Long Beach Township Police Contract Locks In Long-Term Savings

Feb 08, 2017

Some long-term belt-tightening resulted in the recently settled contract between Long Beach Township and its police officers. The 2017-19 contract grants 1 percent salary increases for the first two years, and 1½ percent the third year. It also sets forth savings for the township in the long term by requiring years longer to reach the top salary level.

“The new salary guide froze the percentage increase for the first 12 steps for new officers and first five steps for current officers through the life of the contract,” Mayor Joseph Mancini said.

The new salary guide also lowers the starting pay for new police officers to $38,000 while in the academy.

Now, officers cannot reach top pay until 25 years, another provision says.

This all means the salary investment to the town for new officers – assuming they stay and serve 25 years – decreases by $226,000 each, Mancini said. “Multiply that by 36 officers, and we get a real good deal.

“I think we get a very good deal for the town,” the mayor said. “I think we’re finally catching up in getting what is due us back. We have a great police department, but they realize we had to slow down or their salaries are unsustainable.”

In 2016, the township paid $4.8 million for police services.

At the beginning of the meeting, three police officers were sworn in to promoted positions – Capt. Charles Schnell, Lt.  Edward Bernhard and Sgt. Ronald Hullings. Attending was a standing-room-only crowd of friends, family and fellow officers. The crowd then dispersed, and the rest of the meeting went on with only a handful of audience members.

Regarding the overall municipal budget for 2017, Joseph Lattanzi, commissioner of revenue and finance, said it appears there may be a “very small” increase in the tax levy. Budget preparations are still in progress.

“We may have a very small increase in local taxes,” he said, “but it should be minimal.”

In another matter, Lattanzi assured a questioning member of the public that the shuttle bus service will be available again this coming summer. He said the township recently received funding and will be looking for future grant money to help fund the much-used service.

“Right now there are no proposed changes in terms of the schedule. We’re looking at adding maybe another bus,” he said.

Commissioner Ralph Bayard said the township will apply for Community Development Block Grant funding to rehabilitate the 68th Street handicap observation ramp and deck. A public hearing had given the audience a chance to comment on that proposal, but no one commented. The township will apply for about $50,000, but typically gets $35,000 to $40,000 when such requests are approved, he said.

An ordinance was passed that defines the beach patrol as a category by itself in the township code books. Historically, the patrol was considered in the “public safety” realm. Now it will be included specifically as the Beach Patrol Department, in the code, officials said. The mayor is the director of the Beach Patrol Department.

Township officials said after the meeting that the ordinance does not change the way the beach patrol is operating.

Feral Cats

To Be Sterilized

Commissioners also established a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats. The purpose is to “effectively and humanely” control the feral cat population by having them spayed/neutered, vaccinated against rabies, identified by notching the left ear, then returned to the area where they were caught, says the ordinance approving the program.

The Friends of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter Inc. is the program sponsor, as it is in several other municipalities on the Island. The organization provides volunteer “caregivers” who go through all the approved steps, also registering feral cat colonies and keeping records.

The responsibilities of caregivers are further defined in the four-page ordinance. They include “ensure that the feral cat colony does not create any nuisance or endanger the public health, welfare and safety.”

Lot Coverage

Changes Made

Another ordinance, adopted on second reading, pertains to setback exceptions and lot coverage. Flagpoles are now exempted from setback requirements. “Flagpoles and decorative posts may encroach into the front, rear and side yard setbacks of the lot,” says an ordinance amendment.

Also, stairways and entrances will not be counted for impervious lot coverage calculations.

Driveways have new rules for pervious coverage. A new sentence says, “The 18-inch pervious area is not required for driveways with a minimum six-inch high curb line along the side of a driveway abutting a property line.”

— Maria Scandale

mariascandale@thesandpaper.net

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