Mayor Pasquale Menna, left, and Councilman Michael Ballard, right, squared off over the proposed clerk’s salary. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s council put off hiring a new borough clerk over salary issues Wednesday night.

During the governing body’s monthly workshop session, Councilman Michael Ballard, a contender to displace Pasquale Menna as mayor, accused Menna of playing “Monday night quarterback” for raising concerns late in the process.

At issue was the expected appointment of Laura Reinertsen, right, as borough clerk. She would succeed Pam Borghi, who retired last week after 28 years on the borough payroll, the last 12 as clerk.

Reinertsen most recently held the dual posts of administrator and borough clerk in Kenilworth, in Union County. She has not responded to a redbankgreen request for confirmation.

The appointment was tabled, however, after Menna said the borough’s salary ordinance would first have to be amended to accommodate an annual salary of $105,000 for Reinertsen.

That’s $10,000 above the $75,000-to-$95,000 range in the ordinance, and out of line given the size of the borough, Menna said.

The sum “substantially exceeds” the borough range, Menna said, adding that the “range” for the same position in Middletown, a township with five times the population of Red Bank, was “$107,000.”

(UPDATE: The Middletown clerk’s salary is $116,537, according to township Administrator Tony Mercantante.)

Borghi “was phenomenal and wasn’t making more than ordinance,” said Councilwoman Kate Triggiano.

Menna said  a “finding of fact” and ordinance amendment might be needed before the council could proceed.

Attorney Greg Cannon said such amendments are typically concurrent with a hiring resolution. No such amendment was on the agenda, however.

Ballard said the council had been “put in a precarious situation” of having to appoint a new clerk on a tight deadline, and of the two final candidates, “we just felt [Reinertsen] was the best one, and this was the salary range she requested. She’s a very experienced clerk,” he said, before Cannon advised him not to discuss “qualitative” matters regarding candidates.

Ballard said the council was “very concerned about the salaries that were requested. But we had to make a choice. We were put in a very bad situation, and we had to make the best of that situation.”

Councilman Ed Zipprich asked Menna why he hadn’t raised his concerns in executive sessions, the closed-door meetings during which the hiring decision was made.

“It would have been much more useful if you had brought that forward” in the session, Zipprich said.

Though Menna said he had raised the issue in executive session, Ballard disputed that.

“To now, you know, Monday-night quarterback this is just ridiculous,”

The appointment was tabled until the next council session, scheduled for March 23, provided there is enough time to advertise a salary ordinance amendment as required by state law.

Ballard last week won the backing of the local Democratic organization chaired by Zipprich as nominee to run for mayor in November, rejecting Menna, who has held the post since 2007. Menna has not yet announced whether he’ll mount a challenge in the June primary elections.

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