Page 4 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • May 13, 2009 Franklin Lakes Borough adopts temporary layoff ordinance by Frank J. McMahon Amid continued expressions of concern from employees, the Franklin Lakes Borough Council has adopted an ordinance that will authorize the borough to implement a schedule of temporary layoffs of borough employees throughout the rest of this year, and possibly into next year. The council decided to use temporary layoffs to reduce the municipal budget, which was $1.5 million over the state cap on the tax levy. Last month, the council proposed staggered layoffs of certain employees throughout the balance of the year, with the administrator, the finance office, the municipal court employees, and the uniformed members of the police department exempted from the layoff plan, which officials estimated would save the borough about $100,000 this year. However, after many employees told the council they did not think the layoff plan was fair because not all borough employees would be impacted, the council extended the layoff, which would cause all employees, except police officers, to be off two Fridays a month without pay. After a closed session meeting following last month’s public meeting, the council introduced this ordinance by a unanimous vote. Last week, however, after about a dozen employees again attended the council’s public meeting to complain that the layoff plan was not fair, the council adopted the ordinance 5-1, with Councilman Brian Trava casting the lone vote against its adoption. “I am not in favor of temporary layoffs,” Trava said. “They affect many employees over a range of salaries and have a detrimental effect on morale. I support pointed layoffs, which are also difficult, but manageable.” During the public hearing on the ordinance last week, John Keene, an employee of the public works department and president of the Franklin Lakes Borough Employees Association, which represents many borough employees other than the police, voiced his disappointment that the council decided to move forward with this ordinance about an hour after hearing their concerns and recommendations, which he thought were going to be given some consideration. “Adding six members to the temporary layoff list is not what we meant by fair,” Keene said. “Fair is every borough employee, not just the chosen few.” Keene claimed that a forensic accountant hired by the Policemen’s Benevolent Association had found some money in the borough’s books and that he had stated there was no need for the temporary layoffs. “We have been told to get over it and to move on,” he continued. Keene explained that he was told the layoff plan was not negotiable for employees. He questioned why that was not true for the police department. Then he said his organization is consulting with an attorney and is considering litigation over the temporary layoff plan. Councilman Steve Marcus explained that the borough is currently involved in difficult contract negotiations with the PBA, but he questioned Keene’s claim that a PBA accountant had found some extra money. Marcus called that information hearsay. Joseph Gallup, a maintenance employee with the department of public works, said that after the employees complained about the plan last month they went home with the hope that the council had listened to the hardships they would suffer if the layoff plan were implemented. He complained that some elected officials had voiced opposition to the plan publicly, but voted in favor of it behind closed doors. He described the layoff plan as reactionary. “Didn’t anyone anticipate this would happen? This is something that should have been foreseen. Telling us to get over it is not an answer to our concerns,” Gallup said. Mayor Maura DeNicola emphasized to Gallup that there are no council votes behind closed doors. She said she was certain that no one at the council table has told employees to get over it. She explained, however, that the borough is in a very difficult tough situation. “There is no intentional effort to make anyone’s life more difficult here,” she asserted. Another employee pointed out, however, how her building and construction department was being affected by the current cutback in work hours. Beverly Bentley, the technical assistant to the borough’s construction official, described the situation in her department as horrible, with homeowners and contractors upset with her because they cannot get their projects inspected and completed. “I’m in the trenches dealing with all these angry people,” she emphasized. “It’s not good for the employees or for the borough residents.” Councilwoman Paulette Ramsey explained that the alternative to the temporary layoffs would have been to terminate some employees, but the council chose not to take that action. Ramsey pointed out, “There are people out there who are losing everything.” Keene replied, “There are some here who are not losing anything, and that’s not fair.” ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� ����� ����� ���� ������ ��� ������������ ����� ������ ��� ��������� ��� ��� ����� ���������� ���� ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������� ��� �������� �������� ��� ������� ����� ��� ���������� ���� � � ���� �������� ����������� ����� ��� ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� � ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������ ������������������������������������������������������ ������������������������������������� ������������������������������������ ���� All sponsorship is 100% tax deductible. 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