“It was a conditional letter, meaning he would not take the raise if his Directors would not get one.” John Ricci, Hamilton Business Administrator, May 15th response to my question about John Bencivengo’s letter withdrawing from a raise in 2010.
Thanks to a Hamilton Council version of the Monopoly Community Chest Card saying BANK ERROR IN YOUR FAVOR , Mayor Bencivengo continues to reap a windfall pay raise that has already totaled $11,500. Hamilton Township. Democrats today called on the All-Republican Council to rescind that pay hike and to demand restitution from the Mayor for the money he has already taken.
During salary ordinance deliberations in 2010, Mayor Bencivengo sent a letter dated March 1, 2010 to Council writing, “I am withdrawing personally from any increase in salary,” as he declined any hike in the salary ordinance for the office of mayor. Bencivengo March 1, 2010 Salary Letter
Apparently the All-Republican Council neglected to have their salary ordinance reflect the Mayor’s request and the ordinance, as passed, included an increase from $97,978 to $104,551 for the mayor, a jump of 7% – not the 3.5% portrayed to taxpayers.
Perhaps an honest mayor would have called out the error, but in this case Mayor Bencivengo took the checks and cashed them, netting himself a windfall of over $11,500 to-date.
All of this would probably gone undiscovered if representatives of the Hamilton Township Democratic party hadn’t gone to Council to protest another pay raise for the mayor scheduled to take effect July 1 of this year despite his federal charges of extortion and bribery. During discussion of the new hike, it was revealed that the mayor was already collecting a raise he had supposedly turned down in 2010!
The Hamilton Democrats shamed the All-Republican council into taking some action at that meeting to rescind the July 1 hike but council took no action on the earlier windfall for the mayor. Ironically, Mayor Bencivengo wrote another salary letter (Bencivengo Salary) on May 4, 2012 declining this latest increase. In that letter, he makes no mention of the money he has already collected.
Whether it is in the form of a resolution, ordinance, or lawsuit, the All-Republican council must consider itself obligated to return these ill-gotten gains to the Hamilton taxpayer instead of allowing them to be used to pay for the mayor’s high-priced criminal defense team
One other thing that is clear from this salary grab episode is that the most recent “pinky swear” letter to council from the mayor saying that municipal government is running smoothly and efficiently as he battles serious criminal charges has to be considered just as suspect as his earlier letters regarding salary.
Finally, although the Hamilton Democrats are referencing Monopoly to make a point, this is not a game. It is actually more akin to the recent case in Cinnaminson, NJ where a man was arrested after keeping the excess money a bank clerk gave him when cashing a check. To not require return of these funds would be another example of the double standard of fairness and justice the republican administration arrogantly claims as their right.