Future layoffs possible under Jersey City consolidation plan

JERSEY CITY – Plans to consolidate various Jersey City departments could include layoffs as “all options” are on the table to save money and avoid a municipal tax increase in 2014, according to Mayor Steven Fulop.
The Fulop administration announced plans to consolidate and merge several city departments which the city estimates will save approximately $343,112.
As has already been announced, the city will merge the Jersey City Fire Department and the Jersey City Police Department into a newly created Office of Public Safety. The city’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will also become part of the Office of Public Safety.
On Wednesday the City Council will vote to appoint James Shea, a former deputy chief with the New York Police Department, as the new director of public safety.
On Wednesday, the administration will also ask the council to consider an amendment to combine the Division of Architecture and the Division of Engineering, Traffic, and Transportation into a single office within the Department of Public Works (DPW). The administration said this will eliminate duplicative efforts within the current divisions, conserve resources within DPW, streamline services, and make services more efficient for constituents.
Another amendment to be considered by the council Wednesday will create the Division of Sanitation within the DPW to do demolition, street sweeping, snow and ice removal, solid waste collection and recycling, and graffiti removal work.
Many of these functions are currently performed by the Jersey City Incinerator Authority (JCIA) and this proposal appears to be an attempt to merge JCIA operations into the DPW, as Fulop has proposed for years. Calls by Fulop to merge the DPW and JCIA when he was a city councilman led to protests among low-level, low-wage JCIA employees who feared the loss of financial stability if the merger plan became a reality.
The Division of Cultural Affairs, the Division of Senior Affairs, and the Division of Veterans Affairs will all be moved into the revamped Mayor’s Action Bureau, which the Fulop administration has expanded and renamed the Resident Response Center.
The Office of Pensions and the Office of Payroll will be consolidated under one division. Redundant services and jobs within these two departments will be eliminated.
When asked Tuesday whether the consolidation plan includes layoffs or saving realized due to attrition, Fulop told the Reporter, “We are exploring all options, as we have started our desk audit. Our goal is to stabilize a structural deficit that we inherited from the previous administration.”
The mayor added that the administrations consolidation plans will be discussed with members of the City Council.
“Not only are these changes essential from a fiscal standpoint, but also from an operational standpoint,” Fulop said in a release. “We are cutting costs, streamlining services and creating synergy between previously separate departments.” – E. Assata Wright

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