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Zoom Mayor & Council: 300%+ Pay Increase On July 11 2023 Agenda

Jul 09, 2023
Cobalt Loft Photo Cover Mayor Council 7 11 2023 Meeting

The Town of Harrison Mayor and Council are scheduled to hold a public meeting on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be conducted virtually, utilizing the Zoom video conferencing software. Citizens can participate by clicking here or by dialing in using the phone number (616) 931-3860 with the Webinar ID 845-1965-9227 and Passcode 479413.

Several important topics will be discussed during this upcoming meeting. Notably, the Mayor and Council meeting agenda includes several ordinances, one of which proposes a substantial increase in the salary of both the Mayor and Council members.

Mayor & Council Pay Increase

The proposed ordinance seeks to increase the Mayor's salary from $2,500 to $12,000 per year, representing a 380% increase, while Council members' salaries are set to rise from $1,500 to $6,000 per year, a 300% increase. However, the council has yet to elucidate the reasons behind this proposal or why the percentage increase for the Mayor's salary is greater than that for the Council members. If salaries were to be increased equally, Council members should receive a yearly sum of $7,200.

The current salary scheme has remained unchanged since 1978, having been maintained by previous administrations. The rationale behind the drastic proposed increase in remuneration remains unclear, a fact likely to be a topic of discussion during the meeting.

Raymond J. McDonough Riverside Park

Also on the Agenda is a Resolution to name the pocket park alongside the Red Bull Arena and the Passaic River as the "Raymond J. McDonough Riverside Park." Previously the pocket park was known as the Cape May Street Park as it is on the strip of property between Cape May Street and the Passaic River.

The Resolution aims to honor the late Mayor Raymond J. McDonough, who, along with the then Town Council, devised the Redevelopment Plan for the industrial part of Harrison, leading to the creation of the Harrison Redevelopment Zone or SOHA (SOuthern HArrison). Mayor McDonough's vision of a Community Center with a swimming pool and adjacent Green Space in the form of a park has not been fulfilled but the opportunity to fulfill the dream still exists if the current administration moves toward making it a reality.  

Mayor Fife In The Way Of Fulfilling Mayor Raymond J. McDonough's Vision

Mayor James Fife, the current Mayor, and the Harrison Redevelopment Zone Chairman, previously stated that the former PSE&G Gas Works property, now cleaned of its industrial contamination, would be used by PSE&G and EPA to dewater toxic dioxin-laden Agent Orange sludge at the former PSE&G Gas works property which occupies the land along South Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. from the Path Station to the Passaic River.

His statement recorded at the August 29, 2022 meeting of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency was as follows “Of course, you have the biggest piece Public Service,  the EPA is holding that up.  We were going to do some planning over there but the EPA is going to using it for the [Passaic] river dredge [aka sludge].  We don’t know how long that is going to be it could be 10 years.  But It is up to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)  and PSE&G (Public Service Electric & Gas)  to decide what is going on there.” (Video of the Meeting where this statement is made is available below)

Mayoral Candidate Anselmo Millan Opposed EPA Dewatering Plan

Last year, former Councilman Anselmo Millan, who was running to unseat Mayor Fife in the November 2022 General Election recommended that the former PSE&G property be used for a Green Space which would include a multi-level Community Center and a Park and that it be named in honor of the late Mayor Raymond J. McDonough.  Millan also stated that the Harrison Redevelopment Agency has eminent domain power to take the property as other properties were taken within the Harrison Redevelopment Zone through the years to build the Community Center and Park and prevent its use by EPA for dumping of toxic dioxin-laden sludge.

Despite the video (audio) recording of the August 2022 Harrison Redevelopment meeting, Mayor Fife has denied that he made the above statement and continues to avoid stating whether he is in favor of the EPA Dumping & DeWatering Plan or against it.

The Statement by Mayor Fife and reports which surfaced last year suggest that Mayor Fife has known about the EPA's plan to use this site to dewater toxic dioxin-laden sludge from Agent Orange and has not taken steps to oppose the project or inform the residents of Harrison. Mayor Fife’s actions suggest that he is for the EPA Toxic Sludge Dewatering Project

The video of the Harrison Redevelopment Meeting in August 2022 clearly shows Mayor Fife knew about the EPA's sludge dewatering plan. Mayor Fife has yet to take an official stand on the EPA's sludge dewatering plan.

Resolutions on Liquor License Transfer & Cannabis Ordinance Changes Missing

Other items on the agenda include a Person-to-Person transfer of a Liquor License (Plenary Retail Consumption License 0904-33-043-007) and the introduction of an Ordinance to amend Ordinance 1460, the Town of Harrison’s Cannabis Ordinance. However, the specific resolution for the liquor license and the proposed changes to the Cannabis Ordinance were not included in the meeting package and appear to be pending further discussion.

Noticeably absent from the meeting package were the minutes from two prior Mayor & Council meetings, held on June 13 and June 28, 2023. This continues a disturbing trend of meeting minutes not being readily available for public scrutiny. Despite a specific provision for such postings on the official Town of Harrison website, these important records are frequently omitted, raising questions about transparency and public involvement.

The complete Mayor & Council Agenda can be accessed through this link. The Town of Harrison residents are encouraged to attend this virtual meeting to stay informed about these significant decisions impacting their community.

Other Articles You Might Want to Read:

EPA Toxic Sludge Plan Worse Than Expected And It Was Already Bad

While Mayor Fife Takes No Position Millan Fights to Stop EPA Dumping

Twenty-Six Years: Mayor McDonough's Redevelopment Vision Realized

Mayor Raymond J. McDonough’s Inaugural Address & Legacy

Videos to Watch:

Harrison Redevelopment Meeting August 29, 2022 (Mayor Fife's Statement on EPA)

Highlights of Mayor & Council Meeting of September 20, 2022 (EPA Questions Asked)

Harrison Mayor & Council Meeting September 20, 2022 (Full Official Video)

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