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Hudson Garage Elevator Out of Service Again

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, several Village employees were met by hostile commentators  this week ,because once again commuters and central business district patrons were greeted by out of service elevators at the Hudson Garage .

Continue reading Hudson Garage Elevator Out of Service Again

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Reader suggests all 5 council members should meet with each department again to reevaluate and understand what’s been going on

New Ridgewood Council Gets Down to Village Business

file photo by Boyd Loving

She exhibited several episodes of unprofessionalism and inappropriate behavior to be our village manager. Her classless, drama-filled exit yesterday; interfering with citizen’s right to petition and most importantly spending over $200,000 of taxpayer money on a highly contested, questionable outcome of the garage. She signed construction documents committing to a floor plan for the garage BEFORE the November vote. She did not seem to understand that she reported to a 5 member council, that all 5 members represent residents. Her treatment towards 2 council members and residents was horrible and several displays of arrogant, disrespectful treatment not only displayed bad judgment but her incapability to manage effectively. I think all 5 council members should meet with each department again to reevaluate and understand what’s been going on (Roberta led meetings with new council members but her presence thwarted full disclosure from employees).

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Ridgewood Water isn’t good enough for some Village employees to drink

ridgewood Water

February 13,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, A recent OPERA request turned up the Village was buying bottled water .I guess Ridgewood Water isn’t good enough for some employees.  Maybe it’s the lead.

Village eblast January 5th 2015 , “The water supplied by Ridgewood Water does not have lead in it.  A small number of homes in the Ridgewood Water service territory have plumbing materials that can leach lead into the water which caused an exceedance of the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for lead during routine testing in 2012.  Regulatory agencies require that water utilities test for lead by setting up “worst‐case‐ scenarios” at locations at increased risk such as those known to have lead service lines.  Additionally, the samples taken for testing must be water that has been undisturbed and in contact with the household plumbing for at least 6 hours.  These samples are usually taken in the morning before any water has been used including the flushing of toilets.  Therefore, samples are usually collected by residents.   Each participating resident received the test results for their specific location.    Additionally, virtually every faucet has brass components that contain a percentage of lead.  This is why it is prudent to let a faucet run for several seconds before using the water for cooking and drinking, especially if the faucet has not been used for several hours.  If your service line is made of lead, run the water for a longer period to clear all of the water from the service line.  Please call 201‐ 670‐3372 if you are unsure of your service line material. Ridgewood Water will start using a phosphate‐based additive later this year that will also address this issue by coating the lines and faucets effectively stopping the leaching of lead into the water”

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Village Officials cannot disregard laws

Village Council

file photo by Boyd Loving


Officials cannot disregard laws

To the Editor:

Certain elected and appointed officials in Ridgewood increasingly disregard local ordinances. This is unacceptable.

The organizational chart was revised, creating some positions. A human resources director was hired and working for quite some time before the position even existed. The chart should have been rewritten, then a discussion should have taken place among the entire Village Council at a public meeting, followed by a vote. Then, and only then, should a person have been hired to fill any new position.

Instead, the revisions were introduced and voted in by three council members well after the fact.

Village Code indicates that new hires for civil service classified positions and employees in newly created positions should be hired at the lowest possible salary in the range. At least one new employee has been brought in at a higher salary. Now, the village manager wants to change the ordinance to allow some leeway with new salary offers. While flexibility should be allowed when hiring, this should not have happened before the law was changed.

Laws should be amended as needed, but they cannot be disregarded because an elected (or appointed) government official feels like it. A law should be modified when necessary, and then (and not a moment sooner) the new regulation can be followed.

In the same vein, the third line of a recent grant application regarding the Schedler property states that all members of the Village Council had reviewed the document. This is false. At least one elected Village Council member indicated not even seeing the application before it was submitted.

First, I do not understand why everyone on the council had not seen the document; who is it that decides to bypass the input of certain elected officials? But, since it was not distributed to all, the application should have been withdrawn until all had the opportunity to read it. On Sept. 9, the response from some on the dais about this was that this is common procedure, as long as the final resolution is accurate. I am appalled that some of our officials would willingly sign and send a grant application that starts right out with a known lie.

In a true emergency a rule might be broken. If your child is bleeding heavily, you would rush to the hospital, disregarding speed limits. But these cases have not even remotely been urgent. I am left with the impression that laws are, to certain of our elected and appointed officials, merely suggestions that they can take or leave.

Those who are not diligent disciples of our Village Code, who submit official documents that are known by them to contain inaccuracies, are not appropriate representatives of the citizenry of Ridgewood. They make a mockery of our local village government.

Anne LaGrange Loving


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Ridgewood proposal would allow higher pay rate



Last week, the Village Council discussed a possible change to an ordinance that would allow for the hiring of employees at a pay rate higher than the lowest salary possible on a case-by-case basis.

The ordinance would give the village manager discretion in hiring an employee with qualifications that suggest bringing them on at a higher salary, which officials said would allow the village to get the best employee for the position.

Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld characterized the change as an attempt to update an ordinance that has become obsolete. The amended ordinance would only apply to Civil Service classified positions that have already been budgeted.

“When you think about the police and bringing in inter-governmental transfers, we would not bring them in at step one. We would bring them in higher,” Sonenfeld said. “Or to the extent we’re bringing in somebody to the water utility that has certain licensing that has different market value than it had, those are the kinds of things I’m thinking about.”

Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli said the change would be a good one since it would give the manager “flexibility” to do whatever is necessary to get the best candidate. The ordinance, as it is currently written, could eliminate candidates who might otherwise be desirable.

Pucciarelli also referenced a situation that occurred in January 2014 when the Ridgewood Police Department had more officers hired than the ordinance allowed as an example of why this change would be beneficial.

“I think that’s consistent with good management rather than as we saw, for example, a couple of years ago in the case of the police department,” said Pucciarelli. “We had a number of police that was established and I said ‘well, maybe we’re breaking the law, but that’s not a good law. Why should the council establish the number of policemen? That’s a management function and it should be done on a case-by-case basis or in conjunction with the chief of police.'”

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Reader says As long as the employee remains employed, this astounding rate of increase is all but guaranteed



Reader says As long as the employee remains employed, this astounding rate of increase is all but guaranteed

Why have we made such generous promises on accumulated sick leave to municipal employees ? Ridgewood employees receive 15 sick days per year (vs. 3~5 for the average U.S. employee). Unused days may be accumulated at current pay levels until retirement, at which time retirees may elect to take half the accumulated days off with pay (up to 3-6 months, depending on department) or receive an equivalent lump sum payment at the much higher pre-retirement compensation level. The allowed sick days are in addition to generous vacations, with a starting vacation benefit for Ridgewood employees of 12-13 days, depending on department, which can grow up to a maximum of 31 days. This compares to median full-time U.S. workers receiving only 13 days of paid leave per year. The FAC recommended that the maximum number of permitted paid sick days be reduced from 15 to 7 days per calendar year, and that all sick days (up to a maximum of seven) must be used during the calendar year. Unused sick days should NOT be accumulated beyond December 31st of the same calendar year, in which they are permitted. Sick days should not be transferrable to another employee.

In practice it looks like unionized municipal workers automatically get their annual negotiated wage increases, PLUS annual step wage increases, cost of living adjustments, longetivity bonuses, etc. The STEP schedules rapidly accelerate employees’ base salaries every year, particularly in the first 10 years of employment. One Ridgewood Step Schedule for employees hired after 2010 starts at a base salary of $32,000 in the first year of employment. Under the schedule, the base salary increases to $81,971 by the end of the fifth year of employment. This represents an incredible 156% increase or a compounded annual rate of increase over 20%. This does not include the publicly disclosed 4.2% annual wage increase or a 2% bonus after year four. As long as the employee remains employed, this astounding rate of increase is all but guaranteed. Although the agreements state that the annual increases are “not automatic”, employees expect them and, in practice, it is rare that they are not approved.

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