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Adams v. Mayor and Common Council

Decided: June 14, 1932.

PAUL P. ADAMS, PROSECUTOR,
v.
MAYOR AND COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD, RESPONDENTS; THOMAS L. CONSHAY, PROSECUTOR, V. GEORGE B. WEAN, CITY CLERK OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD, RESPONDENT



On certiorari.

For the prosecutors, McCarter & English and Winfield S. Angleman.

For the respondent, William Newcorn.

Before Justices Parker, Campbell and Lloyd.

Lloyd

LLOYD, J. These cases were argued together and will be disposed of in one opinion. Writs of certiorari were granted in each case to review, in the one (No. 235) an ordinance reducing the salaries of firemen in the city of Plainfield and in the other (No. 266), an ordinance reducing the salaries of policemen in the same city.

The prosecutors in both cases contend that the ordinances were invalid because beyond the power of the council to adopt them.

The police ordinance is attacked additionally on the grounds that it violated the Tenure of Office act, that it violated a contract, and that it was defective in its title. In the firemen's ordinance it is contended additionally that the reduction in salary could not be effected by an amendatory ordinance, but that the original ordinance would have first to be repealed.

The prosecutors in both cases place reliance on chapter 162, laws of 1929 (Pamph. L., p. 291), the effect of which will be referred to later.

The power to regulate salaries is accorded by article 13, section 1 of chapter 152, laws of 1917 (Pamph. L., p. 319), as amended by chapter 134, laws of 1928 (Pamph. L., p. 279), which provides that "the governing body of every municipality shall have power and authority, by ordinance, notwithstanding any maximum or minimum limitation now fixed by statute, to fix and determine the amount of salary, wages and compensation to be paid to each officer, employe, servant and agent of such municipality who by law is entitled to be paid a salary, wage or compensation" excepting certain elective officers and others whose salaries were fixed by the voters or by referendum.

From this it would seem beyond all question that the municipality was empowered by the act cited to fix the salaries of its police officers and firemen either by increasing or decreasing the compensation theretofore established, unless other legislation be found circumscribing this authority.

In this situation the act of 1929 is appealed to by the prosecutors. It provides as follows: "In addition to the

methods now prescribed by law, the governing body of any municipality in this state is hereby authorized and empowered to fix and determine by ordinance, the annual compensation of all municipal employes, including members of the police and fire departments of any such municipality; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to ...


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