The Hoboken City Council unanimously approved (9-0) a three-year contract for Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante last night, ending a brief political squabble that at times turned ugly on social media.
The new agreement, effective through Dec. 31 2022, provides a salary increase of $5,000 for the next two years. Therefore, Ferrante will earn $206,075 annually next year and $211,075 in 2022.
The chief currently makes $201,075 a year and had been working without a contract since the end of 2019.
“I thank the mayor, the city council, and city administration for finally coming together to get this completed,” Ferrante told HCV.
“I look forward to continuing my 24/7 dedication to serving our City’s residents and businesses, as well as serving the men and women of the Hoboken Police Department who have done tremendous work during a very difficult period in our history. I am only looking ahead to tomorrow’s challenges that we face.”
In a statement, Mayor Ravi Bhalla said he was “thrilled that Hoboken will now have Chief Ferrante at the helm of the Hoboken Police Department for a full three years thanks to the newly adopted contract.”
“Under his leadership, the police department has taken major steps forward to keep Hoboken safe and increase the quality of life for all of our residents, and I have no doubt this progress will continue in the years to come. I thank the council for the unanimous support for Chief Ferrante and the Hoboken Police Department.”
The agreement was approved unanimously, but the contract had turned into a political flare up on social media – particularly between the Bhalla administration, Ferrante, and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher
Fisher introduced a resolution that was seconded by 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos during the July 8 council meeting which proposed a two-year contract for the chief that had five less vacation days – a decrease from 30 to 25.
During the meeting, Fisher suggested it was the fiscally responsible thing to do while the city is still crunching numbers for a budget in a deepening financial crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as stating that it made more sense for the chief’s tenure to be “co-terminus” with the mayor’s.
But the issue quickly took an ugly turn, with tensions rising on social media exchanges, with Ferrante at one point telling Fisher she was “out of line.”
Ferrante, citing his work as chief since his appointment in 2014, tweeted that he “offered to not take my 2019 raise, offered to take $0 additional money in 2020, & some council members made my contract a spectacle w/ false statements & social media posts, & amended it to end next yr w/ 5 less vac days. Petty! I await their vote!”
Fisher at one point responded that Ferrante “believes BS by City Hall” but later said that “… This has been blown out of proportion so much that I am willing to acquiesce. None on the council wanted our Chief to leave notwithstanding the messaging from City Hall to the contrary.”
The episode, once again, highlighted an increasingly hostile political climate in Hoboken.
Emails obtained by HCV showed a testy exchange between council members and the city administration over Ferrante’s contract renewal.
Ferrante later suggested that the council members could “go in a different direction so he could “apply for my retirement and take my work product and reputation to another employer” if the council did not approve the three year contract; grant his contractual obligated raise — which he waived — from December 1st, 2019; or “collectively, decide on compensation that you feel is appropriate for me comparative to the salaries of other Hudson County chiefs and make a proposal.”
The Bhalla administration, in support of Ferrante, had cited his substantial reduction in crime rates in almost all major categories, creating new deployments, and receiving no civil complaints for excessive force.
Follow Corey McDonald on Twitter @cwmcdonald_