TEANECK, N.J. -- A contentious discussion at Tuesday night's Teaneck council meeting regarding the controversial but ongoing practice of paying employees and officials for "health care waivers" was not heard by Mayor Lizette Parker, who is one of the recipients of the money.
"I have recused myself from any comment on the health care waivers,” the mayor told Daily Voice Wednesday evening by phone. Parker has been off on bereavement leave but has been present at some social functions.
The waivers are authorized under state law but prohibited by a Teaneck ordinance that was written in the 1960s and reauthorized when the entire municipal code was recodified in 1988, according to former Township Attorney Martin Cramer.
Cramer attended Tuesday’s meeting and told the governing body that it is illegal to continue the payments.
Ordinance No. 3158 reads: “This insurance program shall not entitle any employee or other person hereunder to receive remuneration in lieu of accepting the benefits of this program.”
No figure has been given for the payments, which Township Manager William Broughton also gets at more than $13,000 annually.
Payments vary based on different insurance factors. Government watchdog Chuck Powers of Teaneck Transparency said the amount spent in 2014 was $390,000.
He estimates 2015’s figure at $420,000 or $430,000, and it will be “much more” for 2016 because the state health benefits plan has increased in price. It affects more than 50 employees and council members elected before 2010.