News in brief


The Town of Kearny and the Kearny Fire Superior Officers Association Local 218, representing captains and deputy chiefs, have come to terms on a new 4-year labor contract running through Dec. 31, 2019.

The mayor and Town Council approved the pact May 10 and the KFSOA membership previously ratified it by a vote of 21-2, out of 26 members eligible, according to union president Andrew O’Donnell. A revised salary guide is up for adoption at the May 24 council meeting.

A new wrinkle contained in the agreement is the creation of a two-tiered salary structure which sets up a seven-step guide to reach maximum pay for those members promoted or hired after Jan. 1, 2016. The town previously devised a similar two-tier pay scale for the police.

Town Administrator Michael Martello said the agreement – the culmination of about eight months of negotiations – provides for a pay increase “within the [state-mandated] 2% cap.”

Annual base pay for the current 11 Tier 1 captains under the revised salary guide will rise, from $141,231, to $144,731, effective this year and will remain at that level for the life of the contract. One of those captains is retiring June 1.

Four of the five Tier 1 deputy chiefs will see their yearly base pay go from the current $177,659 to $181,159 while the fifth deputy chief’s pay will increase, from $163,017 to $165,000. Those new pay levels will also remain fixed through 2019.

Most of the Tier 1 superiors will be eligible to retire June 1, according to Fire Chief Steven Dyl.

A Tier 2 fire captain will start out earning $105,137 in 2016 and, over the life of the contract, will reach maximum base pay of $125,000 after seven years on the job. A Tier 2 deputy chief’s base pay will climb from $127,072 in 2016 to a top pay of $153,793, also after seven years.

In another development involving KFD personnel, the governing body introduced a salary ordinance establishing a six-step guide for newly appointed Fire Official/Chief Inspector Juan Barroso. Over the next six years, his salary will go from the current $111,000 to $127,000.

– Ron Leir



Efforts by the Borough of East Newark to attract a hotel operator to a redevelopment zone have gone nowhere but a commercial prospect has appeared.

Raymour & Flanigan, one of the largest furniture retailers in the U.S. with 95 stores and showrooms in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, now is looking to build a new store in the borough.

The site targeted by the company is a vacant tract on the west side of Passaic Ave. south of the railroad tracks in Kearny, which had served as a parking lot by the former First Republic Corp. and is zoned for a hotel or school.

An R&F representative told the borough governing body on May 11 that the company wanted to erect a two-story building of 25,000 to 30,000 square feet on the site.

Mayor Joseph Smith said that since the borough circulated a Request for Proposals for the tract, “we’ve had several interested parties come and look at it – different speculators,” with R&F as the most serious contender.

“We’re going to try and consider it,” Smith said, “but we’ve got to get a traffic study done. The main issue is traffic, to find out if they can get a curb cut on to Passaic Ave., a busy roadway.”

Additionally, Smith said, “we would have to change the zoning,” to accommodate a commercial use.

The mayor said the borough would not entertain the possibility of a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for the project because the local school system would be deprived of tax revenues “and we can’t afford that.”

Meanwhile, the borough is looking for a new part-time building inspector in place of Philip Fucetola, who is resigning the position. Smith said Fucetola is also leaving his job with the Lyndhurst Construction Department.

– Ron Leir       



Incumbents running in non-partisan municipal races in local Essex County communities covered by The Observer were all returned to office in the May 10 elections.

In Belleville, where only about 15% of eligible voters turned out, First Ward Councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke outpaced challenger Mary Higgins by a tally of 515 to 114.

Second Ward Councilman Steven Rovell, facing three opponents, managed to retain his seat. He garnered 485 votes; Carol Politz got 178, Jeffrey Mattingly, 152; and Gary Hinton, 84.

Third Ward Councilman Vincent Cozzarelli defeated challenger and former mayor William Escott by a margin of 455 to 88 and Fourth Ward Councilman Dr. John Notari beat opponent Diana Guardabasco by a vote of 490 to 172.

During the election campaign, Mattingly, who ran with Higgins on a “Belleville Reform” ticket, alleged that elected officials seemed to be headed on a course to promote high-density residential development that, he said, would only overtax demands on municipal services and increase local spending.

Further, Mattingly said, when the governing body introduces this year’s municipal budget, an independent analysis will show “some creative accounting and bookkeeping and employees working in positions where they shouldn’t be, resulting in some departments’ budgets expanding where they’re supposed to shrink.”

Despite a disappointing showing for the reform team in this election, Mattingly said that reform-minded residents would continue to hammer away at what he characterized as the local government’s “information control” tactics. When homeowners “see their taxes rise,” that will spur them into action, he said.

In Nutley, among the victors, Commissioner Joseph Scarpelli led all candidates with 3,597 votes, Commissioner Alphonse Petracco polled 3,242, Commissioner Thomas Evans, 3,193; Commissioner Mauro Tucci, 3,147; and Commissioner Steven Rogers, 3,061. For the challengers, the results were as follows: John V. Kelly III, 2,474; Frank Contella, 1,273; and Sam Fleitell, 1,273.

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