Republican Passaic County freeholder candidates Robert Ceberio and Frank Fusco today criticized Sheriff Richard Berdnik for hiring retired Undersheriff Charles Meyers to an $81,000 position in the sheriff’s department while Meyers collects a $97,000 yearly pension.
Retired for just two months, Meyers was the second retiree hired by Berdnik for the newly created job of business administrator for the department.
“These hires smack of insider favoritism and are an insult to the taxpayers of Passaic County who are struggling to keep their jobs and their homes,” said Ceberio, who added up the combined income to $177,000 – more than the salary of Gov. Chris Christie.
“Mr. Meyers now joins a growing list of opportunistic people parlaying their political connections to collect a very generous pension and a significant salary,” Ceberio added. “It is simply piggish. It sends the wrong signal to taxpayers who are fed up with watching the politically connected walk away with more and more of their tax dollars.”
“The state is in a fiscal crisis largely because of abuses of the pension system. The hire by Sheriff Berdnik demonstrates that he has no concern for the taxpayers and is fully engaged in political cronyism,” said Fusco.
Noting that the sheriff is an independent constitutional officer, incumbent Freeholder Bruce James said the Republicans are grasping for an issue as they try to pry their way into a contest.
“They didn’t have a big problem with it when (former Bergen County Clerk turned County Executive) Kathe Donovan retired and collected a salary,” said the incumbent Democrat.
“If it’s saving the county money and cheaper to hire a retired undersheriff, I’m in favor of giving Rich the benefit of the doubt,” the freeholder added. “Rich is a professional; I have no reason not to believe him at this point. If he needs pros there, he deserves to tap into their expertise.”