In the first reading of its 2013 ordinance on salary grades for township employees, the West Deptford township committee voted unanimously to keep wages flat for its clerical employees and supervisors.
The ordinance, which is up for a second reading October 17, also contained a provision guaranteeing cost-of-living increases for township police and public works employees that was mandated by prior collective bargaining.
During the meeting, however, Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo asked her fellow committee members the committee why the document contained a zero
increase for those employees.
“Nobody instructed me to put in zero,” replied CFO Brenda Sprigman.
“Is that something we missed in the budgeting process, to give a cost of living increase to all our employees?” DiCarlo said.
“I can’t answer that question,” Sprigman said. “It was my first time [preparing the budget].”
“I can’t answer that question,” Mayor Ray Chintall said.
At last, Committeeman Sam Cianfarini, the original architect of the 2013 budget, spoke up, saying that his position on the matter has been well-defined.
“We’ve inflated salaries over the years,” Cianfarini replied. “We’re outpacing the inflation index, so I didn’t see a need for a salary increase this year.”
After the meeting, DiCarlo expressed her frustration with a budgeting process that she said never got back to the question of taking care of township employees.
"It's a shame," she said.
"I'd like to go back and do the math that [Cianfarini] apparently did that said that with cost of living and inflation that they're making more money than they should be. Where's the merit base in all this?
"To completely disregard it as a committee and not even talk about it is a shame," she repeated.
"They never had one joint committee meeting that was open to the public to ask questions."