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* Solemn Applause For Pay Increases


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The Mayor & Council passed a Salary Ordinance tonight which provided retroactive pay increases for years 2007, 2008 and 2009 but froze Civil Service worker's salaries for 2010 and 2011. A large crowd filled the council chambers.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Peter Higgins. The Holy Cross Church bells began ringing as Mayor McDonough finished announcing the moment of silence as if on cue. Pete wanted us to know he was present in the council chambers once again.

Pete's sister Harrison's Chief Financial Officer, Beth Higgins, stated that the money to pay the retro pay increases was in reserve and had been in reserve in anticipation of a possible future settlement. Good news. Although I am of the opinion that the Town cannot afford any pay increases even retro increases, I am pleased that the retro pay increases will not add to the future tax burden of Harrison's taxpayers. In addition, I am pleased that there were will be no pay increases in 2010 and 2011.

At the end of the meeting, there was a show of approval for the Mayor & Council's passage of the salary increase. Town workers will be receiving a retro check in the very near future and expressed their approval with a burst of applause.

The applause was subdued by rumors that some of the town's workers are scheduled to be laid off. Harrison is about to be hit by a huge budget shortfall forcing the hand of Mayor McDonough's administration. Layoffs are unheard of in the Town of Harrison but they will undoubtedly be necessary in the face of a State budget shortfall and the unlikelihood that the Christie administration is going to restore 5 million dollars in state aid pulled by Governor Jon Corzine.

An incident that occurred in front of Town Hall after the meeting demonstrates the level of frustration that taxpayers are experiencing. While Town Workers are receiving retro pay increases, taxpayers are trying to figure out how to pay their ever increasing property taxes in the face of job loses. Town workers should be sensitive to their fellow Harrisonian's plight. One resident got loud expressing his disapproval of town worker pay increases. As expected, a town worker responded back. Although calmer heads prevailed to defuse the confrontation, Harrison Police officers stood by to make sure that the peace was maintained. As one resident pointed out this is not a fight between us and them, it is a fight for the survival of every Harrisonian. True. It is easier to have a clear mind when you know that you have a weekly paycheck. It is harder to think clearly when your weekly paycheck has been cut off and others are getting retro active pay increases. I condone any physical confrontation. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been proud of those who stepped in to defuse the confrontation on his official birthday.

The weeks and months to come will test the resolve of all Harrisonians. Our political leaders must get together and put together a plan on how to weather the economic storm facing the town. Town workers must do their best to assist. Every interaction with town residents is going to matter. Town workers should be thankful for all that has been given them. It is significant.

I plan on being part of the solution. I ask that the good citizens of Harrison join the effort. It is your Harrison, it's up to you to make a difference.

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