We haven’t heard from Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop since Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon challenged him to pressure Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to put the extension of the 2% limit on arbitration awards for police and firefighter salary contracts up for a vote. But Aberdeen Mayor Fred Tagliarini, a Democrat, called to say that he supports O’Scanlon’s effort.
“The 2% arbitration cap is a very powerful tool in stabilizing property taxes,” Tagliarini said in a phone interview with MMM. “I don’t know any mayor, Democrat or Republican, who wants it to expire. The cap should be extended before it expires in December.”
Tagliarini noted that in Aberdeen, the arbitration cap has not only stabilized property taxes over the past seven years since it was implemented, but that it has resulted in healthier negotiations with the local police union and enhanced public safety. “Thanks to our new contract with PBA Local 163, we’ll be able to hire five new officers in Aberdeen next year and bring our budget in within the cap,” the mayor said. “The union agreed to reduce the starting salaries for new officers and implement new steps,” he said. “The savings will allow us to expand the police force by five which will result in reduced crime and enhanced public safety.”
O’Scanlon, a Republican running to replace Senator Joe Kyrillos in the 13th legislative district, praised Tagliarini and the Aberdeen cops, “Congratulations to Aberdeen. Their new contract is an example of how the cap should work. Labor and management coming together and creating solutions that work for the community. Thanks to the creativity of Mayor Tagliarini’s team and the union negotiators, five young men or women will have new careers in law enforcement, public safety will be enhanced, the veteran officers and their families will continue to be fairly compensated and property taxpayers will not see their bills skyrocket. That’s how government should work,” the Assemblyman said.
“Anyone who opposes the arbitration cap doesn’t want government to work that way,” O’Scanlon continued. “Those people would rather a Trenton bureaucrat, an arbitrator, determine police and firefighters salaries. The arbitration cap does not limit police and firefighter salaries. It limits what Trenton bureaucrats can award in arbitration and gives both sides an incentive to negotiate in good faith.”
Tagliarini, who is seeking his third four year term as mayor of Aberdeen, said he would called Fulop, and other Democrat mayors, to encourage them to support O’Scanlon’s efforts to get the cap extended before it expires in December.
The arbitration cap is set to expire on December 31, the same day a Task Force report on the cap is legally due. O’Scanlon, a member of the Task Force, released the report’s findings last month, over the objections of the union representatives on the Task Force. The report concludes that the cap on salary increases for police and firefighters enables towns to maintain their budgets and mitigate property tax increases. In 2014, the legislature voted unanimously to extend the arbitration cap after a report by the same task force came to the same conclusion.