Councilwoman Says Roselle Can’t Afford New Hires

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ROSELLE – Roselle taxpayers are being asked to pay three new police officers that they can’t afford and don’t need, according to Councilwoman Sylvia Turnage.

Last week, the Borough Council approved a measure to hire three police officers at a cost of $200,000, with Turnage casting the lone dissenting vote. The sudden move was made without a formal cost analysis and no money had been budgeted for the salaries, according to Turnage.

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Yves F. Aubourg, chair of the borough’s finance committee, told Turnage that he accepted full responsibility for hiring the officers, but she still questioned the move.

“While every other municipality in the state is trying to avoid laying off emergency services personnel, why are we hiring more police officers in Roselle when statistics show that our crime rate is going down?” Turnage asked.

According to a report presented to council members by borough police chief Gerard Orlando, the number of crimes reported in most major categories during the first half of the year decreased compared to the same time period in 2009. Robbery was down 24 percent, burglary was down 11 percent, larceny/theft was down two percent and motor vehicle theft was down 57 percent. There was a 12.5 percent increase in the number of assaults reported, and there was one homicide during the first six months of 2010, compared to none in the first half of 2009.

Turnage also had concerns about a pair of resolutions on the agenda for tonight’s council session. The council is set to vote on a measure to impose 12 unpaid furlough days in 2010-11 on the borough’s blue collar workers, which their union has agreed to accept to prevent layoffs.

Another measure on the agenda would authorize the hiring of 10 seasonal workers for the borough’s Department of Public Works.

“By drawing up a layoff plan and asking workers to take furloughs, it’s very clear that you can’t afford to hire anyone,” Turnage said.

The councilwoman suggested that Roselle could instead obtain temporary workers through the state-funded Work Pays program, which provides jobs to workers in the welfare pool.


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