Jersey City Council considers raising their own salaries

The Jersey City Council could potentially raise their salaries by up to 42 percent. Photo by Mark Koosau.

The Jersey City Council is considering increasing their own salaries with an ordinance amendment that could potentially raise council members’ pay by 42 percent, and the Council President by 38 percent.

The council introduced the ordinance at their Feb. 24 meeting that would increase the city council members’ salaries from $60,000 to $85,000, as well as the Council President’s salary from $65,000 to $90,000. They voted 7-2 to introduce it on first reading, with Council members James Solomon and Frank Gilmore voting no.

Council President Joyce Watterman told the Jersey Journal last week that members are looking to increase their salaries because of the population increase in the city, and that answering to residents’ needs requires them to be “on call 24 hours a day.”

She also told the Journal that without a salary increase, their aides could earn more than them, after they recently adopted an ordinance increasing it; part-time aides got an increase from $22,500 to a range of $15,000-$35,000, and full-time aides from $45,000 to a range of $50,000-$85,000.

That ordinance also allowed members to hire more council aides, for up to either four full-time aides or eight part-time aides.

The role of a city council member is part-time, with a number of council members having other occupations. Watterman herself is a pastor at Continuous Flow Christian Center, while others have jobs ranging from local, business to education.

The council had previously increased their salaries in late 2019, where members’ salaries went from $36,180 to $55,000 in January 2020, and up to the current rate by January 2021. The Council President saw their salary increase as well, with $5,000 more than the council members’ increases.

Gilmore said at the meeting that the vote was a “hard one”, noting that he formerly worked in the city’s recreational department on minimum wage and without receiving a raise. “Although [this job] says part-time, it’s really an all-the-time job,” he said. He previously committed towards his councilman role as a full-time job prior to being sworn in.

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