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Budget Deficit Looming, Pennsauken Police Department Could Face Layoffs

PENNSAUKEN, N.J. (CBS) -- New Jersey's two percent cap on property taxes is forcing municipalities all over the state to take a hard look at budgets for 2012.

Officials in Pennsauken, Camden county want all departments to make cut backs and the police department there could face layoffs.

A full house turned out for a Pennsauken township committee meeting Wednesday with people concerned about potential layoffs of six police officers and six demotions of superior officers by December 1st. Township administration is trying to cover a projected $250,000 budget deficit for 2012. Mayor Jack Killian says the police department has been asked to make $125,000 in concessions.

"Each year the police officers are allowed to sell 'x' amount of days back and that is vacation and sick time they have accumulated. If he they can limit that back, that would stop the problem, wouldn't open up contracts and we would have no layoffs.

"We don't think they are necessary.," said Police Union President Matt Henkel.

Henkel says the department won't make any concession that would open up its current contract like the fire department did in delaying a raise, six months.

"Any alteration to our contract would trigger the health care portion to kick in where we would then be obligated to pay a greater portion of our health care then what we are paying right now."

It was business as usual on Westfield avenue, but with possible police layoffs looming, business owners fear an increase in crime.

"It brings potential for danger because if we call, they're not going to be able to respond in time," said Victoria Vasquez of Odyssey Pizza.

"As far as anybody coming in the area, because we have less police officers, who knows," said Jackie Suggs of Jerry's Flowers & Gifts.

The Mayor says that they have requested cuts across the board. The fire department has agreed to delay their raises six months, with cuts from non-union municipal employees to be determined in January.

Reported by Robin Rieger, CBS 3

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