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In re Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 10, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF BURLINGTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 20, 2013

On appeal from the Public Employment Relations Commission, Docket No. IA-2012-016.

Carmen Saginario, Jr., argued the cause for appellant Burlington County Prosecutor's Office (Capehart & Scatchard, P.A., attorneys; Mr. Saginario, of counsel and on the brief; Laurel B. Peltzman and Katheryn Eisenmann, on the brief).

David J. DeFillippo argued the cause for respondents Burlington County Prosecutor's Detectives (Klatsky, Sciarrabone & DeFillippo, attorneys; Mr. DeFillippo, of counsel and on the brief).

Martin R. Pachman, General Counsel, attorney for respondent New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (Don Horowitz, Deputy General Counsel, on the statement in lieu of brief).

Before Judges Parrillo and Fasciale.

PER CURIAM

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office and the County of Burlington (collectively Burlington County) appeal from a final agency decision by the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) affirming an interest arbitration award permitting a salary increase. We remand for further proceedings.

Burlington County Prosecutor's Detectives PBA Local #320 (the Union) is the exclusive bargaining agent for all detectives and investigators employed by Burlington County. On December 31, 2010, the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired. In February 2012, Burlington County filed a Petition to Initiate Compulsory Interest Arbitration. PERC appointed an Arbitrator, who conducted interest arbitration hearings on April 2, 2012, and April 5, 2012. On April 21, 2012, the arbitrator issued his written decision and awarded a salary increase for certain employees amounting to 0.5% on January 1, 2011, 1.25% on January 1, 2012, and 2% on January 1, 2013.[1]

Burlington County appealed to PERC and contended that the award was subject to a 2% salary cap enacted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:13A-16.7, the arbitrator failed to properly analyze nine factors enumerated in N.J.S.A. 34:13A-16g, and that the salary increases were otherwise unreasonable. On May 30, 2012, PERC issued its decision and affirmed the award regarding salary increases stating that

[t]he arbitrator discussed at length the economic condition of [Burlington] County, and the impact of the tax levy cap which is incorporated by reference into N.J.S.A. 34:13A-16g. . . . Here, he found that the award which he rendered would not cause the County to exceed its levy cap, and that the County had the ability to pay the salary award. . . .
We find that the arbitrator adequately evaluated all the statutory criteria; explained why he gave more weight to some factors and less to others; and issued a comprehensive award that reasonably determined the issues and is supported by ...

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