New Jersey's 39th Legislative District

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Cardinale: Taxpayer Abuse in Paterson Proves Need for New Reforms

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Senate Republican Gerald Cardinale is renewing his call for sick-leave, pension and public employment reforms in light of recent reported taxpayer abuses in Paterson.

Sen. Gerry Cardinale is renewing his call for sick-leave, pension and public employment reforms in light of recent reported taxpayer abuses in Paterson. (Flickr)

Paterson’s governing body just gave its police chief a big salary raise to $210,631, redoing his contract that expires in a couple weeks. This allows him to collect a bigger pension, a bigger, $150,000 payout for unused sick and vacation days. The governing body also gave the chief, who must retire within a year, a 12 percent pay increase dating to 2012 and a series of four 2 percent hikes after that.

“This pension- and boat-check padding maneuver is an abhorrent abuse of taxpayers in Paterson, as well as state taxpayers, who annually send about $25 million in aid to this cash-strapped city,” Cardinale said. “This is the kind of billion-dollar deal struck in a smoke-filled backroom in the dark of night that destroys the public trust.”

Paterson is 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.

“Clearly, a city in such financial chaos should not be abusing taxpayer dollars to the benefit of a select few at the top,” Cardinale said. “With his public employment clock about to expire, Paterson’s chief was given a salary raise, an on-the-job boat check and the prospects of a maximum payout for unused days and a greater pension,” Cardinale said. “Meanwhile, they pay $92,000 per year to a police director who is moonlighting as a police chief in another state. It’s hard to believe this is even possible. Who in the real world gets these kinds of deals given out by New Jersey local governments? The time for reform is now.”

Senator Cardinale renewed his call for the state legislature to eliminate local government sick-leave payouts. Senator Cardinale, along with Democrat Senator Brian Stack sponsors Senate Bill 849 to eliminate sick-leave payouts and cap the carry forward of unused vacation time.

Senator Cardinale is also looking at introducing legislation to prevent last-minute pension padding and introducing legislation to ban full-time public safety administrators in New Jersey from working full-time jobs in other states.

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