On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Civil Service Commission, Docket No. 2008-4998.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued January 4, 2011 - Decided
Before Judges Graves and Messano.
Jacqueline Andrews (Andrews) is a former employee of the Township of Irvington (the Township). She appeals from a final administrative decision of the Civil Service Commission (the Commission), which accepted and adopted the findings and conclusions contained in the initial decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Commission determined that the decision by the Township to layoff certain employees, including Andrews, was justified for reasons of economy and efficiency. We affirm.
Four witnesses testified at the administrative hearing on March 16, 2010: Wayne Bradley; the business administrator for the Township; Faheem Ra'Oof, the Township's chief fiscal officer; Leslie Daley, a certified public accountant; and Andrews. The ALJ's findings and credibility assessments of the witnesses were as follows:
Mr. Bradley's testimony was straight forward and credible. "Economy and Efficiency" were the reasons for the layoffs. According to Mr. Bradley, a 12 million dollar deficit was reduced to 6 million dollars as a result of the Township of Irvington receiving State Aid and grant funds along with the sale of a hospital. Mr. Bradley also confirmed that in addition to the six permanent employees who were laid off that action was preceded by the termination of seven provisional employees.
Mr. Bradley testified that the only reason for the layoff of Ms. Andrews and the other employees was to close the financial gap initially proposed in the budget.
The next witness to testify was [F]aheem Ra'Oof, the Director of Finance for the Township of Irvington.
Mr. Ra'Oof confirmed that there was a $6 million dollar deficit to be closed and the only way to reduce the deficit was to either increase revenues or decrease costs.
One of the ways that costs were reduced was by laying off employees.
Mr. Ra'Oof confirmed that there was a budget surplus at the end of 2007 in an amount that could be used in the upcoming budget of $588,000. Despite this surplus, Mr. Ra'Oof confirmed [a] $6 million dollar gap between revenues and expenses that were about to be submitted to the Township and confirmed that the gap was closed by exercising efficiencies, one of them being the layoff of employees. Although the savings for the fiscal year of 2007/2008 only amounted to $20,000 (approximately) because by [the] time the layoff actually took effect, there was only three weeks left in the fiscal year, the savings for the following year would have been in excess of $300,000 (approximate).
Mr. Ra'Oof confirmed that the layoffs were not aimed at any specific employee, but rather were utilized to balance the budget.
Testifying on behalf of Jacqueline Andrews was Leslie Daley, a CPA in private practice. Mr. Daley's primary function was to assist Ms. Andrews in her examination of the witnesses at the hearing and offered little by way of evidential testimony to fortify Ms. Andrew's contention that the layoffs of the Township were pretextual and only meant to terminate her. Mr. Daley did not have an opportunity to review a full budget from either 2007 or 2008. He offered conjecture masked as ...