✅A petition to repeal an ordinance shifting police department funds was approved

✅Mayor Dan Rodrick said he doesn't need an ordinance to make the changes

✅He said many signatures were fake but doesn't want to spend money on a legal fight


TOMS RIVER — Residents who hoped to reverse a Township Council vote on a police funding ordinance were rebuffed by the mayor, who said he didn't need the ordinance in the first place.

The council on Feb. 14 adopted an ordinance that shifted funding that had been used for the salaries of two captains to eight new EMT positions. Opponents of the measure went to work collecting signatures that would allow the measure to be reconsidered or else go to a referendum vote.

Despite the petitions being certified by the township clerk, and the council unanimously voting to repeal the ordinance, Mayor Dan Rodrick said nothing will change regarding police funding.

The township will not be pushed around by unions that opposed the measure, the mayor said.

"The fact is I never needed the ordinance. It is the administration's right to determine the staffing levels at the police department and that is what we will do. Residents cannot wait 30 minutes for an ambulance. We do not need two more $350,000-a-year management positions at the PD. We need more boots on the ground. We need more EMTs at the PD," Rodrick said.

The mayor said that he has been advised that a court could throw out the petitions because the signatures were not witnessed. He also accused the petition organizers of faking signatures.

"We could also prove that many of the signatures on that petition were not signed by those individuals whose names were on them," Rodrick said to a murmur of protest from the audience. "That being said, I'm not going to spend taxpayer dollars on lawyers to fight in court for an ordinance I do not need."

ALSO READ:Toms River, NJ shifts police funding despite public opposition

The town sent a message

Rodrick also announced that Toms River's full-time EMT will be the highest paid in the state with a starting salary of $62,000. Part-timers will be paid $35 per hour.

The repeal vote meant different things to two sets of council members. Supporters said they voted to repeal in recognition that the mayor did not need the ordinance to shift funding. They said that residents have asked them for better ambulance response times and they would be able to deliver.

Councilman David Ciccozzi, one of two vocal opponents of the ordinance, vowed there would be more petitions. Councilman Jim Quinlisk, in objecting to Rodrick questioning the validity of the petition signatures, paraphrased Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels' oft-quoted line about lies becoming true if repeated enough times.

"The people of this town fought hard for this. They're sending you a message and it's similar to what I said a couple of weeks ago that your ship is sinking so I vote yes for this ordinance," Quinlisk said.

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