NEWARK, NJ - Essex County officials have announced that they are pushing for Governor Murphy to enact a salary cap for police and firefighters. This initiative is touted as a means to control the rise in property taxes.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. sent a letter on Monday to Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin to re-enact the 2 percent cap on annual salary increases for police officers and firefighters, that are awarded through arbitration.

According to a release, the salary cap was first adopted in 2011 and renewed in 2014 before it was allowed to sunset on December 31, 2017.

Sign Up for E-News

"We all agree that counties and municipalities need additional resources to control expenses and stem the rise of property taxes, and over the last several months there has been great debate and competing ideas on how this should be done. Debate is healthy, but the 2 percent salary cap on police and fire employees has proven to be effective and should be re-established," DiVincenzo said.

In the letter, DiVincenzo wrote that having an uncapped increase, will affect tax increases. With his proposal, a 2 percent salary cap on public safety raises and a 2 percent cap on tax increases (which is still in effect), then he is anticipating that Essex County will be able to limit its annual tax increase. Over the last eight years, there has been a 1.65 percent increase in Essex County.

"Without the 2 percent salary cap, local governments could, once again, find themselves on the losing end of arbitration proceedings which historically have awarded higher percentage raises - clearly placing the best interests of public employee unions over the taxpayers," DiVincenzo added.

"If public employee salaries were to once again rise uncontrollably, local governments would be forced to make difficult decisions to stay within the 2 percent cap for tax increasing - having to choose between laying off employees or cutting services to balance budgets," he concluded.