Pensions are not "free money"

| 25 Jul 2012 | 09:51

    In response to the misinformation, in a reply to my factual letter, about police department cuts in West Milford, I write this from being part of a police officer's family. With all police have to deal with anywhere these days, police officers are far from overpaid and their pensions are far from extravagant and not at all free. I stated morale was at its highest, yes, but when the department was finally restructured, after many delays, not due to salaries. If anything, the police are not respected as they should always be. From my own personal experience, I know more than the average person. My late dad was a Hoboken police officer for 39 years and for all those years, he paid into his own pension fund, as do all officers. That money, being part of his gross salary, was taxed as income. When he did retire in 1964, his pension was again taxed as income, except for a small exemption, so he actually paid income tax on the same money twice, which was pointed out to him by his tax accountant. It was far from being "free money." All those years, he was paying property taxes on a 1929 summer home in West Milford, as well as on our family home in Hoboken, because as a captain, he was required to live there. After retiring, our family moved here permanently, into a home that had been gradually made into a year-round one. Property taxes were paid on that home until 2002, when I sold it after both my parents had died. A lot of family property taxes were paid over 73 years! As for the school budgets, my parents always voted for them, as they felt all children deserved the best education and all staff should be well paid and respected. The only person in our family to attend school here was our son. I am sure a number of things could have been cut, but nothing that affects the safety, health and welfare of any of us should be tampered with, ever! Some councilmembers feel weeds along the roads are more important. They are so very wrong. Police officers, fireman and EMTs are not "things," nor are any town or school employees. Most live in town, pay taxes and support local businesses. They are not to have a price-tag put upon them. This council's irresponsible decision showed a total disregard for the needed drug and alcohol education programs for our schools and our taxpayers' welfare as a whole. West Milford is a spread out town which needs more officers than many small communities. It is time to stop blaming the police and all public employees for problems they did not create. Taxpayers, lakefront owners and business owners are blaming the wrong people. Organize and travel to Trenton where the true problem lies instead of yelling at town meetings and making threats against local officials. The councilmembers who voted against our needed police officers will have to live with their decision and its effects on our community. I hope they can still sleep well at night.

    Eleanor Monahan West Milford