Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Council approves Class II officers

This evening the City Council approved the addition of Class II officers to the City Police Department. The PD will now have the ability to hire full-fledged, certified, police officers for an hourly rate in the event of shortages or special assignments.  The officers will be paid between $15 and $20 per hour, will not be afforded benefits, and will be assigned a firearm only when on duty.

There seems to be great benefit to this program as the use of Class II officers on walking posts, the Municipal Court, Housing Department, and parks will allow the existing full-time officers more time to effectively police.  This effort will expand on this drive to improve quality of life concerns, there is no question that under Director Mordaga, certain troubled areas in our City have shown definite areas of improvement.

My only concerns however are the hiring processes and the possible union conflicts that may arise.  The hiring practices will be outside our normal civil service guidelines, therefore there arises the possibility of a lesser caliber, non-resident, being "worked into the system" (but then again, residence guidelines were never really followed too strictly in this City--it has already been established a number of officers including two of our three Captains never complied with residency requirements).  In terms of possible union conflict, I do foresee possible backlash from the potential loss of overtime.   The City will have a hard time justifying the authorization of over time duties when there is a near almost endless (25% of the department) supply of "cheap labor."  Likewise I am sure the school athletic programs will want to utilize the cheaper labor as multiple officers are common at football and basketball games and police presence for other sporting events and school functions is routine.  Lord knows the last thing we need is any further litigation or loss of morale in our police department.

Other notable items from this evening's meeting

The City Council approved the refund of $349,827.36 (for 2007-2010 tax years) to Regent Care of 50 Polifly Road.  On a building that is paying approximately $541,625 per year, we sure missed the mark on that assessment, but that seems to be a common occurrence in Hackensack, as Mucipal Accountant Steven Wielkoltz said of the 2013 budget, "Twenty-four percent [of the tax increase] is directly related to the loss in ratables from tax appeals."

Council Candidate Victor Sasson applauded the City for having a recycling station in their Green Street facility.  He however pointed out that though the residents have not widely adopted use of the facility, we are manning the facility six days a week.  Sasson remarked that whenever he has visited the facility he has observed a city employee inside reading the newspaper.  He suggested that due to the limited use the facility, it be opened either at conveniently scheduled times or by appointment. 

Resident Regina DiPasqua questioned the payment of $27,000 for an animal control contract with the county.  She recalled the amount being near $70,000 per year and noted that if this was a quarterly payment the rate has significantly increased, she would like an explanation.  Unfortunately, neither the City Manager nor the Council knew.  (UPDATE 4/24/13- LoIacono emailed resident Regina DiPasqua and stated that the payment was a semi-annual payment)

DiPasqua also wanted to know why legal fees were reimbursed to an exonerated officer this evening before the City has received a coverage determination from their carrier.  Now let me ask you the resident and taxpayer, if you had an accident with your car would you have the damage fixed before the adjuster came to look?

Though not an item of note for the purposes of our $90+ million budget, I did get a kick out of City Attorney Joe Zisa's parking job.  Given the high level of our legal fees, perhaps he can give some back in the form of a parking summons.  After the meeting concluded, I did not see a summons having been issued.  I wonder if I "Steve Citizen" would have been afforded the same courtesy.... 

City Attorney Joe Zisa seems to have a problem finding a parking space, despite more than a dozen being available at the time I arrived.

1 comment:

  1. I got an email today from City Manager stating that the payment of $27,000 represents 1/2 of the animal control contract for this year. Apparently the cost went down quite a bit.