Manalapan: In a split vote, committee OKs hiring freeze

But two officials say it’s premature; call for hiring full-time fire inspector

Article by Kathy Baratta, News Transcript

Heading in the right direction!

The Township Committee will move forward with a hiring freeze in town hall, in spite of objections from two committee members.

Mayor Michelle Roth proposed the freeze as township officials prepare the municipal budget. Committee members said they hope to introduce the spending plan in May.

Roth and Committeemen Richard Klauber and Andrew Lucas voted at Wednesday’s meeting in favor of instituting the freeze.

But Committeewoman Susan Cohen and Committeeman Anthony Gennaro say they aren’t in favor of the proposal. Cohen said the move would prohibit the township from creating a full-time fire inspector position requested by the township’s Construction Department.

The department had hoped a current part-time position, with a salary of about $18,700, would have been made full-time at a salary of about $42,000. The department has one full-time inspector and two part-time inspectors that work 21 hours per week and 10 hours per month, respectively, Cohen said.

Cohen said she felt cuts would be more effective in areas such as health benefits for Township Commit-tee members. The committeewoman, who added she does not take the benefits, said they cost the township between about $12,300 and $13,700 annually per member who takes them.

She also said she’s still reviewing various components of the budget and talking to department heads about their expenses.

“I think that since we haven’t all sat down yet and looked through every part of the budget yet, (the hiring freeze) was premature,” Cohen said. “I think we really do need the inspector. I would like to at least have the option to hire that person if we find the money.”

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