Five Takeaways from OSC’s Borough of Keansburg Report
Read five main takeaways from OSC's audit report on the Borough of Keansburg.
The Office of the State Comptroller is responsible for reviewing the performance of public entities in New Jersey – essentially, determining how effectively and efficiently government is serving New Jersey residents. That includes overseeing local municipalities and scrutinizing their operations.
OSC’s latest performance audit on the Borough of Keansburg revealed wasteful spending on employee benefits, many of which are out-of-step with what state employees receive.
Here are five takeaways:
- Keansburg’s Police Chief received 55 vacation days in one year. OSC found that the Police Chief in Keansburg received 11 weeks of vacation in 2018. That’s on top of sick days, paid holidays, and compensatory time. And it means that the Police Chief was granted vacation leave on the taxpayer’s dime for more than 20 percent of the work year.
“Most New Jerseyans are lucky to get a few weeks of vacation each year,” said Acting State Comptroller Kevin D. Walsh. “It’s unreasonable and wasteful.”
- Employees sold back their unused vacation time for cash payments. Our audit found that the Police Chief sold back 50 unused vacation days in 2018 and 30 days in 2017. The Borough’s Municipal Clerk also received payments for unused vacation days in the same years, even though his contract prohibited such payouts except upon retirement. The Clerk also sold back 10 unused sick days in 2018 and 20 days in 2017, also in violation of the Clerk’s contract.
- The Borough spent $451,000 on “longevity payments.” Municipal employees received yearly cash bonuses for length of service that totaled close to half a million dollars in 2017-18. Police officers were eligible for longevity bonuses after one year of service, while other Borough employees were eligible after five years. OSC found that police officers received 76 percent of the longevity payments, which ranged between 2 to 10 percent of their base pay. Three officers each received more than $10,000 a year.
“Longevity payments are nothing but bonuses that float under the radar,” said Walsh. “Government transparency and accountability is diminished when taxpayers fund what are essentially yearly bonuses that are all but untraceable to taxpayers.”
- Vacation benefits for Borough employees far exceed what state employees receive. Police officers with more than 21 years of service were granted between 30 and 45 days of vacation per year. Compare that to state employees who receive 25 days of vacation after 20 years of service. In addition to the Police Chief’s 55 vacation days, the Deputy Chief of Police received 50 days of vacation and the Municipal Clerk received 30 days of vacation.
- The Borough made wasteful health benefit waiver payments. OSC found that the Borough provided health benefit opt-out waiver payments to two employees who were in fact covered by the State Health Benefits Program. The improper payments totaled about $19,250 in 2017-18.
You can read OSC’s full report, along with a series of recommendations we made to the Borough, here.
Do you have information about government fraud, waste or abuse? We want to hear from you. File an online complaint, send us an email at email@example.com, or call us at 1-855-OSC-TIPS. You can remain anonymous.
Waste or Abuse
Waste or Abuse