UPDATE 1/19: On Thursday night, the ordinance was withdrawn after a unanimous vote by the Wayne Township Council, 9-0.

WAYNE — A plan to give the township mayor a roughly 647% pay increase was at a crossroads ahead of a council meeting Wednesday night.

Wayne Township Mayor Christopher Vergano has successfully been elected four terms in a row since 2008 — as a part-time position.

Earlier this month, Vergano spoke at the town’s reorganization meeting about the ordinance to amend his office into a full-time post, with a salary of $140,000 as well as benefits and leave time “afforded to other full-time department head employees.”

It was then introduced by Wayne Township Councilman Jason DeStefano, “with the stipulation that we send it to our Finance and Administration Committee” — of which DeStefano is a member, along with Councilmembers David Varano, Richard Jasterzbski and Fran Ritter.

Read More: Wayne, NJ mayor would get 647% pay bump in proposed full-time gig 

Within the following two weeks, the plan became a hot-button issue not just within Wayne but around the state, including the debate over whether such a change should include meaningful input from local taxpayers, such as by referendum.

Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano (Wayne Township)
Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano (Wayne Township)

Ahead of Wednesday’s town council meeting, Vergano requested the ordinance be pulled from the agenda.

Ritter, the only Democrat on the nine-member town council, urged residents not to “be misled.”

“While the Mayor now wants his Full-Time Mayor Ordinance pulled from tonight’s Council’s meeting agenda, that can only be accomplished by a majority vote of the Council. Effectively, this still leaves the Council with the authority to hold the public hearing and its final vote to approve the Mayor’s Full-Time Mayor Ordinance tonight,” Ritter said to New Jersey 101.5.

“And, if the Ordinance is pulled, it is unclear whether it will be proposed again in the future.”

Wayne Councilman Jason DeStefano on mayoral ordinance (Townsquare Media)
Wayne Councilman Jason DeStefano on mayoral ordinance (Townsquare Media)

DeStefano agreed with the idea of taking the “man out of the equation” and not focusing just on Vergano’s potential pension or health benefits when deciding whether the change would be right for the township.

“This is about Wayne’s future and what’s best for the taxpayers of Wayne, not just right now in the present but five mayors down the line,” he said.

DeStefano added he was bothered by some public attention on the current mayor’s medical history as a cancer survivor, saying “it played no role in a decision factor.”

“Going down that route is just uncalled for, because at the end of the day we all have a decision to make — and that’s make the best decision for the township,” DeStefano continued, saying he felt that "everyone on the council" regardless of political party genuinely cared about Wayne.

In an anecdotal, “snap” survey online by TAPinto Wayne, 87% of more than 500 respondents disagreed with the plan to convert the position into a pricier, full-time job.

An online petition that supported putting the mayoral issue on a ballot for voter input also drew roughly 750 signatures.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

NJ mayors who make 6-figure salaries

As of 2023, there are at least a dozen full-time mayors around New Jersey making six-figure salaries for their positions.

Newark, Woodbridge and Elizabeth have helped lead the pack. Jersey City, Paterson, Edison and Wayne more recently adjusted their pay for the elected post.

Changes in NJ county populations since 2020

Census Bureau estimates of the change in county populations since the 2020 Census on April 1, 2020 also provide a glimpse into COVID-era trends, as that's roughly the same time the pandemic began. The list below sorts New Jersey's 21 counties by their total change between the Census and the July 1, 2021 estimate.

LOOK: Here's where people in every state are moving to most

Stacker analyzed the Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey data to determine the three most popular destinations for people moving out of each state.

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

How much does the average NJ home cost? Median prices by county

Everything is costing more these days — and housing is certainly no exception in New Jersey.

Data for 2022 from January through August, compiled by New Jersey Realtors, shows that South Jersey has been seeing homes hit the market and sell in less than a month, on average.

Median prices for single-family homes have reached $500,000 and above in nine counties in North and Central Jersey.

All but two counties have seen houses go for more than the list price, on average, this year.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM