Lawmaker to target Newark in proposed legislation forcing pension compliance

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 04, 2014

State Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth) plans to propose a bill that would halt state aid to municipalities who are not complying with the state's revised pension rules.

 

NEWARK — Taking a swipe at Newark, state Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) said today he plans to introduce legislation that would halt state aid to any municipality that is not in compliance with New Jersey's revised pension laws.

O'Scalon said he is proposing the legislation after reports surfaced that Newark had not been collecting payments that employees are legally required to pay toward their health care premiums.

Under the revised pension reforms Gov. Chris Christie signed in 2011, all public workers were required to contribute more toward its healthcare premiums, but state officials said earlier this year that Newark has not been compliant.

The city said in October that it took several months to update its payroll system in the wake of the law and that they did not know why the payments weren't collected last year.

"It was long overdue, but it has come to light that the City of Newark has been ignoring the law since it was put into place," O'Scalon said in a statement.

"The result is that the Mayor, Council members, and all employees in Newark pay less than the law requires – and worse, what common sense and fairness demand."

The legislation would also dock the pay of elected officials and top finance department heads in municipalities that are not compliant, according to O'Scalon.

The proposed legislation would also establish noncompliance as grounds for impeachment or removal of the mayor of city officials, O'Scalon said.

O'scalon's remarks arrive months after the state agreed to give Newark $10 million in transitional aid to address its budget crisis.

"Newark is a city that is facing tough issues and is legitimately going to need continued help from the state, but the local elected officials must lead by example," O'scalon said.

"The Council and staff salaries are unconscionable, especially when you also add in that each of their Council members is "entitled" to a city-owned SUV, with free gasoline provided from the municipal gas pumps.”

City officials did not respond to a request for comment, but Baraka has previously said the city is working towards becoming compliant.

"We gonna do what we supposed to do. We gonna get Newark workers into where they supposed to be over a period of time," he said during an interview.

"We are working with the state to make those things take place."

A spokesman for O'scalon said the legislation is expected to be introduced by the end of the year.

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