Lakewood Committeeman Tells Unions: Agree To Pay Freeze Or Risk Layoffs


steven-langert1Lakewood, NJ – The township’s unions could face layoffs if they don’t take a wage freeze to reduce a $2 million municipal budget shortfall, Committeeman Steven Langert says.

Langert said Tuesday he met last week with the heads of the township’s unions and relayed that message.

“We could save $1 million” if the unions accept a wage freeze, Langert said. He is one of two finance liaisons for the township budget, and Committeeman Albert Akerman, the other liaison, was not at the meeting with union officials, Langert said.

“Nothing has been decided,” Langert said. “I would rather not have to raise taxes. I think we need to spend responsibly.”

Langert said his negotiating skills helped prevent increases in the municipal budget two years in a row.

Langert also brokered a new contract putting all public employees under the same health insurance carrier, saving the town nearly $1 million. This year, those premiums increased by $850,000, Langert said Tuesday.

To work with the new insurance, Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 71 agreed last year to sign a new contract with the town even though it had one year remaining.

The idea of layoffs and wage freezes did not go over well with Patrolman Gary Przewoznik, president of the PBA local.

“We negotiated in good faith and took concessions to save money,” for the town to avoid layoffs, Przewoznik said.

This year the township hired six officers to replace the officers who retired. Three officers were hired from other towns that had laid them off, two were lateral transfers from Jackson where layoffs were threatened and one is a new officer in the police academy.

“There is a strong possibility we would have to lay people off this year,” Langert said. “The committee is looking for ways to avoid a tax increase or minimize a tax increase and we are looking for ways to save.”

“They are under no obligation to give it to us,” Langert said. ” I want to avoid layoffs in town. We are exploring everything. There is nothing that is not on the table.”

If the unions agree to a wage freeze, nonunion township employees will see a wage freeze also, Langert said.

Deputy Mayor Albert Akerman said the possibility of layoffs is one of may ideas that have been discussed among committee members.

A wage freeze “is one cost-cutting idea, but it is one of many,” Akerman said. There is a lot of exploring to be done yet budget wise.

“Primarily we are going to keep looking for any fat in the budget and keep cutting the fat to close that gap,” Akerman said.

Resident Larry Simons criticized Langert for “bragging” about avoiding a tax increase.

“You don’t get something for nothing,” Simons said. “It costs, whether it is downsizing, or terminating contract or breaking a promise. There is a price to pay to have the bragging rites of no tax increase. Having no (tax) increase comes at what cost? We know, as taxpayers, you get nothing for nothing you pay for it in one form or another.”

{The Asbury Park Press/ Newscenter}


  1. APP will always criticize – whether the township is too little or too much.

    Bottom line is- Lakewood to looking to be fiscally responsible.

    Other towns should learn from them.