The article Point Pleasant mayoral race entails state wide concerns prompted a response directing attention to an article written by Erik Larsen titled Point Boro council president looks to ensure residents’ safety. Let’s parse this.
Police Chief Lawrence R. Williams appears to recommend that four new police officers be hired and that promotions be made to fill two positions- sergeant and lieutenant. Council President Susan Rogers points out the prohibitive costs of following the police chief’s recommendation and asks that the chief supply data to back his conclusions. Asking for data to support a conclusion is a responsible and rational approach to governing. Before analyzing the cost factor let’s look at some other claims.
Chief Williams is alleged to have made a claim based on manpower reduction namely, that police retirements will hinder the effectiveness of the police force. Easy to say. Asking for solid evidence, as Rogers has done, is reasonable. The previous force level might have exceeded what is needed to operate effectively. Perhaps not, but only someone with an inflexible agenda could object to efforts to document claims. Quoting from the article:
Williams said Thursday the actual cost would be $36,258 per new officer. The benefits that would raise the cost to $70,000 are already factored into the budget because the officers retiring have greater benefits than a new hire.
There is more to this than the present budget, Chief Williams. First, the expenses related to the retirees did not disappear. They will receive generous pensions for many years based on life expectancy. Pensions have to be funded and while it is true that pension funding is a separate issue from the budget, all government expenditures are a legitimate concern to New Jersey residents; most of whom want spending reigned in.
Point Pleasant is a case study on why expenses and taxes keep rising in this state. The actual costs for new officers do not remain at $36,258 for long. They quickly move toward the $70,000 figure. Within a few years high salaried replacements are in position while high cost pensions are paid out. The demographics are not favorable to cost containment.
Council President Rogers is right to be concerned with the cap matter. Municipalities are caught between caps and state funding cutbacks. Only a fool ignores the additional spending restraints they impose. Chief Williams has a smaller scope of responsibility than those governing the town. Let him make his case. But in doing so he should meet the level of proof requested by Rogers.