A possibility of layoffs for four township officers will bring the Hillsborough Police Benevolent Association—and other local officers— to Tuesday night’s Township Committee meeting to oppose the proposal.
“The idea that we can cover 54 miles with 38,500 residents and a daytime population of nearly 100,000 people is crazy,” PBA President Ted Lewis said in a statement.
“Residents have been approaching officers and expressing disbelief at the proposal to layoff officers. Many residents say we live here because it is a safe community and the schools are good; I don’t want the to change.”
The committee presented the layoff possibility during its March 22 meeting, when it approved a resolution allowing it to issue the layoff notices. Notices would be issued on a reverse-seniority basis in the event that an agreement is not reached.
At the time, Public Safety Liaison Frank DelCore and Finance Liaison Carl Suraci noted that the resolution allowed the township to present a balanced budget.
Costs are expected to increase $713,000, with insurance and pension payments making a large portion of the costs, they said.
Last year, during a similar cost increase, PBA concessions included a reduction in overtime pay that had officers receiving compensatory time once the overtime budget was exhausted
The township and the PBA were in the early stages of negotiations when the resolution was approved. Negotiations were ongoing when the township introduced the budget in April.
“When we first learned of the potential for layoffs in March, we agreed to pay for a financial accountant to review the Township’s books,” Lewis said. “The accountant found the township had a $2.8 million projected surplus in 2011 and had exceeded revenue expectations for the past five years.”
“We surely hope that no one would sacrifice safety to prove a point,” he added. “Our last contract was settled with negotiations so to think this is all about getting even is troubling.”
The PBA says the layoffs could cause certain services, including D.A.R.E., community watch programs and senior assistance programs, to be cut. In addition, several bureaus might see staffing reductions that could compromise services, according to the PBA.
“The layoffs will also send a bad message to our residents and anyone thinking of doing crime—safety is not our township’s top priority,” Lewis said.