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October 8, 2013                            Legislative Alert

Re:      S-2/A-1171, Shared Services Amendments Weaken Management Reforms

Dear Mayor:

The League opposes S-2/A-1171, which would increase the power of the State’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) and allows that body to advance a shared services proposal.  If the municipal governing body or local voters reject that proposal, the bill would allow the State to reduce a municipality’s Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Aid (CMPTRA) funding.  The cut would equal the amount of projected savings that would have been produced by the proposal, as certified by the State.

S-2 passed the State Senate last December and is referenced to the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.    We anticipate the sponsors to make one final push for this bill during the post-election “lame duck” session.

We strongly object to the idea that voters should be threatened with a reduction in property tax relief funding, if they fail to ratify a proposal advanced by a majority of the appointed members of a State study commission.

As noted in our earlier correspondence, prior to the November amendments, S-2 removed or reduced many of the roadblocks that increase the costs of shared services. The bill addressed things like terminal leave pay, civil service mandates and employee tenure.  The amendments, however, weaken the management reforms that would have reduced taxpayer costs and increased service efficiency.

The November amendments include:

  • The loss of suspension of layoffs, transfer, seniority, testing and bumping.  S-2 will allow the relaxation of Civil Service rules for selection and appointment to permit employees of non-civil service municipality prior to the shared service agreement to become civil service employees for the purpose of creating a uniform pool from which the new shared service provider may choose to hire employees.  As a result of this amendment, municipalities have loss the flexibility to retain the best qualified and most efficient work force. This change will have unions determining issues that are typically management prerogative issues.
  • Requires that conflicts in the operation of collective bargaining agreement shall be settled by mediation, or, if that is unsuccessful by binding arbitration.  Any contractual disputes (interest matters) for non-public safety units are currently subject to mediation, fact finding and sometimes super-conciliation.  If this does not work, imposition of the last offer of management is the order of the day.  This amendment suggests this paradigm should be changed and mediation goes to binding interest arbitration
  • Requires that municipalities must follow not only Civil Service rules and regulations but collective bargaining agreements when addressing employment issues, such as layoffs, seniority and bumping.  The original version of S-2 exempted those provisions that municipalities identified as adverse to the goal of improving the provision of local and regional services, such as layoff, transfer, seniority, testing, bumping rights and tenures.  The amendments removed the exemption.  As a result municipalities will now have to follow not only Civil Service rules but collective bargaining agreements making the process much more cumbersome and complex.
  • Created the requirement for a Stratified Lay Off Plan, which creates employee bands of executive, managerial or non-managerial.  For PERC purposes Executives and Management cannot be represented so the amendments should not give the impression that they are represented.  In addition, typically Directors and Executives are considered unclassified in Civil Service and not afforded the same protections.
  • Requires that a Non Civil Service municipality become subject to Civil Service if the Lead Agency is Civil Service municipality.  At the expiration of a shared services agreement those employees in the shared service agreement will retain their Civil Service status.  This will discourage non-civil service municipalities from entering into agreements with Civil Service municipalities providing the service because a non-civil service municipality will have a civil service department.

 

The bill now awaits consideration by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.  Please contact your Assembly Representatives and urge them to oppose S-2 and A-1171. 

If you have any questions on this, contact Lori Buckelew at 609-695-3481, ext. 112 or lbuckelew@njslom.org.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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