Office of the Mayor – West Windsor Township
December 19, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Shing-Fu Hsueh, Mayor
West Windsor Township
West Windsor Township in Court over Tuition Reimbursement
West Windsor, N.J. -- The Township of West Windsor has filed an appeal with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, seeking to reverse a November 19, 2012, decision by the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission. In that decision, the Commission denied the Township's petition to restrain arbitration of a police union grievance seeking full tuition reimbursement from the Township so that two of its police officers can take helicopter flying lessons.
The unrestricted practice of such reimbursement derives from long-standing provisions in police union labor contracts which were decided by State appointed arbitrators and are no longer compatible with the economic and budgetary realities that confront municipalities today. When the Township was faced with a $14,860 flight school tuition bill through 2011 under the old contractual provision, it determined to end the fiscally irresponsible practice. The Commission's failure to restrain the union grievance means that the Township will be forced to incur an estimated $83,100 in additional flight school tuition costs through 2013 if an arbitrator determines the contractual provision is enforceable.
West Windsor has never deployed a helicopter or any aircraft as part of its police or public safety apparatus, and has never deployed any police personnel to pilot such craft. The Township has determined, as a matter of government policy, that it would be inconsistent with the intent of tuition reimbursement to subsidize the tuition of any of its police officers (or any other public employee) for courses that are unrelated to the specifics of the individual’s job function. Helicopter piloting and other such courses have no practical application whatsoever to police work in the Township or to any other function or purpose of Township governance; and no conceivable benefit to the Township's citizens. Consistent with this policy decision, however, the Township will continue its police tuition reimbursement program for college credits for degrees in Police Science, Police Administration, Public Safety, Criminal Justice or similar police-related courses.