Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh announced that more than 100 city police officers and 89 firefighters will no longer face layoffs. The two departments were able to find cost savings to cover a $4 million public safety budget shortfall, part of an overall budget gap of up to $12 million by some estimates.
“The fire department found $1.8 million, that’s pretty significant. Police department found close to a million dollars, other departments, it all added up. They scrubbed their respected budgets and they found significant cost savings,” Sayegh said. “I’ve been talking about a shared sacrifice, so this was a total team effort as far as finding cuts is concerned.”
But the deal also means that residents may see some impact to services and operations in the city.
“I do want to caution that this may impede some of the services that we can render, particularly overtime. We are going to be very strict with overtime. With some of the measures we’ve taken, switching from being self-insured to a state health benefit plan, changing the way we bill for our sewer system, asking St. Joe’s Hospital for some income, merging police and fire to create a public safety department. We feel like we’re going to be on better financial footing in the future,” Sayegh said.
The city’s fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30. Sayegh says that while the city will likely avoid layoffs this year, but they’re still not out of the woods yet.