Political Opponent Blasts Stafford Administrator’s Salary

Litter and Proposed Plastic Bag Ban Also Discussed
May 23, 2018

Stafford Township Administrator James Moran’s employment agreement came under fire at the township council meeting last week.

 

Paul Krier, a township council candidate on the Stafford Conservatives ticket in the upcoming primary election, criticized the agreement, which provides for a one-year leave of absence; 30 vacation days (which Krier considers to be “excessive”); two longevity raises, 5 and 7 percent, which are no longer offered; and a $3,000 educational incentive payment (which Krier described as “ridiculous”).

 

“Moran should never have been hired, should not have been given this gold-plated agreement, and he should be terminated,” Krier concluded, having calculated Moran’s total compensation, including raises and benefits, to be over $250,000 a year. The agreement is not in the best interest of Stafford, he added. Moreover, Krier accused Moran of being a political campaign supporter of Mayor John Spodofora’s.

Moran explained that longevity raises and the educational stipend were both grandfathered into his agreement.

Spodofora defended Moran, saying there are good reasons for the salary Moran earns.

The town has reduced its staff by 30 employees through attrition and consolidation of positions, representing more than $3 million, Spodofora said. Moran has taken over many responsibilities formerly held by others, for a fraction of the cost; he does his job without a deputy administrator; he does not get overtime, comp time or special treatment. The town saves $347,000 a year thanks to the workload Moran takes on, Spodofora said, and “we’ve been very successful in keeping down the costs of operations.”

“Since I’ve been mayor, the tax rate has only increased by 1.4 cents,” Spodofora said. “That’s pretty impressive. And we’ve reduced the bonding debt by $45.5 million.”

Moran pointed out Stafford’s police chief and captain both make more than he does, the CFO’s salary is equal to Moran’s, and the police lieutenants make almost as much.

Councilman William Fessler also jumped to Moran’s defense, praising the work he has done to the town’s benefit. Moran “oversees 200 employees, and works multiple jobs because he took over the water department, among many other extra responsibilities,” Fessler said. “He has a very big job, a very big job.” Moran finds grant money and comes up with cost-saving ideas, he said. The cost to replace Moran would be far greater because it would require multiple people, he added.

When the previous Administrator Paul Shives left, 10 years ago, Moran said, his compensation package was worth $275,000.

Meanwhile, Spodofora announced Councilman Steve Jeffries’ resignation via letter he submitted May 10. Jeffries will be replaced shortly, he said. The next town meeting is May 29.

In his administrator’s report, Moran gave some roadwork and commercial project updates. The East Road intersection reconfiguration project (by the Exxon station) is out to bid and will be under construction by the fall if bids come in at engineering estimates, he said. An electric pole at the corner of Route 72 and Barnacle Drive was moved in preparation for the conversion of that intersection – one of the town’s deadliest, he noted – to “right in, right out.” Left turns will no longer be allowed into or out of that neighborhood. The Kmart plaza continues a push toward renovation, he said, with more than $25 million in upgrades to the plaza anticipated over the next two years.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Neptune Drive resident Matt Bernstein, a local social studies teacher, carried up to the lectern a garbage bag containing 27 pounds of litter he has collected from the retention basin across the street from the Buy Rite liquor store. His request to the town officials: Let’s hold Buy Rite to its environmental and social responsibility.

The litter is an eyesore, he said.

Moran agreed they could encourage the store’s owner to begin a program to police the area around his store. The problem is present in the nearby woods and the storm drains as well as the basin area across the street.

Spodofora thanked Bernstein for his efforts to clean up the area.

Later, Virginia Drive resident Richie Gilchrist added that rather than singling out one business owner, the town should go after all liquor stores and/or the people actually doing the littering.

Russell Davis of Breakers Drive, who has been vocally opposed to the town’s proposed ban on plastic bags, brought up during the public comment period a list of the most polluting countries in the world, of which China was at the top. Again he challenged the mayor and council: How much plastic does Stafford actually put into the ocean?

Spodofora said he couldn’t answer that because once plastic gets into the waste stream it’s impossible to trace its source, but what matters is that Stafford contributes to the problem. A ban is needed because “anything we’re doing to contribute to the problem is a problem for us,” he said. The point is everyone needs to do their part to reduce the impact. China has put a total plastic ban in place this year, he added.

Knowledge leads to responsibility, which leads to action, Spodofora said.

But why must it be legislated? Davis asked, insisting Stafford’s pollution is not severe enough to justify an ordinance. Spodofora does not believe the shift from single-use to reusable bags will happen any other way.

— Victoria Ford

victoria@thesandpaper.net

 

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