Toms River officials introduced an ordinance Tuesday night to appropriate $3 million towards payouts to employees who are retiring and are owed money for back sick and vacation time.
The township council unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance on first reading to raise the $3 million under an emergency appropriation, a practice which has been permissible under state law for the past several years, according to Township Administrator Paul Shives.
Funding appropriated on an emergency basis is normally borrowed.
"For a town our size … it spreads it out over a period of time to alleviate the spikes in the tax rate that would inevitably follow if you did it on a pay as you go basis," said Shives.
Toms River has seen a "record" number of retirements over the past year, said Shives, and the accumulated sick and vacation time employees are owed goes back 20 years, in some cases.
While recent reforms and union contracts have cut back on the practice of compensating employees for unused sick and vacation time upon retirement, employees who were hired before the reforms were put in place are still entitled to the money.
No council members commented on the issue at the meeting.
Paul Brush, a Democratic candidate for township council, took issue with the emergency appropriation during a public comment period.
"I have a feeling it was not put in the budget, for obvious reasons, because there is an important election coming up," said Brush.
"They should have budgeted this $3,000,000 in the budget or at the very least spread the payout over three years," he later said in an e-mail to Toms River Patch.
The funding ordinance appropriating the $3 million is subject to a second vote and public hearing before passage, which is likely to occur at the council's next meeting in November.