People would have laughed in 1960 if one had predicted bankruptcy for the City of Detroit in 2013. Would comparable ridicule emerge today with a similar prediction for Summit?
The employee salary structure of Summit provides reason for concern. Six-figure salaries, for example, are the norm for members of the Summit Police Department. As a resident of Summit, I want police to be paid well. But here even rookie cops earn comparably to Deputy Attorney's General - with competitive resumes and ten years' experience - who work for the State of New Jersey and who, by the way, have not had a salary or cost-of-living increase since September 2007.
I am not citing that example to complain about police. My purpose, rather, is to argue that, between the City and the State, the State is the preferable cost model. Summit Common Council may wish to consider flattening the line for a period of time until salary levels become sustainable to taxpayers. Police and fire pensions are especially generous and costly in addition to salaries.
Indeed Summit has to compete with other municipalities for the pool of police candidates. But Summit provides an attractive environment and could probably draw qualified candidates and still hold the line. Mayor Elmer J. Bennett came under fire in the 1960's for holding down police salaries, but he was successful. It is time to repeat that performance and review municipal salaries.
James M. Bennett