The number of positions on the city’s payroll increased from 1,675 to 1,825 this fiscal year, according to municipal payroll data. Those 150 posts have been filled mostly by new hires, according to data.
“I told you he had a propensity to over hire,” said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, about mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’s hiring practices.
Torres did not return a call for comment.
The city’s payroll data from April 2014 shows 1,675 posts occupied by employees; payroll data from July 2015 shows 1,825 titles occupied by employees.
As the temporary budget impasse intensified some council members criticized Torres for bringing on more employees while the city is in dire financial straits.
“I would have to see a breakdown of those employees,” said council president William McKoy when asked about the increase in the number of people on the city’s payroll. He said he would have to see the breakdown to determine whether those hired are essential employees.
Torres has made a number of essential hires — 21 special police officers and a dozen crossing guards — after taking office on July 1st, 2014. He also gave jobs to many political allies as well as those who worked on his election campaign which garnered criticism from Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, last week.
“Paterson is the Silk City. The only mill still operating is the patronage mill,” remarked Sayegh about the political hires.
The mayor’s hiring of crossing guards has freed up police officers, who often ended up manning crossing intersections due to dearth of crossing guards, to attend to more serious jobs elsewhere in the crime-ridden city.
Torres has also hired 25 regular police officers in an effort to combat crime; however, many of those hires served to replace retiring officers.
The new hires also include a number of inexpensive posts in the city’s recreation division.
“Under his authority he can do that. The only positions the council has control over are cabinet level positions,” said Morris. He said the city should not be hiring additional people unless they are essential employees.
“For every new position there should be ROI (return on investment) whereby the cost of that position should be bringing in revenue not only to offset the cost of that position but exceeds it,” said Morris. “The benefit for every position should be two to one.”