As reported by nj.com, officials had considered disbanding or reducing the size of the full-time, Franklin Township Police Department in favor of contracting police service from a neighboring municipality, one of a string of changes being considered to help control taxes. “We’ve reached an agreement to keep our police department for this budget year,” Mayor Scott Bauman said at Franklin Township’s Committee meeting. But, he cautioned that concessions from the police guarantee the department’s survival “for this budget year only.”
The change threw a wrench into the township’s proposed $2.6 million 2011 budget, which officials had originally expected to approve. Because it will have to be substantially modified, it will be re-introduced at another public meeting that has been scheduled for May 12. Township Auditor William Colantano said it will have two or three pages of “major amendments.”
Officials were mum about what the budget changes will be, where money for additional spending will come from or whether the revised spending plan will include a property tax increase. Committeeman Robert McGeary said that the new agreement with police is not complete. “Paperwork and details will follow,” he said, but “an understanding is in place.” Patrolman Craig Santoro, who is representing the police union in its negotiations with officials, said the extent of union concessions “are not yet known.”
“The public has a right to know where the money is coming from,” said Charlie Mathews, a former Township Committeeman. George Burdick, another former committeeman, told officials, “formulating your budget is a very public process…you’re now withdrawing from that process.”
Committeewoman Susan Campbell said money and savings to retain police will come from a combination of places. Other potential cost-savings measures being considered by the Township Committee include a plan to phase in a requirement that employees pay an increasing share of their health care costs, and reducing the open space tax. Last night, the committee voted to increase fees for construction applications and inspections.