Union County commissioners voted to give themselves 2% pay hikes immediately after the latest election, along with passing some hefty salary increases for top government administrators.
Democrats, who hold all nine seats on the governing body, “wasted no time after the November election in raising their own pay with seeming impunity,” according to Summit Republican Party Chairperson Steven Spurr.
Spurr said Union County government eats up 27 percent of the property tax bills paid by Summit homeowners, so the community is sensitive to reckless spending.
The board approved an ordinance that set pay for the chairperson at $37,178.36, $35,998.29 for the vice-chairperson, and $34,818.23 for each of the remaining seven county commissioners.
An 18.8% salary increase for Union County Manager Ed Oatman brings his salary to $220,977.01 — significantly more than the $175,000 paid to New Jersey’s governor or the $174,000 salaries for members of the United States Congress.
Oatman, who lives in Woodbridge and is a partner in the political consulting firm that handles most Democratic campaign operations in the county, worked as an aide to political boss Senator Nicholas “No-show Nick” Scutari.
Joshua Bochner, a resident of Berkeley Heights, alleged that Oatman’s work with the political consulting firm presents a conflict of interest with his government duties.
He came to the job in 2018 with a $150,800 salary and no executive governmental experience although the Middlesex County resident worked as an assistant for Scutari, former Assemblywoman Linda Stender, and Assemblyman Jim Kennedy. Oatman was also the Union County campaign coordinator for Governor Phil Murphy.
Oatman now has responsibility for all day-to-day operations and a half-billion-dollar yearly budget that includes about 2,800 full-time employees.
As a trustee at Kean University, Oatman voted to approve the $420,938 salary for Lamont O. Repollet as the 18th president of the public school.
The Summit Republicans were also critical of the 9.1% raise for Administrative Services Director Laura Scutari, whose uncle is the Union County political boss.