BRIGANTINE TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION called out Mayor Phil Guenther in the local papers this week. BTA president Anne Philips asks: Why is Brigantine City Council keeping taxpayers in the dark about public union contracts?
- A new police contract, to replace the one which expired on 12/31/16, is being negotiated. The two parties are the City of Brigantine, represented by the City manager, and the union (PBA). This is collective bargaining.
- These negotiators are permitted to make decisions that directly affect public priorities, budgets and property taxes without public knowledge and participation.
- Once these negotiations are completed, that agreement goes to City Council for discussion and vote – adoption or rejection, in open meeting.
- At the time of the vote, as it stands now, City Council will continue the exclusion of taxpayers from knowledge of the contract’s details until AFTER the vote. Taxpayers will be subject to the contract’s details for 4 years – its term.
- Council’s excuse for this exclusion is to claim the public would be part of the negotiations if it knew these details before the vote. Such a claim is false, an insult to taxpayers and a smokescreen.
- What is Council hiding and why?
- 65% of the 2016 budget is for salaries.
- The municipal tax rate has increased 62% from 2010 to 2016.
- There is no legal prohibition against disclosing the final form of the negotiated agreement (completed by the manager and the union) to the public for its knowledge and comment once it has been placed on Council’s agenda for discussion and vote.
SUNSHINE, NOT A SMOKESCREEN
Brigantine Taxpayers Association