Letter to Editor. Brigantine Mayor Guenther & Councilman Simpson

Letter to the Editor, from Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther & Councilman Andy Simpson:

If you have attended any of the City Council meetings over the past several months, you are well aware of the ongoing contentious debate surrounding the position of public safety director and the absence of chiefs leading our Police and Fire Departments and Beach Patrol. Out of this heated rhetoric, which has polarized Council along party lines, there is some consensus as each member of Council has articulated his or her support for chiefs to lead our public safety departments.

Moreover, an overwhelming majority of residents, taxpayers, and public safety professionals have expressed their opinions that chiefs are needed to ensure the effective and efficient operation of these departments as well as to maintain the quality of service that we all have come to expect in Brigantine.Therefore, it is time for Council to end this prolonged and divisive controversy at the next meeting on February 5th, and vote to eliminate the position of public safety director and direct the city manager to appoint chiefs.

Once this controversy is eliminated, we can seriously examine personnel costs and objectively consider all options to lessen the impact on the 2014 budget. Unfortunately, Council has been bogged down by the debate about the public safety director and part time firefighters and has not examined all options that could result in greater savings and not impact the successful operation of these crucial departments.

As we develop a plan to lower the personnel costs in all public safety departments, we should explore the following options available through collective bargaining and potential restructuring:
negotiating lower starting salaries; increasing the number of steps on salary guides to reach top salaries; analyzing overall staffing levels and rank structure; quantifying the impact of the difference in salaries for retirees verses new hires; and examining the impact of different schedules.

This list is certainly not exhaustive; other members of Council, the city manager, city employees and the public will undoubtedly have additional suggestions to find savings. As we move forward, it is imperative that we focus on examining accurate data for multiple options to find cost saving solutions that will increase efficiency and not sacrifice the quality of service.

We look forward to working with all stakeholders to accomplish this important work and move our city forward.

Sincerely,
Mayor Phil Guenther & Councilman Andy Simpson

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2 thoughts on “Letter to Editor. Brigantine Mayor Guenther & Councilman Simpson”

  1. Sorry Mr. Mayor but you appear to be taking a page from Nancy Pelosi’s playbook. My point being before doing anything we all need to understand what is in the deal. Once “chiefs” are appointed I understand that an act of god cannot undo it. Before structuring the top of the various public safety departments and for that matter all city departments we all need to know what will work best for Brigantine and the taxpayers. I trust that you agree what worked ten – twenty years ago would be a disaster in the future. The city payroll including retirement benefits needs to trim down to what can be sustained going forward. Top salaries would be a good place to start but there are a number of other areas where negotiations need to lead. Some of these are capping and than ending defined benefit plans and replacing as many as possible with defined contribution plans. Part time summer only workers without benefits that replace current full time positions are another area to look at.

  2. John W. Pucci Sr.

    This process of navigating a solution for the safety management of Brigantine has been sunk from the beginning. It was stated as an “Emergency” by the City Manager to temporally hire a Public Safety Director for two months until September, but yet two weeks after being hired, he went on vacation during a major public event (marathon) in Brigantine. (best candidate for job?) After seven months, with no decision in sight, we are still paying for the position. Have they worked together before?

    Do to the stumbling of the City Manager, Brigantine Taxpayers have been subsidizing thousands of dollars to Attorneys for a lawsuit against a Brigantine Police Capt / interim Chief of which the city lost, but also is currently spending more taxpayers dollars to appeal the judge’s decision. Is this only to scrape off the egg from somebody’s face?

    “What we have here is a failure (or incompetence) to communicate.” The residents of Brigantine have been stranded on a sandbar due to the lack of leadership with this issue. Too many times, items on the agenda have been delayed and postponed because the proper information was not forwarded to council to make a decision. But yet, one City Management employee (who we all learned last council meeting doesn’t have a contract) goes AWOL for a SMOKE BREAK during city council meetings, while the rest of us public, and elected officials, continue to sit in our seats trying to work toward a better Brigantine. Maybe that’s because we live here.

    The Pilot boat steering the tanker into the harbor keeps running the ship aground. Both the city council, Police, and Fire Depts have stated on the record at prior council meetings the need for adjustments to be made due to the current structural financial deficits of the city.

    Maybe it’s not the Chief’s or Public Safety Director’s position we should be taking a look at to dissolve!

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