Governor Chris Christie and a bipartisan group of 234 mayors from around the state, including mayors from Millburn, Caldwell, North Caldwell and West Orange, are out to end payouts for accumulated sick and vacation time for public employees.
Eleven of those mayors joined Christie today at a press conference in Teaneck today where they called for the state legislature to pass sick and vacation pay reform. Currently, public workers can accumulate sick days and vacation days and collect payment for them when they retire.
Today, the governor said, liabilities facing taxpayers across the state for unused sick and vacation day benefits total more than $825 million.
“Every tax dollar that’s used to cash out unused sick and vacation days is a dollar that should be going to limit a tax increase and be sent right back to the taxpayer,” Christie said. "The only way to deal with property taxes is to lessen the amount we spend.”
The legislature passed a bill that would cap future payouts at $15,000 but the governor vetoed it; his goal is to eliminate the retirement payouts completely.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who sat in on the Governor's press conference, said Democrats have made attempts to work with Christie.
“As with most things the governor brings up, reality is often a little more complex than his rhetoric,” Weinberg said in a statement. “We need to ensure that in our rush to reform the system, we do not push long-time workers to the exit. If we do, local governments will be faced with having to pay all of those retiring workers now, inadvertently putting themselves in an even more tenuous fiscal position."
So how much are public employees accruing town to town?
Earlier today, the NJ Department of Community Affairs made available a spreadsheet revealing what municipalities owe workers in accrued sick and vacation time.
If paid out, Millburn would owe a little less than $1.49 million, according to the spreadsheet, compared to Newark's $48 million and West Orange's $10 million.
The spreadsheet breaks down that cost per average household for accumulated absence, but the spreadsheet does not break that number down separately for sick and vacation time.
In some towns, the accrued time is really adding up. Take Alpine Borough in Bergen County, for example, where the average household cost is $1,169 for accrued sick and vacation time for municipal employees.
By comparison, in Millburn, the average cost per household is $196. Nearby in Maplewood, the cost per household is just $41 but in South Orange it’s $445.
Other Essex County towns range from the lowest being Fairfield at a little more than $11 and Verona with $19 per household to the highest being Newark with $771, East Orange with $661 and West Orange with $623. Many fell somewhere in between some of those being Bloomfield at $372, Livingston at $364, Caldwell at $390, West Caldwell at $264, Montclair at $218, North Caldwell at $217, Cedar Grove at $203 and Belleville at $171 per household.
Millburn-Short Hills Editor Laura Griffin and Teaneck Editor Noah Cohen in Teaneck contributed to this report.