On Wednesday, New Jersey state Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan introduced a bill that would exclude police and fire department salaries and benefits from the new law that caps annual property tax increases at 2%. That brought a swift, negative response from Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., who branded the proposed legislation as unfair to counties and municipalities that are trying to keep down the cost of government.
“The Governor and Legislature are trying to enact laws to help counties and municipalities control the cost of government,” DiVincenzo said. “Having public employees pay 1.5% of their health care costs, capping tax collection increases at 2 percent and reducing the amount of vacation time public employees can accrue are long overdue reforms that benefit our taxpayers by controlling the cost of government. Placing public safety employee salaries outside the cap – which includes any raises they receive as well as the escalating cost of medical benefits – will create an additional burden on local budgets and taxpayers. It will perpetuate the arbitrated high salary increases and bloated benefits packages that are part of the reason for our current budget problems.”
The Star Ledger recently reported that New Jersey police salaries are the highest in the U.S., with the average police officer earning 80% more than the average resident.