Point Pleasant Beach News
July 19, 2011
The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach met at 6:30PM with Mayor Barrella and Council Members Hennessy, Tooker (via teleconferencing), Corbally, Lurie and Dyer present. Councilman Rizzo was absent due to illness. The Municipal Clerk read the notice indicating compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.
Lt. Dikun: Governing Body requested that Police Department look at factors that have lead to disorderly summer – introduced multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems – pure enforcement approach would not be optimum – certain steps must be taken immediately, with other factors considered and actions implemented for long-term success – many suggestions are outside Police Department’s purview and deal with getting the business community, residents, Governing Body, Police and other departments on the same page to come up with a win-win plan – any Police action taken for the remainder of the summer will be short-term – will elaborate further in the report - here to respond to Governing Body’s questions – more versed in the procedural and operational aspects while Chief O’Hara is more well-versed in the financial aspects.
Mayor Barrella: thanked Lt. Dikun and Chief O’Hara for the report and asked them to hit the high spots, as the Governing Body just received it about an hour ago.
Lt. Dikun: dubbed “Operation Rice Krispies” (reference to cereal advertising characters, Snap, Crackle and Pop), in order to be effective long term, must be effective short term - what is done for the remainder of summer 2011 will have limited carryover for 2012 and beyond – what Police do must be taken in concert with other suggestions, or it’s nothing more than a short term fix - owe it to residents to come out with a long-term solution to bring Pt. Pleasant Beach back to a family community - SNAP is concerned with expanding the Strategic Neighborhood Action Plan, which was implemented in 2000, but has been limited for the last few years due to budgetary constraints – puts uniformed and plain clothes officers into residential areas when they are needed most - CRACKLE refers to the need to break up acts of disorderly conduct before they rise to an aggravated level – they have reached an extreme, but not irreversible, level – problems must be attacked in 2011, or Police will have an extremely difficult time making the reversal - POP deals with zero-tolerance enforcement philosophy, where all perpetrators and offenders are penalized – suggests redirecting traffic in District 4 during peak times, which will need engineering assistance – looks to re-engage plain clothes bike officers in residential areas – not doing this to generate income, but should bring order back to the community – due to limited funding, weekend patrols have been cut back over the last several years – would like a reimplementation – this year, the summer season will extend quite a bit – need to establish a presence in the Boardwalk and beachfronts area – there will be consequences either way – to do nothing for the remainder of 2011 would be disastrous for the community, from order and economic standpoints – asking for consideration for additional funding and suggestions.
Councilman Lurie: asked for a summarization of short-term expenses.
Chief O’Hara: item 3, on page 4, calls for plain-clothes bike patrols, staffed by regular officers, 4 nights/week for the remainder of summer – 4-hour patrols at peak hour of disorder – 2 officers together – based on average overtime rate, comes to $700/shift – 4 times/week for the remainder of the season comes to rounded figure of $20,000.
Lt. Dikun: any type of saturation patrol must target the hours of disorder – targeted hours will differ, depending on the night – Friday and Saturday violations are taking place later and Sunday and Monday violations are taking place earlier.
Chief O’Hara: page 5, calls for an estimated $75,000 from July 29th to September 5th – will take a week to formulate a schedule and get rolling, if appropriation is received – funding would be for additional patrols of uniformed regular officers at overtime rate – same estimate of $700/8-hour shift – use regular officers because of their experience – in an extreme crackdown of violations, it’s better to have an officer with many years of experience, so situations can be diffused, instead of escalating, as could happen with an inexperienced Special – also, there is no possibility of hiring additional Special Officers for this season, due to training and recruiting issues – on weekends now, close to 100% of Specials are scheduled – they’re at the maximum number of hours they can work – also need regular officers to help supervise.
Councilman Lurie: asked how many people and days the $75,000 covers.
Chief O’Hara: 8 shifts/week for the remaining 7 weeks of summer, with 2 officers on each shift – more or less, depending on the officer – short-term goal is to have a zero tolerance policy and issue citations to as many violators as possible – the more contact with people, the more incidents that could escalate into a custodial arrest – looking to send the message now, through the end of summer, so those who plan to return next summer will recollect that you can’t get away with much here – must be followed with a presence throughout the off-season, and in the spring, with a zero tolerance policy to eliminate people’s bad habits which have escalated in the last 3-4 years.
Councilman Lurie: asked what the 8 shifts/week would consist of (Chief O’Hara: not at the same time every week – will move them to problem areas – to keep people guessing as to when police will be cracking down – number of hours will be flexible, depending on circumstances) asked if most Friday and Saturday violations are during the nighttime or daytime (most are between 11PM and 3AM – Sunday is a much earlier crowd – starts getting really busy by 4PM – common factor with most disorderly conduct is alcohol or some other form of self-medication.
Lt. Dikun: have gone through dramatic changes during the last year – seasonal workforce had been typically limited to a day shift and a night shift – day officers typically worked 10AM – 6PM, evening officers either 6PM – 2AM or 7PM – 3AM – on Saturdays, most evening workforce comes in at 8PM, because offenses are perpetrated in late evening/ early morning – some days, the bulk of the night shift comes in at 3PM or 4PM, and Monday workforce comes in even earlier – been very successful, but last night, for example, there were 28 arrests – with additional personnel, chances are 48 arrests could have been made – not catching everything.
Councilman Lurie: asked how many arrests were made on Saturday (somewhere in the mid 20s or low 30s – Sunday was busier than Saturday this week – Friday was fairly light – it’s hard to gage the trends because they change weekly – some are consistent.
Mayor Barrella: asked about page 6 – if the recommendation for appropriation is to hire additional Specials (yes – $60,000 appropriation for 2011 for Police Special Law Enforcement Officer Candidates, who will start training in 2011 and graduate in May 2012 to work the 2012 season – costs about $1,200/candidate to process the psychiatric, physical, cardiac and drug testing along with academy costs – will need approximately 50 new Special Officers to have the manpower, next summer, to continue moving forward with this plan, keeping violations at a zero tolerance and enforced as much as possible.
Councilman Lurie: asked how many there are now (around 55), last year (about 65), and a couple of years ago (about 80-85).
Chief O’Hara: targeting 85 for 2012 – problem is, that many Specials from last 2 seasons have left for full-time employment elsewhere – it is anticipated that, if there are 60 today, will lose about 40-50% by next season - that’s why we’re looking for 50 more – last year, there were more bodies, but they worked less hours because of funding – this year is the opposite – lost more people and had trouble getting recruits last winter.
Lt. Dikun: Special Law Enforcement Officer II’s wear weapons and are, for the most part, in the same position as regular officers – but, they must be in uniform, they only have law enforcement powers within our jurisdiction and have no off-duty powers – our recruits go through the Ocean County Police Academy – 770 hours, beginning mid-December – 5 days/week, 12 hours/day – don’t graduate until Thursday before Memorial Day – on weekends February-April, they attend field training with experienced officers – this is the first year for 50% of our seasonal workforce – next year, probably 70-80% of them will have less than 2 years experience.
Councilman Lurie: thought, that when fully funding Specials in this year’s budget, as a result of bringing back the hotel tax back, we were bringing Specials to levels they were at in previous years – surprised there are 10 less – brought revenue anticipations up in the budget, because we were fully funded for Specials (requested $365,000 in 2011 for Specials – got $305,000; Councilman Corbally: they were funded at the 2009 level; Chief O’Hara: 2009 level was $365,000, 2010 was $265,000 – he requested $365,000 but doesn’t believe they got it – been trying to make it work, but the situation has changed beyond expectations).
Mayor Barrella: asked Chief to elaborate on change in circumstance – have the money to put more hours out there, but don’t have the bodies to deal with the situation.
Chief O’Hara: correct – manning more hours and shifts on the street this summer than last – lot more coverage but with less bodies – they’re maxed out – last year, officers averaged 24-30 hours/week – this year, they’re averaging 40+ because there are less – that’s the predicament (Councilman Dyer: asked what, in the past, did Governing Body decide) in past years, had first recruitment and testing in July, to start the nighttime academy in the last week of August – those recruits go 3 nights/week and many Saturdays until May – last year, because of funding and cost, we opted not to do that class and waited until November, which was normally the second group that went through the Academy full-time during the day (Councilman Dyer: asked for the drop-dead date to get Specials in the academy) need to know about funding by early October, because scheduling, testing and recruiting must be started, and we must give a commitment to the academy.
Lt. Dikun: to get 50 candidates who meet our high standards, need an applicant pool of around 500 – difficult – in previous years, most recruits came from Ocean and Monmouth Counties – now, will have to start recruiting outside, including colleges and universities in north Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York – normally, candidates would come to us – this year, will have to recruit – will need more lead time than in the past.
Mayor Barrella: asked if the Governing Body would be throwing money into a short-term solution if Specials were not funded or 2012.
Chief O’Hara: would be taking care of a short-term problem with a short-term fix –would be in the same boat next year, because we’d be extremely understaffed – need bodies – process starts early – pride ourselves on getting the best candidates – our civil liabilities have been next to nothing over the last 10 years because of the intense screening and training of employees – don’t get problem candidates who create issues that can lead to litigation (Mayor Barrella: confirmed that this is an essential component of the plan) essential, if looking at a long-term improvement – at the top of the list – can’t do anything without the bodies.
Councilman Lurie: focusing on short-term, the $50-75K, the purpose of this meeting – something needs to be done right away – asked if the 8 shifts/week for 2 officers are 8-hour shifts (Chief O’Hara: depends on the detail) asked if shifts could be flexible (Chief O’Hara: yes – could do 4 shifts one night and skip a shift if necessary, depending on circumstances) asked if they want to target Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday late afternoon (Chief O’Hara: even daytime on Saturdays and Sundays are target areas – increase in complaints of behavior issues – would adjust as needed, week to week).
Councilman Lurie: contacted State Police – going to send “TAC packs” at random times during the week for 2 hours at a time - will do DWI patrols on 2 Saturday nights this summer from 10PM to 4AM – will utilize our offices and State marine barracks, because they have a breathalyzer and holding cell, for arrests pertaining to that – 95% confirmed - will reveal once approval is received (Chief O’Hara: had “TAC packs” come to town when Allenwood barracks were open – primary focus is motor vehicle violations and DWI – never had experience with them enforcing local ordinances) President Obama dedicated this money to State Police for quality of life issues – have been setting up “TAC packs” throughout summer (Chief O’Hara: welcomed their assistance – anything that can improve what’s going on is a step in the right direction) said they’d do Route 35, come around McDonald’s to Ocean Avenue, up Broadway, and continue around in that loop.
Mayor Barrella: asked Chief if he’s spoken with the State Police to confirm (no – was away last week) appreciates the comments – knows when he should listen to professionals’ advice – scheduling, etc. up to Chief O’Hara and Lt. Dikun.
Councilman Dyer: any additional help would be well accepted – will allow Chief to deploy people to other areas.
Councilman Lurie: on the 2 dedicated Saturdays, they will be in contact with our Department – talked about issuing radios – “TAC pack” patrols will be here randomly.
Councilman Dyer: that will allow Chief and Lieutenant to schedule as they see fit.
Councilwoman Tooker: need to talk about a long-term plan – thanked Chief O’Hara and Lt. Dikun – took a long time and plan is very well thought out – would like a lot of the ideas implemented – need to do something quickly for the summer, in conjunction with plan for next year.
Councilman Corbally: thanked Lt. Dikun and Chief O’Hara – great job in a short period of time – a lot will take time to put into place, but this is a great start.
Councilman Lurie: thanked Chief O’Hara and Lt. Dikun.
Administrator/CFO Riehl: explained the procedure for and ramifications of an emergency appropriation at the request of Mayor Barrella - in order to fund this, would have to pass an emergency resolution, because the funds weren’t provided in the 2011 budget – would have to fund it fully in next year’s budget – would be outside appropriation caps, but inside the 2% levy cap – have to account for what you’re going to accomplish this year and fund next year – looking at a 1.7 cents or $428,000 in debt service, for the bond sale authorized at last Council meeting – will have pension increase – also starting to pay interest on the deferral we put in a couple years ago – will be a health benefit increase – those components are outside the 2% levy cap, but still an increase in spending.
Mayor Barrella: asked if there is an economic effect, in terms of budget, if an emergency appropriation is passed for $155,000 tonight or $95,000 tonight and another for $60,000 in October (Administrator Riehl: no) sending a clear message that we will have zero tolerance for the rest of this year and are preparing for zero tolerance next year (Ms. Riehl: this year, we budgeted a $90,000 emergency appropriation that we put into place last year – not subject to that next year, so that gives some leeway – also, through June, court revenue is up almost $30,000 and parking meter revenue is up a little over $60,000) asked if there is any benefit, from an economic or budget point of view, to bifurcating the Chief’s request – if we don’t do it in October, we’re doomed to repeat the problem we’re having this summer – so, doing it now would be more prudent.
Councilman Corbally: asked Ms. Riehl to explain the caps again (there are 2 caps – appropriation cap and tax levy cap – emergency appropriation would be outside the appropriation cap, but we we’re about $1.6 million under that this year anyway – the levy cap is the 2% on what taxation was the year before – if it’s strictly 2%, our increase next year will be $122,000 – in addition, increases to some other costs are exempt from that 2% cap, so you’re still going to increase it – for example, in this budget year, our $117,000, 2% cap, at the end of the day was almost $700,000 because of exclusions – but it’s still appropriations) if we have a 2% tax levy cap next year, it’s not going to fall in that $120,000 dollars that we’re talking about, so the $155,000....(is within in that).
Councilman Dyer: if we approve $155,000, we’re in the hole next year $155,000 towards that 2% cap.
Councilman Hennessy: asked what we’re allowed to raise in the 2% cap next year (Ms. Riehl: around $122,000).
Councilman Dyer: would have to cut $30,000 out of the overall budget.
Mayor Barrella: without increased revenue sources, that would be the case – parking and court fines are up (Ms. Riehl: and we’re going to lose the other $90,000 emergency on the books) so, we’re really talking about $65,000.
Councilman Dyer: asked if court and parking revenues are up in comparison to the budget or last year (Ms. Riehl: last year).
Mayor Barrella: even at $155,000, a lot of things in the plan are non-economic – money alone will not solve the problem.
Lt. Dikun: probably the most accurate way of looking at it is, we are continuing to address a symptom, as opposed to finding a cure – enforcement is a small part of a comprehensive plan (Councilman Dyer: asked if police met with the businesses, as a group, to lay out the summer and see what the events are) once we get past the New Year, we are forecasting the summer for special events – many of which are now routine – go year-to-year, come up with a calendar of events – for example, already staffed for the breast cancer walk in October – it’s something we can anticipate – in constant communication with the Chamber of Commerce, and weekly with a number of businesses – had a lengthy meeting with one business representative yesterday – ongoing process – have been pretty successful.
Mayor Barrella: invited public comment on whether to do an emergency appropriation, to provide for funding for the rest of the summer and this year, and for training for Special Police Officers going into next year.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD OPENED AT 7:25PM
Marilyn Burke, Pt. Pleasant Beach (PPB): asked if there are fines connected with arrests the additional manpower would bring (yes) and how it would affect revenue (Chief: issued 1,000 more parking tickets in June 2011 than June 2010 – that’s $48,000 – that money won’t come into the CFO until about August – the court revenue Ms. Riehl announced is really only through May – have been hitting a record number of ordinance violations, which average about $275 each – won’t see full effect until November or December because summer court sessions continue through November – there will be money coming into the town coffers through fines; Mayor Barrella: to the extent this program is successful, it could have the opposite effect on revenues if people start behaving) asked what type of revenue can be anticipated from additional drunk driving arrests, etc. (Lt. Dikun: will be similar – through June 30th, up about 35% from last year – have always used a weekend compilation to figure out where things are going – next week, for the first time, will be going to weekly, because Monday-Thursday productivity is considerably more than it was in years past) asked how much of the debt could be met by the incoming fines (Lt. Dikun: hoping to generate income to offset the cost, but also looking to decrease the number of violations to enhance quality of life – we’re in uncharted waters – will have to take it a step at a time – enhancing quality of life will be primary to enhancing the financial aspects) once we get tougher on the people affecting our town, the better off we will be (Lt. Dikun: don’t know how successful we’ll be with compliance, don’t know if saturation will start earlier, rather than later, whether this is the type of summer where productivity begins to dwindle because there are fewer visitors – a lot of factors can’t be predicted) should see the benefit next year – financially, doesn’t look so bad.
Virginia Cronin (PPB): applauds the introduction of this program – would like it to go forward – it’s overdue – wants Pt. Pleasant Beach to be a pleasant family place.
Kevin Riordan (PPB): lives in District 4 – confirmed with Administrator Riehl that it could be possible to pay this off through surplus next year without having to raise taxes and falling far off the caps – confirmed with Chief O’Hara that there are less officers but more hours this year – more officers should lead to more statistical arrests – asked if officers are performing better because this is a contract year (2 less officers in negotiation this year than last – it’s the Special Officer hours that have increased and they don’t have a contract – they are hourly, at will employees).
Dave Cavagnaro (PPB): thanked Council for the meeting – agrees with the appropriation – police always do a fantastic job – asked Council to consider a November non-binding referendum that would include closing the bars earlier and allow for overnight, taxpayer-only parking – will give Council information on how the general public feels and help them with decisions, moving forward.
Ben Dispoto (PPB): asked if Council has the ability to do a special assessment on the Boardwalk area – to have Boardwalk businesses assume the cost of this, because that’s where a vast number of these people are going, and where the revenue is generated (no).
Catherine Wohlfeil (PPB): asked Council to consider resident only parking, all of the time, May through October.
Don Betz (PPB): need to support police as much as possible and need to listen these professionals - funding is a good idea – other problems that affect businesses and residents need to be addressed – people coming to Boardwalk at 6 o’clock at night are not supporting the businesses, they’re throwing garbage, bottles of booze, out of their cars and into the streets – suggested Council sit on the Boardwalk at 6 o’clock - it’s like a Third World country– and they’re nasty people – agrees that money is not 100% of the answer – need to prioritize the problems in town.
Steve Schneider (PPB): wondered if reductions in police force and hotel tax have lead to shortfall and crime escalation, and if the Governing Body feels responsible for these decisions they made last year.
Pat English (PPB): asked if Specials can pay for themselves to go through school and if it isn’t an added incentive for the Police Department to pick them up afterwards (Chief O’Hara: they attend on their own time – we don’t pay them an hourly wage – can’t put that burden on a candidate for an employment position – there are things we have to fund before an employment offer is made) from his 31 years experience in law enforcement, in Highland Park, would go to the Academy and after the people had put themselves through would look to employ them – it saved the town $10K to $15K (Chief O’Hara: that was an alternate route program, used for full-time sworn officers with a Class A Certificate – Special Officers are totally different) asked if Chief would look into it, and if colleges would accept that (Lt. Dikun: in NJ, an alternate route graduate cannot work in a Class II position – prohibited by state statute – they get 17 credits for attending the Police Academy – but pre-employment costs are mandated by state statute).
Aleta Weinstein (PPB): should support Police – they do a wonderful job – need them more than ever – asked what the fine is for public urination or defecation (Chief O’Hara: $275 for public urination) asked if it can be increased by municipality (Chief O’Hara: municipality can recommend it, but it must be first approved by the County Assignment Judge at the Superior Court – it’s a lengthy process – we’ve been advised that, at our current level, it’s better to remain where we are).
Vince Castin (PPB): asked if an officer has to see someone urinating in order to issue the fine (Chief O’Hara: in any ordinance violation, officer must witness the offense in order to write the summons – citizen can sign a complaint if he/she witnessed it).
Barry Moffett (PPB): lives in a condo on the Boardwalk – specializes in insuring restaurants and night clubs – Pt. Pleasant Beach is a very innocuous area compared to others – have no problems placing insurance – Pt. Pleasant Beach is not Seaside, Belmar, South Philadelphia – not an area that creates problems – it’s not stereotyped – doesn’t have a bad reputation – thinks having a small number of people come in to make complaints can get blown out of proportion – restaurants and nightclubs support this town – they’re the ones who hire people, generate income, pay taxes – an early closing would be a disaster – consideration should be given to the business people – he tried to open a pool hall in town about a year ago but was turned down for reasons that didn’t make sense – had to open it in Brick – doing well – never had an incident – town now has a vacant store – kids are hanging out at 7-11 – they don’t have a place to go – there is a spare number of people here – Council shouldn’t be giving them credibility.
Peg Bourne (PPB): agrees with what the Chief and Lieutenant have put forth – supports the Police Department – what Councilman Lurie discussed with the State Police is an added bonus – asked if there is any support from the County Police (Chief O’Hara: there is no County Police – there is a County Sheriff’s Department – because of the setup in NJ, their abilities and normal routine is not this type of enforcement or activity – they don’t have people delegated to this type of duty).
Motion by Councilman Corbally to close public participation was seconded by Councilman Lurie and carried by roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Tooker, Hennessy, Corbally, Lurie, Dyer….YEA
Councilman Lurie: thanked the Chief and Lieutenant for putting package together – have an immediate concern to implement – would like to split it into two portions.
Motion by Councilman Lurie to implement $20,000 for plain clothes bike patrol and $50,000 for the estimate for July 29-Septemer 5, 2011, for the 8 shifts/week that the Chief and Lieutenant discussed (Special program can be worked out at the end of the summer) was seconded by Councilman Dyer.
Councilman Corbally: what Councilman Lurie is proposing is not even following through the short-term plan – with the state the town is in, should appropriate the $155,000 and let Police plan on having more Specials next year.
Councilman Dyer: have 4 Council meetings to make decision to proceed with the second part of the plan – in favor of approving $70,000 now and looking at other portion after we have better numbers.
Mayor Barrella: asked Councilmen Lurie and Dyer, if revenue numbers don’t project out, if we’re not going to send the Specials to the Academy - not a discretionary hire – if this is not fixed now, will be facing paying overtime to regular officers again next year – doesn’t make sense economically – doesn’t understand their rationale.
Councilman Dyer: no need to rush – as a businessman, the more facts you gather, the better decision is made – not saying he’s not going to vote for the appropriation, but it’s prudent to wait until October to gather information on revenue and expenses before going forward - has difficulty budgeting something for $155,000 that puts us over the 2% cap for next year – needs the facts first – will have better information as to surplus at that point as well, so it might be moot (Mayor Barrella: putting a price on quality of life) referred to it being the Mayor’s political season.
Councilman Corbally: talking about quality of life and people probably getting hurt – not blowing smoke – these are the facts – have to make it work one way or the other – quality of life and safety of citizens – doesn’t care what the numbers are in October - need to spend this $155,000.
Attorney Gannon: in order to appropriate whatever sum the Governing Body deems appropriate, a resolution must be passed and filed with the Director of Local Finance by 2/3 vote of the majority (4 votes) – as part of the local budget law, as part of the resolution and vote, if Governing Body decides to go forward, must make a finding in the motion that a certain financial emergency exists and there is a pressing need for the funding to meet public expenditures in order to promote public health, safety and welfare – that should be part of the motion, if Governing Body so desires.
Chief O’Hara: Councilman Lurie suggested $50,000 but the 8 shifts/week is based on $75,000.
Councilman Lurie: amended his motion to declare that a financial emergency exists because there was not sufficient funds anticipated or provided in the budget for 2011, and that there is a pressing need to appropriate an additional $95,000 of funding to meet the needs to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens, residents and visitors of the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach. Amended motion was seconded by Councilman Dyer and carried by roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Tooker*, Hennessy, Corbally, Lurie**, Dyer***….YEA
*Councilwoman Tooker: would have preferred the full funding.
**Councilman Lurie: as a Council, need to compromise
****Councilman Dyer: need the immediate at hand, which is $95,000
Motion by Councilman Corbally to adjourn was seconded by Councilman Lurie and carried by roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Tooker, Hennessy, Corbally, Lurie, Dyer….YEA
Meeting was adjourned at 8:06PM.
Transcribed by: Eileen Farrell, Deputy Clerk
Attest: Maryann Ellsworth, Municipal Clerk
Published August24, 2011 | Council Minutes | 1243