Dear Mayor and Council,

With reference to the article published in the PatersonPress concerning the matter of excess leave hours accumulated by the acting Paterson Police Chief:

The matter of not enforcing contractual rules which, presumably were put in place to protect the public purse, needs to be corrected immediately. Regardless of the staffing situation concerning the layoffs from last year.   The city had to borrow over $2M to pay off retiring officers and firefighters.  The taxpayer cannot be expected to foot this bill when it comes due.  As things stand, we are now on the hook to pay another "acting" Police Chief six figures on top of his pension. How many more officers currently on the force do you expect to collect a similar sum when they retire? 

I suggest the following steps:

  • Immediate enforcement of all provisions of the contract with the Police Union. 
  • Hire the current acting Chief to the permanent post of Police Chief but stipulate in his contract that he must relinquish the excess leave hours accumulated prior.
  • Ensure that deputy Chiefs also sign a new employment agreement with the same stipulation.
  • Take steps to ensure that all other officers who's hours have exceeded those stated in the contract are reduced to the proper levels.
  • Direct the City Attorney to review the contract to see if  a) this matter constitutes a breach, b) whether the city is obliged to pay the excess hours, c)  if this does count as a breach, explore the feasibility of voiding the entire contract so a new one may be negotiated .

Public Safety and Finance Committees, please thoroughly review the contracts and current budget status. if you have not done so already you should instruct the Public Safety Director and Business Administrator to prepare and present to you monthly reports detailing leave hours accrued by each officer, (actual vs contractual) and overtime hours worked by each officer (actual vs budgeted).

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Mayor Jones,  whether you choose to micro-manage or not, you have a responsibility to protect every penny of revenue brought into City Hall.   You already have a huge budget gap for FY2013. Property taxes have increased 32% since January 2011. Instances like this need to be firmly addressed and corrected. Please be mindful the money spent here could have been used to hire another badly needed Police officer.

Kind regards,

Michael Symonds