause I would take them if offered.
proud December 04, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Is Hippocrates any relation to Socrates?
Mr. Happy December 04, 2013 at 07:47 PM
In a town that has almost 100,000 people, isn't it a bit ridiculous that a council person makes 8K a year? You want to cut benefits fine-but raise salary to 25K or so to attract good people to govern. Simple as that. @proud-I think Hippocrates and Socrates are both related to Uranus.
proud December 04, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Mr Lackey is correct for a change. Twenty five G's attracts lots of good people to govern. Twenty two G's and your stuck with the likes of the publicly assisted charlatan Mr Lackey (living in his Mommy's house at fifty five) watching Howard Stern and acting like it what with his naughty commentary.
Chief Wahoo December 04, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Keep paying those property taxes !!!!! Don't worry about that lost decade.....the next decade will be better .....lol
Linda Maloney December 05, 2013 at 01:46 AM
@proud Hippocrates was not related to Socrates, he was related to Heraclides! Duh! ...and since when have you become a spelling Nazi? @letsgreatreal spelled it correctly previously! So surprised at you!
proud December 05, 2013 at 05:32 AM
It's all Greek to me.
letsgetreal December 05, 2013 at 07:19 AM
@proud I just caught that LOL Darn auto correct!!....
Mr. Happy December 05, 2013 at 08:33 AM
@PUD a spelling Nazi? This guy can barely spell GED!!
proud December 05, 2013 at 08:44 AM
Pond Scum!
Mr. Happy December 05, 2013 at 09:12 AM
@proud hangs out with a guy named Spooner, talks about "greek" and uses the term "suck it" on another thread. Anyone see a disturbing pattern here??
proud December 05, 2013 at 09:17 AM
Mr Lackey ( pond scum) seems to have gender issues.

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