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Association of Municipal Assessors of New Jersey v. Township of Barnegat

Decided: September 30, 1992.

ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPAL ASSESSORS OF NEW JERSEY, A CORPORATION NOT FOR PROFIT, AND DEBORAH A. SPETTEL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF BARNEGAT AND MAYOR AND TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF BARNEGAT, DEFENDANTS



Rimm, J.t.c. (temporarily assigned).

Rimm

This is essentially a suit by plaintiff, Deborah A. Spettel, assessor of defendant, Township of Barnegat, for relief under N.J.S.A. 40A:9-165, the "statute," based on her allegations that she has been denied "without good cause an increase in salary given to all other municipal officers and employees." She will hereafter be referred to as "plaintiff." Plaintiff, Association of Municipal Assessors of New Jersey, is a not-for-profit organization composed of New Jersey assessors and organized for the improvement and advancement of the professionalism of its members.

Plaintiff is a certified tax assessor who has been the tax assessor of Barnegat Township for the past 17 years. She is a member of the Association. Defendant, Township of Barnegat, is a municipal corporation of the State of New Jersey in Ocean County. It will hereafter be referred to as "defendant." Defendants,

Mayor and Township Committee of the Township of Barnegat, constitute the governing body of defendant township.

By Resolution 1990-218, adopted on June 4, 1990, defendant established the salaries of specific municipal employees, including the tax assessor. The salary of the tax assessor was established at $30,685.94 for the year 1990. By Resolution 1991-239, adopted on June 19, 1991, defendant township established the salaries of specific municipal employees, including the tax assessor. The salary of the tax assessor was established at $32,066.81 for the year 1991. This salary constituted an increase of 4.5% over the salary for the assessor for 1990. The resolution providing for this increase refers to 11 "department heads" and includes the municipal clerk, the deputy clerk, the chief financial officer, the tax assessor, the tax collector, the court clerk, the recreation director, the zoning officer, the public works supervisor, the water and sewer supervisor and the water and sewer collector. There is actually a twelfth employee listed in the resolution, namely the chief of police, but, during the trial, the parties agreed that the resolution does not in fact cover him because he is the subject of a collective bargaining agreement with the Senior Officers Association.

By Resolution 1990-456, adopted on December 17, 1990, defendant established the salaries of specific municipal employees by way of the approval of a collective bargaining agreement with the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 14, AFL-CIO-CLC, for the years 1990 and 1991. The Resolution, and the collective bargaining agreement to which it refers, involves defendant's "white collar employees." The agreement specifically provides that for the year 1991 each fulltime employee and each part-time employee covered by the agreement shall receive an increase in wages of 6% over the employee's 1990 salary or wages, as the case may be.

By Resolution 1990-457, adopted on December 17, 1990, defendant established the salaries of specific municipal employees

by way of the approval of a collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters Local No. 35, affiliated with the I.B.T.C.W. & H. of America and the Eastern Conference of Teamsters for the years 1990 and 1991. The Resolution, and the collective bargaining agreement to which it refers, involves defendant's "blue collar employees." The agreement specifically provides that for the year 1991 each full-time employee and each part-time employee covered by the agreement shall receive an increase in wages of 6% over the employee's 1990 salary or wages, as the case may be.

Certain other employees were also given increases in their 1991 salaries over their 1990 salaries. Some time after July, 1991 and after the adoption of Ordinance 1991-239, fixing the salary of the assessor and providing for an increase for her and certain other employees of 4 1/2 over their 1990 salary, the municipality entered into two agreements with employees of the police department. One contract was with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union representing patrolmen. The other contract was with the Senior Officers' Association, the union representing other uniformed employees of the police department. Both contracts provided for increases in salary for 1991 of 5% over 1990.

Based on the four resolutions, plaintiff claims that the municipality has violated the provisions of the statute and that she is entitled to an increase in her salary for 1991 of 6% over her 1990 salary instead of an increase of 4 1/2. The statute in pertinent part reads as follows:

Salaries, wages or compensation fixed and determined by ordinance may, from time to time, be increased, decreased or altered by ordinance. No such ordinance shall reduce the salary of, or deny without good cause an increase in salary given to all other municipal officers and employees to, any tax assessor, chief financial officer, tax collector or municipal ...


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