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May   2

Town Manager Loses Housing Perk

Harnett_r2_c2Montclair Township Manager Joe Hartnett is about to have his three year contract renewed, but there is a major change: he's losing the controversial housing allowance - $591 a month - that the town's been paying. Mayor Remsen said: "It's just too sensitive an issue."  Right now, Hartnett is also getting the township's top salary. From the Star Ledger:

The current contract, though, comes with this guarantee: His base salary will be the highest paid any Montclair township employee, including the negotiated salaries of the police and fire chiefs. If his base salary doesn't come out as No. 1, he's entitled to a check for the difference, plus a dollar.

Hartnett said he has no qualms about losing the housing subsidy. "It's what the total package is," he said.

And Hartnett has made another kind of breakthrough: after months of playing real estate roulette, it seems like Mr. and Mrs H. will be moving to Montclair. Even though they didn't take us up on our offer to help find a home, they have a house under contract and plan to close on June 15.

May 2, 2006 in Only in Montclair | Permalink


If we just had another 20,000 more Mr. Hartnett's all losing their housing allowance we could erase this year's property tax increase!

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 9:04:15 AM

It's too bad that $120K salary isn't "enough" to buy a home.

Posted by: Krys O. | May 2, 2006 9:08:40 AM

Why don't Mr. and Mrs. H. live on one salary and bank the other to use as a down payment?

Posted by: Vayacondia | May 2, 2006 9:12:37 AM

This "housing allowance" number has been all over the place. At one time it was $1,400 a month. Now it's under $600. How and why do these numbers keep changing all the time?

Posted by: pennypincher | May 2, 2006 9:14:36 AM

Guys, it's called *negotiation* as in you get what you can get.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 9:15:01 AM

Dear Right,

You mean the town "negotiated" the $1,400 down to $591 and now down to "zero?"

Posted by: pennypincher | May 2, 2006 9:26:53 AM

no I meant in response getting an allowance in the first place. It is part of his "package" and as such a term of negotiation.

$128,000 seems a reasonable salary for the job to me.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 9:31:53 AM

Frankly, I think the amount's too low.

Posted by: appletony | May 2, 2006 9:48:15 AM

Just to put in my "two cents" here, I've long thought the town should pay people competitive salaries and benefits. In business, Joe's salary would be very reasonable, probably low. And housing "differentials" are paid all the time.

Montclair is now "big business." It's really a $200MM "company" and we should pay people appropriately. Looking for the least expensive person, someone who is underpaid, for example, is often not the best course of action for a business or a community. Paying for good people, and incorporating performance bonuses is the way to go.

Having the right person in place, and adequately compensating them will turn out to be a wise investment for the town.

Posted by: carya | May 2, 2006 9:53:54 AM

You could be right, perhaps then, the need for other perks. I have no complaints about his management so far. My quibbles are more on the political choices being made. (spending)

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 9:55:13 AM

My comment was in response to appletony's

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 9:55:44 AM

I agree with carya too. I only wish there were a way Montclair could be a $150MM company!

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 9:57:14 AM

Incentive bonuses... hmmm...
maybe he should get an extra $150K if he helps bring about a no-increase budget. That, plus $500/month for putting up with back seat drivers on Baristanet (special annoyance incentive pay).

Posted by: appletony | May 2, 2006 10:00:59 AM

Doesn't Mr. Hartnett already live in Montclair?

Posted by: htb | May 2, 2006 10:01:52 AM

More Montclair math?

The Town Manager "loses" his $591 per month housing allowance (which was $1600+ at one point) but his salary has gone from $120,000 to $132,00?

Now let’s see, even with my limited math education, $591 times 12 is $7,092.

Thus, he traded a $7,092 housing allowance for a $12,000 increase in salary?

Nice sacrifice!

Posted by: exit_151 | May 2, 2006 10:02:59 AM

From what I read he is very happy with his new package and has not complained about losing his housing allowance.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 2, 2006 10:05:47 AM

"$150K if he helps bring about a no-increase budget."

I'd welcome that!

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 10:07:18 AM

So, you mean to tell me that the most important issue for this guy is that he gets paid MORE than anyone else?

Wow! That's an eye opener!

I’m trying to teach my four year old what the meaning of "fair" is, as in "no, you don’t HAVE To have the biggest piece of cake dear."

Posted by: Laurie | May 2, 2006 10:07:22 AM

Being paid more that all your underlings seems also reasonable to me. Sort of a "most favored nations" (plus $1) clause.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 10:12:48 AM

ROC said
"I have no complaints about his management so far"

you mean that you approve of the 24/7 use of township vehicles for things like commuting and vacation travel as well as the township supplying gas and insurance for those SUVs.

Ed Remsen said that they had just approved another SUV in a council vote last week - why an SUV? wouldn't a station wagon do?

Posted by: pissant | May 2, 2006 10:13:05 AM

If what that vehicle "buys" is 24 hour availability and transport for, say the fire chief, anywhere in the township, then no, I don't have a problem with it at all.

You have made up the "vacation travel" part.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 10:16:20 AM

"why an SUV? wouldn't a station wagon do?"

There is some kind of tax credit for a business buying an SUV that a station wagon wouldn't qualify for.

I don't understand it completely, but with the tax credit the SUV was probably dirt cheap (minus the fuel) for the town to buy.

Now I'd like to see a fuel allowance cap to happen. Time to conserve, and even carpool down at city hall.

Posted by: hrhppg | May 2, 2006 10:18:52 AM

"There is some kind of tax credit for a business buying an SUV that a station wagon wouldn't qualify for."

Not any more. Congress closed this loophole this session.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 10:20:11 AM

"Time to conserve, and even carpool down at city hall."

These vehicles are not just to drive to city hall. They are used to drive *all over* town all day (and sometimes at 2am) in the performance of their duties.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 2, 2006 10:21:42 AM

i'm not talking about the Fire or Police Chief. and by the way, their SUVs are marked with decals.

i'm talking about at least 24 other SUVs.

i don't think Montclair's paying for the commute from Morris county on a daily basis is warranted(including gas).

nor is the paying for a hunting and fishing vacation that was taken in a town car.

but, i guess that's the kind of "availability" that you're willing to pay for.

Posted by: pissant | May 2, 2006 10:29:06 AM

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