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Plumsted voters’ input sought on police spending

By Mark Rosman
Staff Writer

PLUMSTED – A non-binding municipal referendum will be on the ballot for Plumsted residents to consider when they step into the voting booth on Nov. 8.

The Township Committee has placed the following question on the ballot: “Shall the Township Committee … be authorized to increase its adjusted tax levy $343,217 more than the allowable adjusted tax levy, which is 17 percent more than the allowable adjusted tax levy as provided by state law, and shall it be authorized to increase to adopt the 2017 municipal purposes budget in excess of the increase limitation by 17 percent or $343,217 as provided by state law?”

Officials have said the additional funds will be used for police promotions; the hiring of two police officers; salaries and benefits to retain police officers; and a vehicle, weapons and equipment.

Mayor Jack Trotta previously said Police Chief Matthew Petrecca has asked the Township Committee to hire additional police officers and to promote some current officers to better serve residents.

Trotta said Petrecca and the PBA have advised municipal officials the police department has lost several officers due to the rate of pay in the current contract.

The mayor said the non-binding referendum on Nov. 8 will allow officials to judge voter sentiment to address the police issues.

He said if the question passes sufficiently in November, officials will hold a special election in April 2017 and the result of that election – as it relates to increased spending for police – will be binding.

Trotta said that as noted in the interpretive statement that accompanies the non-binding question, the increased costs relating to the number of police officers, police promotions, officer retention, and equipment the township would have to purchase with additional staff is $521,650.

The $343,217 noted in the non-binding question is the increase over and above the annual 2 percent increase in the local tax levy that officials are permitted to collect under state law, the mayor said.

“The average home in Plumsted is valued at $279,293, according to the latest numbers. The average homeowner would see an increase in their municipal taxes of about $211 a year to support this question,” he said.

Municipal officials said a “yes” vote on the public question will authorize the members of the governing body to adopt a budget that provides for an increase in the tax levy over the allowable cap.

A “no” vote will mean that in order to provide the additional money for the police department, the governing body will have to amend the budget through appropriation reductions or allowable non-property tax revenue increases in order to adopt the budget within the tax levy and appropriation increase limits set forth by law.

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