|Mayor Bernie Platt has given back 10 percent of his Township salary to personally create cost savings for Town Hall. The Mayor’s reduction was followed by a 10 percent salary reduction by Town Council leadership, the majority of Council members and Maris Kukainis, Township business administrator.
The Township has implemented several cost cutting measures to combat a significant drop in construction revenue, state aid and rising costs due to state mandated payments to the pension system and the public library.
"This is another form of universal belt tightening by my administration to combat the ongoing national recession," Platt said. "At this point as an elected official I feel a moral obligation to share the pain with employees and residents by giving back salary in order to do my part in these extraordinary times. In my estimate it would be unconscionable to ask for wage freezes without actively participating."
The total savings from the salary giveback by elected officials and the municipal manager will be more than $26,000. Additionally, Town Council members have not had a salary increase in more than 20 years and the mayor’s salary has not increased since Platt took office.
Steven Polansky, council president, said the salary giveback is another example of the administration sharing the pain with employees and the community.
"Right now we are looking at every option to cut costs," Polansky said. "The Mayor and Council must lead the way in these difficult economic times. During these unprecedented times of economic turmoil I am open to all options to preserve the core services upon our residents depend, and which they value. There is no question that people are suffering. Universal pain needs to be felt by everyone from the top down."
To offset the debilitating effects of the current recession, the Township has already made painful layoffs, consolidated departments, implemented premium sharing for medical benefits throughout union ranks, froze wages for 130 nonunion employees and cut more than $700,000 from its 2008-09 fiscal year budget.
Platt said the Township would continue to plan for the future during this recession-based economy, and that these particular givebacks are a "sign of the times." He also said that his administration would go back to the six unions operating in the Township to seriously discuss wage freezes and other concessions to create economic sustainability for future budgets until economic conditions improve.