While mayor’s office isn’t hiring, at least 10 Union City employees got raises in 2019

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While the mayor’s office is currently “unable to offer employment to residents,” at least 10 Union City City Hall employees received pay raises ranging from seven percent to 17 percent this year, according to W-2 reports and other public payroll records.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Due to economic circumstances, the Mayor’s Office is unable to offer employment to residents,” a mailer sent out this week by state Senator (D-33)/Mayor Brian Stack says.

Stack, who is known for sending political and governmental mailers regularly, typically doesn’t include this disclaimer – which comes at the end of a fiscal year where the North Hudson municipality $20 million in transitional aid this fiscal year.

This was also later complimented with a $6 million loan after Stack wrote to the state that Union City was still enduring “severe budgetary restrictions.”

Furthermore, according to documents obtained by HCV, at least 10 municipal employees received raises well beyond the two percent cap outlined in the city’s memorandum of understanding with the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services..

“The municipality understands that if it approves any individual employment contract or any collective negotiation agreement that increases annual compensation for the employee or group of employees by more than 2% annually, during the term of the agreement, the municipality may become ineligible for future aid,” the agreement says.

For example, the highest earning employee on the list, Finance Director Susan Colditz, netted $136,279 in 2018, a figure that increased to $157,950 as of October 11th, her employee earnings record shows.

That $21,671 pay bump reflects a 15 percent raise.

Additionally, Carlos Vallejo, who earned $55,000 as a confidential assistant, as well as $10,500 part-time compensation as the deputy registrar to vital statistics last year, received pay hikes of $5,000 on July 5th and $1,000 on February 1st, respectively.

Both raises, which are shown on his annual employee earning records, reflect a nine percent increase.

Meanwhile, the largest percentage increase went to Customer Service Representative Sudalik Schiffino, whose salary increased to $45,000 as of October 11th, payroll records show.

She had previously made $38,209, according to her W-2 form, meaning she received a roughly 17 percent pay raise in the fall.

In her case, it is possible that longevity played a role in her compensation, given that she’s been a municipal employee since September 25th, 2006.

Minutes from the Union City Board of Commissioners meetings, available on the city’s website, dating back to January did not show the board approving any resolution, ordinance, or any other measure granting any of the raises in question.

Furthermore, a city spokeswoman did not return inquiries seeking comment.

Even if they did, such governmental action would need prior approval from the Division of Local Government Services, according to state Department of Community Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Ryan.

“Generally speaking, municipalities that receive Transitional Aid are expected to adhere to the MOU’s strictures,” she told HCV in an e-mail.

“Where a waiver is sought to exceed the stipulated level, any such request is submitted to the Division of Local Government Services with individual justification for the exceedance and is reviewed by the Division on an individual basis.”

She did not respond to a follow-up question asking if Union City had submitted any requests for any of the pay raises in question.