This opinion supplements an oral opinion rendered on September 21, 1981. It treats an issue not before decided in this State.
The form of municipal government of the Township of Cherry Hill changed on July 1, 1981 from Council-Manager to Mayor-Council
Plan B under the Faulkner Act, N.J.S.A. 40:69A-1 et seq. At the first organizational meeting under the new form of government a general ordinance fixing the salaries of all township employees, including the mayor, council president and council members was adopted. Those salaries are larger than the salaries of the mayor and council members under the prior form of government. Plaintiff seeks a referendum to have the voters approve or reject those salaries. Plaintiff additionally argues that the compensation of the municipal attorney must be fixed by ordinance and not by resolution.
Plaintiff, pro se, filed a complaint in lieu of prerogative writs to compel the Cherry Hill Township Clerk to include on the November 3, 1981 ballot a referendum concerning the salaries of the mayor, president of council, council members and municipal attorney as they were fixed in Ordinance 81-42, adopted July 13, 1981. Plaintiff's petitions were alleged to include a total of 5% of the registered voters of the township, as required under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-165.
Petitions were submitted by plaintiff on August 4 and 5, 1981. On August 24, 1981 the clerk invalidated a number of signatures under § 165 of 40A:9.
On August 26, 1981 Cherry Hill Ordinances 81-49, 81-50, 81-51 and 81-52 were adopted. Ordinance 81-49 is a general salary ordinance fixing the compensation of officers and employees of Cherry Hill and is virtually the same as Ordinance 81-42 except it excludes from its terms the salaries of mayor, president of council and council members. Ordinance 81-50 fixes the compensation of the mayor for 1981 at $34,200, thereby reducing it by 10% of the amount fixed by Ordinance 81-42.
Ordinance 81-51 fixes the compensation of the president of council for 1981 at $9,500, reducing by $1,500 the salary provided for in Ordinance 81-42.
Ordinance 81-52 fixes the compensation of council members for 1981 at $9,000, reducing their compensation by $1,000 from the original ordinance.
At oral argument plaintiff urged that, consistent with the liberality afforded to the electorate to protest the actions of government through the process of referendum, the procedure under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-167-168 is supportive of allowing the referendum challenging ...