I recently came upon a Facebook post on one of the several community pages that stated the following:


Lawrence Township municipal manager Kevin Nerwinski.

While raising our taxes, the town manager went from a salary of about $140000 to $225,000. Why is the council making these moves. Did anyone else ever get a salary increase like that???????! No wonder the manager wants behind-closed-doors meetings instead of public discussions.

So, I thought, “ok, this may be the time where I peel away the onion of misinformation and celebrate a little more transparency with facts and context.” My salary was an issue at the last election, and it seems like it may be again in this year’s election. I responded to the post as follows (with some slight modifications included):

Not everything you find and read online is true or provides context or explanation. The agreement I negotiated and executed with the township is dated April 28, 2017, and is available to anyone who makes an OPRA request. I took over the position of municipal manager from my predecessor, Richard Krawzcun, who was earning approximately $227,000 annually (yes, six years ago). My initial salary was $164,000, not $140,000, as the post suggests.

The employment agreement provided for annual adjustments based on the cost of living increases received by other “unclassified and/or exempt” personnel working for our town. In addition, the agreement provided for performance appraisals conducted on a semi-annual basis for Dec. 2017, 2018 and 2019, and June 2018 and 2019 (a probationary period to allow the elected officials to evaluate my performance more regularly and make incremental salary adjustments to close the salary gap with my predecessor). These performance reviews were negotiated and built into the agreement, because the disparity between the initial salary of $164,000 and the salary of my predecessor was substantial. I would not have accepted this position otherwise.

The township hired me as the municipal manager and Qualified Purchasing Agent with a separate average statewide salary of about $45,000. In addition to the responsibilities of a municipal manager by statute in our form of government, I am the director of community development (previously a full-time township position), a member of the planning board, and director of public safety. Also, when the director of affordable housing (Andrew Link) retired (earning a salary and benefits that totaled more than $120K), I took on his responsibilities, because I knew affordable housing from when I worked with him as the municipal attorney. I did this for no additional compensation (and hired an outside firm to process applications for less than $12,000/yr., so we didn’t have to employ any support staff— saving the town about $115,000.

With these savings, we were able to add the community aide position to our operations— providing the township with a professional and designated information officer to better communicate with our residents and support new businesses. The governing body wanted to implement this for several years, and we seized the opportunity to do it at the right time.

In addition, for those that have stated publicly and incorrectly, I do NOT take health benefits from the township, which can cost more than $20,000 for families.

Moreover, because of my experience as the municipal attorney for the township, I frequently review and prepare documents that, under my predecessor, were done by the township attorney (charging an hourly rate). There are way too many instances to name where my prior municipal attorney experience has allowed our community to save thousands of dollars in legal fees because we do not have to engage and pay a private attorney to do the work or provide guidance on issues.

Finally, when my contract was renewed and extended in July 2020, the governing body included that I am to maintain a social media presence on various social media sites (which consists of a blog site) and to roll out a committed social media program and communications plan for the township.

So, if you judge me, please consider the facts and what I do for the community. Also, please do not compare me to business administrators in Ewing, Hamilton, Trenton, or any other community with a directly elected mayor. That would be comparing apples to oranges. They have fewer responsibilities than municipal managers. We are a Council-Manager form of government. Our elected officials are part-time. Our mayor has no authority or responsibility over municipal operations or even an office in our municipal building. A municipal manager is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations of the municipal government (and all that it entails, with 12 departments and more than 200 employees providing services to our community) AND is ultimately responsible for resident concerns.

Our elected officials appoint the municipal manager, set policy and are responsible for adopting a municipal budget and passing other essential ordinances and resolutions.

For directly elected Mayor towns, along with a full-time business administrator, the Mayor is a full-time position, earning a full-time salary (and benefits), with authority to hire and fire department heads, handles constituency concerns, and is involved more directly in preparing the municipal budget. And has one or more full-time assistants. That is not what we do here.

I hope this shines more light and clarifies how much I am paid, how my salary has increased over the past six years, and my overall responsibilities.

As for the comment that I want “behind closed doors meetings,” I can only say that it is not only false, it is simply incredible in light of all of the information I have made available to all of you in the past six years.

The effort I have made to explain our decisions or the process we follow is well documented, and the community is more informed now than ever before.

Kevin Nerwinski serves as Lawrence Township’s municipal manager. He is a long-time resident of Lawrence.

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