All officers’ jobs appear to be saved

Staff Writer

JACKSON — Under a municipal budget that was expected to be approved at the July 5 meeting of the Jackson Township Council, no police officers are expected to be laid off in town this year.

When municipal officials began developing a budget for 2011 several months ago, as many as 23 police positions were said to be on the chopping block.

As recently as two weeks ago, 12 police officers were said to still be in danger of losing their jobs. By June 28, that number had dropped to zero.

Council members voted 4-0, with Councilman Mike Kafton abstaining, to approve a resolution that authorizes the execution of a memorandum of understanding between the township and the Jackson PBA 168 and Jackson Superior Officers Association Local 168-A.

The memorandum stated that in order to avoid the necessity of any layoffs, the township, the PBA and SOA have agreed on the substantive terms of employment for the term beginning with the first paycheck in July and continuing until the last paycheck in December.

Business Administrator Joey Torres noted that this is an agreement and not a contract. He said it is expected that there will be collective bargaining sessions before the end of this year and a new contract with the police will be forthcoming.

On June 28, the council introduced a third set of amendments as it sought to put a municipal budget in place for 2011. The latest amendments increased the total general appropriations from $38.57 million to $38.72 million.

The total amount to be raised by local taxes to support Jackson’s municipal budget this year will be $27.84 million, which is an increase of $96,344 compared to the total previously contained in the second set of amendments.

The municipal budget was expected to have been voted on during the council’s July 5 meeting. That meeting took place after the deadline for this edition of the Tri- Town News.

Chief Financial Officer Sharon Pinkava said Jackson’s 2011 municipal tax rate will be 41.27 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That is an increase of 3.42 cents from the 2010 municipal tax rate of 37.85 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

With that new tax rate in place, the owner of a home that is assessed at $200,000 will see his municipal taxes increase from $757 to $825.

The owner of a home that is assessed at the township average of $333,000 will see his municipal taxes increase from $1,260 to $1,374.

The owner of a home that is assessed at $500,000 will see his municipal taxes increase from $1,892 to $2,063.

Municipal taxes are one part of a property owner’s total tax bill. The tax bill also includes school, county and fire district taxes.

In related news, Mayor Mike Reina announced that effective July 8, all municipal offices will return to their normal scheduled operating hours which are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Municipal offices have been closed on Fridays as employees have been taking unpaid furloughs.

At the council meeting on June 28, the council approved amendment No. 3 to the 2011 budget. That amendment was expected to be adopted at the July 5 meeting and will officially end the weekly unpaid furloughs for employees.

Reina said, “With cooperation from the collective bargaining units, agreements have been reached which will afford the township the ability to save jobs and eliminate the furloughs. With the furloughs behind us, we will be returning to the five-day work week, therefore allowing us to better service our residents.

“The furloughs were regrettably a difficult but necessary decision that was caused by increasing costs to the township and a loss of revenues. Unfortunately, challenges such as those mentioned will still be with us until relief comes our way. But just as we have done in the past, we will continue to evaluate the ever-changing economic landscape and look for all possible cost savings,” Reina said.