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What Exactly Are They Cutting in Cherry Hill?

July 28, 2010

Councilman N. John Amato & Mayor Bernie Platt


I must admit I was excited to read the headline ” Cherry Hill cuts more services” in yesterday’s Courier Post.  I had hopes that sensible government and property tax relief was coming to the town where I grew up.  Hopefully the article would tell the public that Bernie Platt was terminating Dan Keashen to save the tax payers his unneeded salary.   Unfortunately, I was reminded that “You can’t judge a book by its cover” and “You can’t get the news by reading the headline”.   

So as I read the article I was sickened to learn that the big plan was to cut the hours of the town’s crossing guards. Yep, crossing guards 40 of them will have their hours trimmed by 2.  

In a cost-cutting move, the township will cut hours by half for school crossing guards …….   Letters went out July 19 to the 40 workers — most of them retirees — who ensure school children make it across streets safely.  

These crossing guards are not highly compensated employees.  In fact they make $15.00 an hour and are NOT paid pension and health benefits.  This is the big cut to save taxpayers?  

Even worse,  Platt sent his credibility challenged chief of staff, Dan Keashen to tout the mayor as a tax cutting fiscal conservative.  

Keashen said the cuts had reduced a projected deficit of $9 million to $6 million.  

Really?  Does anyone with a working brain believe Dan Keashen?  Does anyone living in Cherry Hill believe their property taxes will remain stable because Bernie Platt’s cost cutting plan?  Get ready Cherry Hill this type of gimmickry is a clear sign your property taxes are going up.  

The Courier Post article profiled one of Cherry Hill’s crossing guards.  

Eleanor Jean Johnson, 81, of Cherry Hill, said shorter hours for guards will hurt her ability to pay rising property taxes and prescription-drug costs.   

“I can’t say I’m happy,” said Johnson, a crossing guard since 1969. “But where else can I work? Nobody wants an 81-year-old.”  

If Bernie Platt had any leadership skills about him or if he cared one bit about families struggling to pay property taxes in Cherry Hill he would use his office to demand hat the township renegotiate public school administrator salaries in Cherry Hill.  He should start by renegotiating David Campbell’s $277,000 a year contract.  If Cherry Hill paid Campbell $175,000 a year they could more than pay for Eleanor Jean Johnson and her crossing guard services.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 2:41 pm

    Please realize that the Courier Post had the wrong information on how much a Cherry Hill crossing guard made per hour. Crossing guards were paid $10.35 an hour for 4 hours a day. There were some senior guards that were paid for 5 hours per day. Every guard made the same hourly salary from new trainees to guards that have been doing the job for years and years.
    $10.35 x 4 = $41.40 per day. That equals $207 per week before taxes.
    $10.35 x 5 = $51.75 per day. That equals $258.75 per week before taxes.
    The new rate, which started August 1st, is $15 an hour for 2 hours a day.
    $15.00 x 2 = $30.00 per day. That equals $150 per week before taxes.
    So, crossing guards have no benefits, no work/no pay (don’t get sick), travel to and from posts 4 times a day, stand in all types of weather, deals with traffic, protects the safety of children, and essentially the township wants the same dedication from the guards for a lot less money.
    What can be done about this? Unfortunately, nothing at all…guards must take it or leave it.

  2. August 5, 2010 10:06 pm

    Cherry Hill Mayor & Council are outrageous in their cuts! They should cut their salaries!
    They also made cuts in the Cherry Hill Library Budget which means less open hours & some layoffs.

  3. Jennifer Lass permalink
    August 9, 2010 7:05 pm

    The information posted with regard to the crossing guards hourly pay is correct in the previous comment however what is not indicated is that guards are only paid for those days that school is in session – the average for the school year is aprox 4 hrs a day 4 days a week. A letter from the mayors office indicates that after a thorough analysis was done of crossing guard payments in neighboring towns $15.00 for the AM session and $15.00 for the pm session was determined to be fair and equitable remuneration – what it does not indicate is what towns were used in the analysis and who conducted the survey. Based on publication by the NJDOL Cherry Hill School guards have been routinely paid less than the average mean in the geographic area. The guards are not adequately compensated for travel, use of their vehicles, are not insured and open to civil liability, should the guard be injured the rate of disability compensation would hardly be compensible. The township does not provide a place of employment or adequate safety at the location of employment. The guards are given 2 hours of training per year to meet the state requirement, a stop sign and a vest.
    The 2 hours that the township has cut was indicated by past administrations to adequately compensate the guards allowing for 15 minutes travel 4 times a day and 15 minutes for middle school students or any resident in need of crossing one of these super highways we used to call residential treets. While Mr. Keashan indicates that this will in no way endanger the students, Mr. Keashan must not have children. For those of you who have students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades or those parents of students who leave early or play after school and come home late those guards who used to be there to see them safely across will not be there. The township has indicated that it is the parents responsibility to ensure that their children utilize the guards in the given time frame. This is not a budget cut this is a restructureing of positions held by a majority of retires, given a take it or leave it memorandum. The guards have no right to organize or negotiate, its a good thing they are not a group of 20-50 year old men with union representation. The mayors representative who as I understand hailed from Delaware (possibly township employees can’t afford to live in Cherry Hill) indicated that all employees suffered a 10% wage decrease including the mayor. While the guards respect this sacrifice it would suffice to say that no other group of employees was expexted to suffer a 32 -50% wage decrease and no one group of employees should be required to bare the weight. Perhaps there is someone reading who will also realize the injustice of this maneuver, and come forward to assist this group in negotiating a realistic compromise. One thing that is definate is that these individuals will still be there some with 40 or more years of dedication to the township.

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