December 9, 2013
Re: The League Opposition to S-2/A-1171
In anticipation of the Assembly possibly considering S-2/A-1171 during the lame duck session last week we notified the full Assembly of the League’s continue objection to S-2.
Initially our main objection to S-2/A-1171 was a fundamental issue. We oppose any proposal which would, on the one hand, allow the voters to express their will; but on the other hand, penalize them if their will does not comport with that of a majority of the appointed members of LUARCC. To us, this is a fundamental position, respecting our voters and the concept of self-determination
However, with the amendments to S-2, our objection has now expanded to the Civil Service changes. S-2/A-1171 initially removed or reduced many of the roadblocks that increase the costs of shared services – things like terminal leave, pay, civil service mandates, employee tenure requirements – many of the original provisions in bill could have reduced the costs and hurdles to shared services and consolidations, produce municipal savings and promote relief for our taxpayers. No longer would Civil Service have been an impediment to sharing services. However, the amendments to S-2 seem to discourage shared services from a municipality’s perspective by continuing the hindrances imposed by Civil Service. The League has three specific issues with the civil service component of the amended bill.
First, the amendments would require any non civil service municipality sharing services with a civil service municipality to be brought into the civil service system. As opposed to reforming the civil service system, these amendments would expand it.
Second, seniority provisions are protected at the expense of management prerogatives by making the two municipalities subject to civil service rules and collective bargaining agreements for determining which employees stay. Municipalities that are considering merging units want the flexibility to retain the best possible qualified and efficient work force or consolidation in any form doesn't make any sense. Municipalities need the flexibility to choose which employees will be retained and how to frame their workforce. The proposed amendment takes that management prerogative completely out of the municipalities’ hands and puts it entirely within the confines of the civil service system and collective bargaining agreements. The result will be a chilling process on shared services.
Third, the mediation and arbitration of contractual provisions of the bill will impede the sharing of services and may not result in cost savings. We do not foresee a smooth merging of two collective barging agreements. Therefore, mediation and arbitration will become the norm thus leading to delays and additional cost.
There is no overnight cure to our property tax crisis. Shared services, consolidation or other cost saving measures are long-term actions where benefits/savings may not be seen for a number of years down the road. The vast majority of Mayors are willing to consider options, but do not want to see their citizens punished, if they disagree with the decisions reached by LUARCC. We trust the judgment of the people who elect us.
The time has come for public servants at all levels of government and in all local units to put our heads together and work towards a serious approach that will benefit taxpayers in the long run.
We urge you to contact your Assembly representatives to express our objection and concerns with S-2/A-1171.
If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, at 609-695-3481 x112 or email@example.com.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.