To the Editor:
This letter is written in response to an article written by The Bernardsville News reporter P.C. Robinson and posted online headlined “Report: Disband Peapack-Gladstone police department”, published on April 28, 2016.
The Borough Council of Peapack & Gladstone, concerned with the cost of operations of our police department, commissioned Richard Lynch to do a staffing analysis and utilization of current manpower. The Council’s expectation of Mr. Lynch was to have him conduct a thorough examination of the department so that he could offer constructive advice that could improve efficiency and productivity.
Mr. Lynch has a vast background in police work having risen from Patrolman to Sergeant to Chief of the department in Belmar, New Jersey. After retiring from police work, he became the Administrator of Belmar. The important point here is that he has sat on both sides of the table with regard to police activities.
As outlined in his report, he sat with and interviewed our Chief, PBA President, Patrol Officers, and consulted legal counsel prior to writing and submitting his results. He also consulted with and sought information from the FBI, the NJ State Chiefs of Police Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. This was by no means a superficial effort.
Please remember that the focus of the study was Utilization of Current Manpower which is the bulk of the report. Almost parenthetically, at the end of his report Mr. Lynch writes that he would be remiss if he did not discuss “Contracting Police Services to another community”. By no means was this the charge given to Mr. Lynch by the government of Peapack & Gladstone, but shared services is a front-burner issue everywhere in the State of New Jersey.
Shame on Ms. Robinson for taking that part of the report and making it the inflammatory headline!
New Jersey has 565 governments and a myriad of other governmental bodies such as school districts and sewer and fire districts, to name a few. The redundancy in government is staggering and serves to make our State one of the most expensive places to live and to do business in the nation. The Christie administration worked with the Legislature to impose a 2% cap on municipal expenditures which has been in place for a few years now. The effects are now being felt by municipalities as we try to contain costs, control taxes, and provide necessary services, much less provide the extras that we would all enjoy.
Speaking directly to the Bernardsville News, I draw attention to your edition of April 28, 2016 wherein you display 7 pages of notices of impending Sheriff’s sale due largely to mortgage foreclosures. Further, on page 7 of the News section, you print a very insightful article titled “Dealing with the cost of government workers” written by Tim Smith, a former Mayor of Roxbury Township in Morris County. While I may not agree with everything he writes, the important message is that times aren’t what they used to be. “Disruptors” is a new word being used in economic terms. We, as citizens, taxpayers, and residents need to understand that there are disruptors at work concerning municipal budgeting and we need to deal with the realities of 2016 and what may come in the future. The status quo, while romantic, may not be appropriate as we move forward.
The government of Peapack & Gladstone is working to contain costs wherever possible. The Council approached our 2016 budget process with the goal of minimal change to the cost of running our municipality, if not a zero change. Much to our disappointment, we learned that we faced a very large challenge. In some instances, decisions made decades ago are having significant effects today.
I encourage everyone to carefully read the Staffing Analysis and Utilization of Current Manpower Study by visiting our Borough’s website at www.peapackgladstone.org and selecting the “latest news” item or visiting the “Mayor and Council blog” link in the right-most column.
Please draw your own conclusions and please attend public meetings.
William C. Muller
Mayor, Borough of Peapack & Gladstone