One of N.J.’s highest paid mayors might get a $50K raise

Updated Feb 11, 2019

The mayor of New Jersey’s largest city would receive a $50,000 spike to his salary -- topping his earnings to $180,000 a year -- under a new proposal to give him and his top administrators wage increases.

Under the plan, which must be approved by the City Council in the form of an ordinance, Newark will increase salary ranges for 29 positions, including departmental directors, aides in the mayor’s office and judges. City officials said the boosts are based on cost of living adjustments for the last 10 years when wages have remained stagnant.

“The annual salary for the position of mayor has been the same for over a decade,” city spokesman Crystal Rosa said. “After an increased salary, the mayor’s salary still does not rank in the top fifty elected and appointed officials’ salaries within the state.”

Mayor Ras Baraka, now in his second term, currently earns $130,221 and does not hold another public job. He is among the higher paid mayors in the state but does not make as much as other full-time mayors like East Orange Mayor Ted Green ($141,000) and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage ($162,812). Other mayors top $190,000 when including pensions and other public jobs.

“He’s earned it, he’s earned every bit of it,” South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James said. “The mayor has the hardest job in the city. He did not take over an easy process. He was able to streamline the budget without layoffs, without furloughs, he was able to find funding for all those (police) officers.”

James said Baraka has hired 500 officers.

Salaries for directors of water and sewer, public works, recreation, engineering and finance will range from $100,000 to $190,000.

The department of water and sewer, led by acting director Kareem Adeem, is under pressure to address the city’s elevated lead levels in the tap water. Failures at one of the city’s two treatment plants and old lead pipes have caused lead issues since 2017.

Residents also expressed frustrations with street cleaning and recycling pick-up last year, complaining of piled up debris down their blocks while the city transitioned between contractors.

The highest salary ranges max at $260,000 for the business administrator and the director of public safety, Anthony Ambrose. Ambrose currently earns $200,000 but is paid by Essex County as part of a shared services agreement.

Crime in Newark is at a five-decade low but still remains a problem. There were 236 shooting victims last year and 70 homicides.

Rosa said employees’ salaries will be determined by performance evaluations, budget constraints and comparable pay elsewhere. She said the proposal comes after the city negotiated pay increases for union members.

East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador said it’s time for these positions’ salaries to be reviewed.

“We can’t have a city moving in the direction that we’re moving in, with development coming, and not do anything about those salaries,” he said. “We’re going to take a look at the entire package and take a look at specifically those who deserve to get a raise.”

Current salary ranges for the positions were not immediately available. The City Council will meet Wednesday at 10 a.m. at 920 Broad Street to discuss the ordinance.

Among the salary ranges proposed by the administration:

  • Mayor: $180,000
  • Aide to the mayor: $90,000-$140,000
  • Deputy Mayor: $85,000-$125,000
  • Executive Secretary: $65,000-$90,000
  • Personal Secretary: $65,000-$90,000
  • Mayor’s Aide I: $90,000-$140,000
  • Mayor’s Aide II: $65,000-$115,000
  • Mayor’s Aide III: $65,000-$115,000
  • Mayor’s Aide IV: $20,000-$25,000
  • Presiding Judge: $150,000
  • Judge: $130,000
  • Judge, Part-Time: $65,000
  • City Clerk: $175,000
  • Deputy City Clerk: $140,000
  • Aides to council members: $50,000-$85,000
  • Business Administrator: $190,000-$260,000
  • Assistant Business Administrator: $100,000-$150,000
  • Director of Public Safety: $190,000-$260,000
  • Police Chief: $150,000-$185,000
  • Director of Economic & Housing Development: $100,000-$190,000
  • Director of Health and Community Wellness (non MD): $100,000-$190,000
  • Director of Health and Community Wellness (MD): $100,000-$225,000
  • Director of Engineering: $100,000-$190,000
  • Director of Finance/CFO : $100,000-$190,000
  • Tax Assessor: $100,000-$160,000
  • Director of Public Works: $100,000-$190,000
  • Director of Water and Sewer: $100,000-$190,000
  • Director of Recreation Cultural Affairs and Social Services: $100,000-$190,000
  • Corporation Counsel: $100,000-$190,000
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