New Jersey's 39th Legislative District

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Cardinale: Introduces Trio of Taxpayer-Protection & Good Govt Reforms in Response to Paterson Abuses

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In the aftermath of recently reported taxpayer abuses in Paterson, Senate Republican Gerald Cardinale introduced a trio of new taxpayer-protection and good government bills to accompany his bipartisan reform to end six-figure sick-leave payouts for public employees.

Sen. Gerry Cardinale introduced a trio of new taxpayer-protection and good government bills to accompany his efforts to end six-figure sick-leave payouts for public employees. (SenateNJ.com)

Paterson — in the midst of municipal and school budget crises — just gave its police chief a big annual salary raise to $210,631, redoing his contract with just a few weeks left, when he must retire within a year. This deal gives a package of retroactive raises, including a 12-percent pay increase dating to 2012 and four 2-percent hikes. It pads his pension and $150,000 payout for unused sick and vacation days.

“Local governments, especially those in such financial chaos should not be abusing taxpayer dollars to benefit a select few,” said Cardinale (R-Bergen). “Paterson’s backroom decision is a maltreatment of local taxpayers, as well as state taxpayers who annual send about $25 million in aid to this cash-strapped city. I hope the state Department of Community Affairs will ultimately reject this particular chief’s new contract, but the time for reform is now to preserve the public trust in every town and city.”

Senator Cardinale’s first bill, S-1702, would prevent last-minute contract revisions to increase public employee salaries, pad pensions and hike boat checks. Specifically, it would prohibit state agencies, state government, state authorities and commissions, public institutions of higher education and local governments from giving retroactive salary increases greater than five percent of salary. It would prohibit an agency from granting any retroactive salary increase to any employee if the employer is aware that the employee will leave service within one year.  It also provides that any employee who leaves employment within one year of receiving a retroactive salary increase must repay the increase and the increased salary will not be used to calculate any benefit the employee may be entitled to upon termination.

Meanwhile, Paterson is also seeking a $1.63 million loan to settle tax appeals. This is the 5th time in 6 years that the city ― which this month sent layoff notices to its health department as a councilman took fire for owing $38,000 in back taxes ― is looking to borrow money to cover the cost of tax refunds. Paterson also has a police director who recently took a second public position as police chief in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

“It’s almost hard to believe this is even possible. Who in the real world gets these kinds of deals given out by New Jersey local governments? Again, the time for reform is now.”

Senator Cardinale’s second bill in the package would ban full-time New Jersey municipal employees from simultaneously working another public job, except for military service and volunteer fire, EMS or rescue service positions. The Senator’s third bill would prohibit New Jersey legislators from working any other public jobs.

With this new trio of bills, Senator Cardinale renewed his call for the state legislature to eliminate local government sick-leave payouts, which carry a nearly $1 billion property tax liability across the state, by passing his and Senate Democrat Brian Stack’s S-849 to eliminate sick-leave payouts and cap the carry forward of unused vacation time.

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