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State Sen. Nicholas Scutari. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Ban on retroactive raises for elected officials advanced by Scutari

Senator pushes bill after Linden mayor gave himself 36% pay hike

By David Wildstein, February 13 2019 4:11 pm

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) has introduced legislation that would prohibit elected officials from receiving retroactive salary increases.

Last December, Linden mayor Derek Armstead pushed through a pay hike that retroactively raised his salary by 36% — from $73,425 to $100,000 – for all of 2018.   He was re-elected in November, so by approving his own raise retroactively, he avoided dealing with voter approval until after his campaign was done.

He now has four years to deal with any fallout.

“Elected officials should not have the capability to give themselves retroactive salary increases,” said Scutari. “As elected officials in the legislature, we are prohibited from giving ourselves retroactive raises and bonuses. No elected official should be able to collect back pay upon salary increases; this legislation extends this basic standard to all elected offices in the state.”

Armstead’s retroactive pay raise gave him a $26,575 bonus check at the end of last year for work he had already done.

“Mayor Armstead rewarding himself with a taxpayer-funded retroactive bonus worth over $25,000 is an arrogant and shameful action for an individual tasked with maintaining the public trust. Clearly, his intent to raise his salary was known before his re-election, but he choose to keep that issue quiet until after Election Day,” said Scutari. “This flagrant act of deception towards taxpayers is exactly why people don’t trust elected officials, and the residents of my community are not pleased.”

Scutari said he is mobbing the legislation “because as public officials we aim to foster a climate of accountability in government, and to prevent politicians from padding their bank accounts by paying themselves for work they have already been paid for.”

The Linden city council, where Armstead has a majority, approved the pay raise last year.

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