To accept or not to accept a salary and health benefits? That is the question council members must answer after they're elected to serve Fair Lawn.
Elected officials can choose to receive an annual $2,500 salary for their public service, in addition to borough-provided medical, dental and prescription drug benefits.
Their decision need not be simply "yes" or "no." Council members are free to mix and match what they receive -- both salary and benefits, just benefits, just salary, etc.
In 2012, a council member who receives both the salary and full health care package does so at a cost to the borough of more than $30,000.
At the , amid discussion of employee layoffs, Mayor Jeanne Baratta made a proposal that council members voluntarily decline their salary and benefits.
"We all talk about how we want to help the taxpayers and every little bit helps," she said. "I think everybody needs to make sacrifices, so I’d like to put on the table that council members no longer receive salaries and benefits."
Deputy Mayor Trawinski seconded Baratta's proposal, calling it "important symbolism," even if it didn't reap large economic savings for the borough.
"Within the context of this budget it will yield little relief for the taxpayers," he said, "but nevertheless I believe it’s an important message that we send and I’m willing to support that."
Deputy Mayor Cosgrove and councilman Kurt Peluso also supported Baratta's voluntary call to refuse the borough-provided salary and benefits.
Councilwoman Lisa Swain abstained, saying she'd be willing to forego the salary but needed to discuss with her husband the possibility of finding another insurance provider.
"It costs us money to sit in this seat," said Swain, who is not eligible to receive benefits through her part-time employer. "I have to think about it, so I'm not going to vote on that right now."
Unable to achieve unanimity, the proposal was dropped and has not resurfaced at subsequent meetings.
Asked Tuesday, Swain said had discussed the issue with her husband but had not yet made a decision because doing so would require looking for benefits elsewhere.
This year, the borough is spending $68,900 to provide health benefits and salaries to council members.
A breakdown of the cost in salary and benefts for current borough council members since 2006:
$9,970.41$10,233.42 Council Member 2010 2011 2012(stipend projected) Total Jeanne Baratta $0 $0 $0 $0 John Cosgrove N/A N/A $0 $0 Kurt Peluso N/A N/A $27,851.16
$27,851.16 Lisa Swain $28,055.54 $28,228.74 $30,351.06 $132,142.37 Ed Trawinski $11,253.74 $7,538.16 $10,697.70 $63,444.59