This is a statement released Thursday afternoon by the Real Progress Montclair slate headed by mayoral candidate Karen Turner.
Today's article on Baristanet, "Montclair Council Salaries: Worth the Frustration?" talks about the healthcare benefits that the township provides to employees. The piece highlights the cost of the benefits we provide to municipal workers—and is an excellent example of why Montclair must develop long-term financial planning practices.
Karen Turner, the Real Progress Montclair (RPM) mayoral candidate, had this to say, “In doing research for Concerned Citizens of Montclair (CCM), I learned that in December 2007, the township started offering lifetime post-retirement healthcare benefits to various township employees after completing 15 years of work, and upon attaining age 62. I don't begrudge township employees accepting generous benefits that are offered to them. What struck me was the question: how can Montclair afford to offer post-retirement healthcare benefits that were more generous than a U.S. soldier would get for serving on a combat field (I think they need at least 20 years of service)? Did the town leadership do its homework to understand if this was sustainable? Further research showed that Montclair also offers post-retirement healthcare benefits to some employees after 10 years and others after only five years of service.”
LeeAnn Carlson, running for a councilor-at-large position on the RPM slate added, “The town government needs to understand what kind of burden decisions have on Montclair now and into the future. Long-term planning is essential.”
RPM plans to establish a five-year financial plan if elected. RPM also will look to re-establish the long-range planning group that existed under former Mayor Clifford Lindholm. This committee would ideally be comprised of two to three members from each of the Capital Finance Committee, Operating Budget Advisory Committee, and the Board of School Estimate.
Turner also stated, “We, as a town, need to understand the impact of these and other like commitments before decisions are made.”
RPM has many ideas to help put Montclair on a better track for long-term sustainability. RPM's website, to be launched imminently, includes an achievable framework of ideas.