On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cape May County, Docket No. CPM-L-156-06.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Weissbard, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Kestin, Weissbard and Graves.
In March 2006, Robert L. Taylor, the Cape May County Prosecutor (Prosecutor), filed a complaint under N.J.S.A. 2A:158-7 and In re Application of Bigley, 55 N.J. 53 (1969) (Bigley application), petitioning the County Assignment Judge for an order directing the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders (Freeholders) to appropriate "necessary" funds for the Prosecutor's Office. More specifically, the Prosecutor requested:
(1) additional funds necessary for the Prosecutor to meet the expenses of his office and to fulfill his statutory duties and responsibilities (count one);
(2) additional funds necessary to hire ten investigators in 2006, at varying levels of experience and commensurate salaries, with additional investigators and agents to be hired in 2007 and 2008, to hire four assistant prosecutors at entry-level to midrange salaries, with two to be hired in 2006 and two in later years, to hire additional support staff, and to purchase equipment, vehicles, and other necessary resources as set forth in the Prosecutor's budget request (count two);
(3) $3.3 million, or such other sums necessary to complete and renovate the existing and unused third floor of the County Courthouse building for use by the Prosecutor's Office, or, alternatively, to obtain other centrally located office space of approximately 19,000 square feet to house the Prosecutor's Office in one location (count three);
(4) $456,860 in additional funds necessary to provide Prosecutor's Office employees with salary increases, bringing their salaries into line with the salaries of their statewide counterparts (count four); and
(5) $20,000 in additional funds for crime prevention education, community outreach, and school based programs (count five).
Along with his complaint, the Prosecutor submitted a letter brief in support of his application. In April 2006, the Freeholders filed their opposition.
The Cape May County Assignment Judge was unable to handle the case due to a conflict. Therefore, the application was assigned to Judge William C. Todd, III, as the Acting Assignment Judge. He heard argument and accepted testimonial and documentary evidence in hearings held on May 8, 9, and 11, and June 1, 2006.
Prior to and during the hearings, the Prosecutor and Freeholders reached compromise agreements as to most issues. The only issue that remained for resolution by Judge Todd was that of salary increases for the Prosecutor's Office employees. By written opinion and order dated June 8, 2006, and by amended order dated June 13, 2006, Judge Todd directed the Freeholders to appropriate monies necessary to fund salary increases for the following employees, whose increases were not governed by existing collective negotiations ...