Court: N.J. state troopers are not entitled to free tolls

 File photo of the toll booth entrance to the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 9 in East Brunswick, N.J., Wednesday, April 24, 2002. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

File photo of the toll booth entrance to the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 9 in East Brunswick, N.J., Wednesday, April 24, 2002. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)

The New Jersey State Police don’t have to reimburse its troopers for tolls they pay during their off-duty commute to and from work, an appellate court ruled.

The decision, issued Thursday, found an arbitrator was mistaken in declaring the practice “an established term and condition” of employment.

The case came about after authorities ended a yearslong practice in which troopers and other state employees were allowed to skip tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and some other major roadways.

The toll perk was revoked in November 2010. When state police refused to cover the troopers’ tolls, the State Troopers Fraternal Association filed a grievance that claimed the division had violated their collective bargaining agreement.

According to court documents, state police had agreed to a “mileage allowance” for troopers. But the division said it shouldn’t be held responsible for elimination of the free tolls because it was provided by the transit authorities.

The arbitrator found the toll perk was a negotiable benefit and an established “past practice.” But the appellate court ruled the arbitrator “exceeded his authority and made a mistake of law.”

The New Jersey attorney general’s office, which represented state police, declined to comment.

An attorney for the troopers union could not be reached for comment.

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