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Police in NJ ready to fight rumored merger of state, municipal pensions in court

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

WHAT NOW: New Jersey police union members are considering a legal challenge to rumored attempts to “save” the state’s cash-strapped pension fund by merging it with the healthy municipal pension fund, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

Such a move would jack up already steep local property taxes of force cuts in service, opponents warn.

“This is a disaster and will set back all PFRS members contributions and local employer contributions to ‘bail out’ the State once again for not making their mandated contributions into the Pension System,” retired Englewood Cliffs Police Lt. Tod J. Coletta said.

The alleged behind-the-scenes talks about merging the Public Employees’ Retirement System and Police and Firemen’s Retirement System were brought to light by William Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

The league is prepared to fight the move if it’s recommended by a special commission convened by Gov. Christie to fix the pension system, Dressel said.

This would end up uniting frequent adversaries — the league and police and firefighters unions.

“We have heard from various sources that this is a very real possibility,” Dressel told NJ Advance Media. “And before the report is actually printed and distributed, we feel we have an obligation to at least go on record that make the public and the folks under the gold dome on West State Street [in Trenton] know that this isn’t an option.”

Local government funding for the police and firefighters systems is currently at nearly 74%, but state funding for the state public employees is 46% percent — and could go bust within a decade, Coletta said.

“Again those who acted responsibly get penalized by footing the bill,” he said.

Police and firefighters in New Jersey contribute 10% of their wages, more than all other public workers in the state.

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