Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is asking the city council to approve a three-year deal for Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante after recommending that his contract should run through 2021 instead of 2022.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
In a letter to the city council dated today, the mayor praises Ferrante’s track record, listing 10 points that include decreasing most major crime stats between 2018 and 2019, having no civil complaints during his tenure as chief, and “professionalizing” the city’s office of emergency management – where he previously served as the coordinator.
“Quite simply, given this record, it would be a major blow to the city should his contract not be renewed, which would force him to decide whether to continue in his position without the security of a contract, or retire with a full pension, as is a very realistic option available to him,” Bhalla wrote.
“Despite having the ability to comfortably retire, he wishes to remain in his position because of his passion for his profession and love for the city in which he was born and raised. With this contract, Chief Ferrante would also continue to be paid less than six other Hudson County police chiefs.”
Last week, HCV exclusively reported that Ferrante gave city officials a four-choice ultimatum in a July 11th email, one of which included retiring.
He also said he would be happy to accept the three-year contract initially negotiated, the two-year contract proposed by the council – as long as he is given his contractually obligated raise – as well as being open to any sort of counter offer made by the governing body.
“At the last city council meeting, a resolution was introduced by Councilmember Tiffanie Fisher which attempted to renegotiate the contract agreed to by the administration and police chief that cut the submitted contract from three years to two years and reduced the chief’s negotiated amount of vacation by five days,” Bhalla continued.
“Certain council members stated that the proposed contract should terminate at the conclusion of the term of the Mayor in 2021, which would reflect a two-year contract instead of three. I strongly reject the proposal that law enforcement should have any connection with politics or elections.”
At the July 8th city council meeting, Fisher made a motion to recommend an amended contract which was seconded by 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos.
While the resolution was approved, the council is expected to vote on the three-year version of the contract this week.
Fisher said today that she remains supportive of Ferrante and hopes he will stay in Hoboken “as long as possible,” but accused city spokesman of “lying and/or paltering” for saying Ferrante makes $60,000 less than “fire battalion chiefs.”
“I’m not even sure what that means, but I’d place a bet that it’s not true,” she added, noting that the mayor could have proposed a salary increase for Ferrante if he was so inclined.
According to payroll records, five of the seven Hoboken Fire Department battalion chiefs made over $260,000 in compensation, with the top fire battalion chief earning over $295,000 in 2019 (those figures include overtime pay).
Local 1076 Hoboken Fire Officers President Bernie Grilletti said on Tuesday morning that the salaries in question were inflated largely due to retroactive pay – which came as the result of a contract being settled after union members were working without a deal for five years.
“We believe that the city spokesman should leave the fire department out of of negotiations with the police chief,” he added.
The Hoboken City Council will convene via Zoom on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.