Police administration agreed to give up its yearly incentives and some health care. The township also reduced the Water and Sewer Department surplus by about $40,000 and tacked that on to the Police Department cuts, bringing the departmentwide reduction to $427,000.
But after one committee member proposed applying an additional $60,000 in Water and Sewer surplus to the police reduction and the committee still voted for the layoffs, police administrators and union officials excoriated the committee for not considering the alternative.
"I think it's a disgrace you didn't look into that," Lt. Charles Barone said. "How could you still act on that? It's unconscionable."
Mayor Fred Grant responded: "I won't support it. We just raised water rates."
Grant said he plans to introduce a balanced budget next week, a prospect that once seemed far-fetched considering the committee's fraught negotiations with the police union. The union had resisted layoffs for months, saying it had not yet been advised by an independent financial auditor.
But it became increasingly clear that layoffs were a necessary part of the equation: The committee had tabled resolutions to lay off five full-time officers at its last two meetings.
Grant has sought 20 percent across-the-board budget cuts from each municipal department since December to close the township's $600,000 shortfall, which he has attributed to reduced state aid and lost revenue from construction code fees and slowed growth. The committee is still a little short, and Grant said he would introduce a resolution next week to impose eight furlough days on each municipal employee, among other cost-saving measures.
Grant, a Democrat, blamed the two Republican committeemen and another Democrat for stalling the layoffs in January. When the committee reorganized that month, Grant removed a part-time officer's name from the annual reappointment list, causing some members to vote unknowingly to lay him off.
That officer had arrested Grant in July on drunken-driving and speeding charges, leading to accusations from police and some residents of retaliation. The charges are still pending.
The Township Committee later reversed the layoff. The officer resigned last month.
Committeeman Sam Giordano, a Democrat who opposed the original layoff measure, said Wednesday, "If we want to start pointing fingers, let's talk about the legal fees" that stemmed from the reorganization meeting.
After the meeting, one resident maintained that Grant should not have voted on the layoff resolutions, calling it a conflict of interest. Last month, Grant recused himself from voting on the measure to lay off the officer who arrested him.
"How are we to trust that he is protecting the police when he failed a Breathalyzer?" Michael Skowronski, 37, said in an interview. "Why would he save a police department that busted him?"
Contact Andrew Seidman at 856-779-3846, email@example.com or @AndrewSeidman on Twitter.