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New Manager Contract May Bring More Savings Than Intended
Language in the contract intended to lower the monthly car allowance that Martin had received under previous contracts seems to replace it with just one payment at the start of the new contract. Moreover, a strict reading of the language used in the section on his potential annual raise seems base any increase on just the $4,000 car allowance payment and not Martin’s entire salary, which was $169,224 at the end of his most recent contract.
Under the new contract, which the Town Council approved at its July 22 meeting, Martin will no longer get a monthly car allowance. Since coming to Verona in 2004, Martin had been paid $600 a month in addition to his salary–an extra $7,200 a year–to cover the usage of his personal vehicle on town business.
The new contract specifies that Martin instead would get a $4,000 payment when the contract became effective, which was July 31. Town Council members approved the payment believing that it was a fairer estimate of Martin’s actual annual car usage on behalf of the town. Bob Manley, who is currently serving as mayor, said that the Council looked into providing Martin with a town-paid car and concluded that it would have been as much as $10,000 a year because of the need to factor insurance and gas into the cost of a town car.
Under the old contract, the car allowance was paid every month the contract was in force. But the new contract says only “Joseph A. Martin shall receive a salary increase of $4,000.00 on the commencement of this contract”. There is nothing in the document about years two and three.
The new contract also specifies that Martin could get an annual wage increase “not to exceed 2%” at the Council’s discretion. But the second sentence of this bullet point says: “The increase shall be exclusive to the $4,000.00 increase referenced above.”
According to Dictionary.com, “exclusive to” means “limited to”. So a strict reading of the contract implies that Martin could get an annual increase only on that one-time $4,000 payment–which would be $80 a year at most. Had the contract said “exclusive of” it would have implied that the $4,000 would not be counted as part of Martin’s base pay, just has his previous salary increases were not calculated on his base plus the $7,200 car allowance.
From conversations with Council members, it appears as if they intended the $4,000 to be paid to Martin annually, but to not have it counted in his base pay at raise time. Martin referred a call for comment to town attorney Michael Gannaio. The attorney said that any ambiguities in the contract would be addressed in a future closed-door session.
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