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Montville to Revisit 2 Appointments

The town's bond counsel and water and sewer consultant were appointed for 90 days by a 3-2 vote.

The Township Committee will revisit two of Montville's professional services agreements after 90 days because they deal with ongoing issues of concern for the governing body and some committee members said the town's new chief financial officer should have a chance to offer her input on which businesses get the contracts.

The approved by a 3-2 vote 90-day agreements with bond counsel McManimon & Scotland LLC and with Water & Sewer Department consulting engineer Anderson & Denzler Associates. Both businesses provided services to the town last year.

Mayor Tim Braden and Committeewoman Deb Nielson voted against the 90-day periods, saying the Township Committee should have approved the agreements for a full year because there is not enough time to solicit proposals from other businesses and changing the appointments would be disruptive at a time when the town already has a new CFO, an interim administrator and an ongoing search to decide who the permanent administrator will be.

Committeeman Scott Gallopo proposed the 90-day appointments, saying he would have implemented the 90-day period for all appointments until the town received input from the CFO, but settled on those two appointments in particular. Deputy Mayor Don Kostka and Committeeman Jim Sandham voted in agreement.

"I don't want to bind this committee," Gallopo said.

Gallopo and other committee members have raised concerns with and the fact that the surplus wasn't addressed in 2011. Gallopo also has said he is concerned with a bond ordinance for a project designed to bring Plausha Park water system customers into the township's water system. All bids for the water project were in excess of the amount approved in the bond ordinance.

Montville's appointments were the same as the previous year, with the exception of CFO Katie Yanke serving as public agency compliance officer this year instead of Robert Lowenfish, who served in that role last year when he was the town's interim director of finance as it searched for a permanent CFO.

Agreements and Appointments Approved at the Reorganization Meeting:

  1. Resolution Authorizing Professional Services Agreements:
    • Attorney – Murphy & McKeon, P.C. (Martin F. Murphy, Attorney)
    • Labor Counsel – Knapp, Trimboli & Prusinowski, LLC (Fredric M. Knapp, Esq.)
    • Auditor – Lerch, Vinci & Higgins (Gary J. Vinci, Auditor)
    • Bond Counsel – McManimon & Scotland, LLC (Edward J. McManimon, III, Attorney)
    • Water & Sewer Department Consulting Engineer – Anderson & Denzler Associates
  2. Appointment of Municipal Judge, Three year term – Joseph Deming, Esq.
  3. Appointment of Municipal Prosecutor, One year term – Daniel Danzi, Esq.
  4. Appointment of Special Municipal Prosecutor, One year term – Denis Driscoll, Esq.
  5. Appointment of Municipal Public Defender, One year term – David Amadio, Esq.
  6. Appointment of Tax Searcher, Christine Corcoran; and Improvement Searcher, Gertrude Atkinson
  7. Appointment of Public Agency Compliance Officer – Katie Yanke
  8. Appointment of Qualified Purchasing Agent – Frances L. Vanderhoof
Scott Gallopo January 04, 2012 at 02:51 PM
For the sake of clarity, 90 day appointments are really 90 day contract extensions. Rather than locking Montville into a one year contract with these professionals, I prefer 90 day extensions to review the quality of service we are currently receiving and also to identify alternatives. Even if we choose to reappoint for the balance of the full year after the 90 day period, we will have gone through the RFP process and identified replacements for either next year or the year after. In essences, we now have free "options" - the current professionals will provide their services during the 90 day period and can still be reappointed for a full term in 2012, or we can hire other firms without a disruption of service during that 90 day period. Given the circumstances, the responsible decision that best represents the Montville taxpayers was to establish these options via the 90 day extensions. I was also in favor of a 90 day extension for our Legal Counsel.
Dan Pagano January 05, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Thank-you Scott G. for your willingness to hold the professionals hired by the township accountable for the quality of service they provide. The time has come for individuals in government, and the businesses who provide services to government to be held to the same standard as those in the private sector. Even if the TC decides to extend the appointment for the full year the message is clear; do your job, do it well, own your mistakes or you will be replaced. I am also thankful Don and Jim understand the effectiveness of this action.
Dan Grant January 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I happened to agree with Mr. Gallopo on this issue and passed such a resolution in my tenure. We also changed Township legal representation 4 times over 15 years. There is no better accountability for Professionals then the fear of losing their positions and they should never feel comfortable enough to take their jobs lightly. That goes for all the Professional Contracts even on boards and commissions. It shouldn't be lost however by the public that these positions are political plums and pretty well paid at that. All outside sevices should be bid or at lease compared through an RFP. We even did it for Banking services and through that got the Township a better deal when BofA came in with a much better proposal than Lakeland Bank. In my belief we stayed with Lakeland for political reasons but the competition alone forced Lakeland to give the Township a better cost and return and saved the taxpayers money.
Truscha Quatrone January 05, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Can someone tell if the appointment of Improvement searcher is a paid position? Trudy Atkinson is the township Administrator. One would hope that the six figure income she is making takes up all of her day time responsibilities. Is the Qualified purchasing agent position also a paid position? Didn't our township just retire Ms Vanderhoof after 30 years of employment a little over a year ago? I thought if you were receiving a pension you could not work for the same governing body. Perhaps I have that wrong about that. Could we find a candidate who is younger and needed the job more. The nepotism is Montville is over reaching.
Dave F January 06, 2012 at 09:01 PM
HUH? Trudy is the Township Clerk, according the the municipal website. Frank Bastone was the Township Administrator. Their salaries, and the salaries of all municipal employees can be found on this website : http://www.nj.com/news/bythenumbers/ I typically use the municipal website, the nj.com website and good 'ole Google to get my information. You should try it sometime....
Jake Remaly (Editor) January 06, 2012 at 10:01 PM
The improvement searcher role is basically part of the township clerk's job description. There is no separate pay. For those who might not know (I didn't), the improvement searcher is responsible for letting property owners—if they request it—know if there are any projects in the works that could affect their property assessments. No one has requested an improvement search in the last three years. There is a fee to have one done. (This is all according to Trudy Atkinson.) In 2011, the salary for Ms. Vanderhoof's CFO/Qualified Purchasing Agent position was $2,500. My understanding is she temporarily was/is taking care of certain things because she has necessary certifications until the new CFO gets the required certifications from the state.
Truscha Quatrone January 07, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Thank you Jake for answering my question about the two appointment positions. BTW the information about these appointments are not on the website.
Dave F January 07, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Agreed. Thank's Jake - that info is not readily available unless you go directly to town hall with the question, or ask the question at a township committee meeting.
Truscha Quatrone January 08, 2012 at 06:37 PM
See answer to my inquiry Re: gov retirees collecting a pension & working Statement is from the NJ state Pension & Benefits Admin Manual Other situations where a retirement may not be considered “bona fide” include, not limited to, the following examples: If you make arrangements prior to your retirement to return to the same or similar public employment as a regular employee, contract employee, leased employee, or an independent contractor, the employer/employee relationship has not been completely severed regardless of the length of any break in employment and your retirement will be determined to be invalid. In this case you will remain an active employee under your PERS account while in the new position. If you are re-employed or appointed by the same employer to the same or a similar position that would have qualified for continued membership in the retirement system had the retirement not occurred, this may indicate that the employer/employee relationship has not been completely severed and, therefore, your retirement may be determined to be invalid. In this case you will remain an active employee under your PERS account while in the new position. If your retirement is determined to be invalid (not “bona fide”), you will be required to reimburse the retirement system for the amount of any retirement benefits you receive from the date of retirement and be required to pay pension contributions in the form of back deductions going back to the reenrollment date.
Dave F January 10, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Truscha - I could be wrong, but I do not think that having her "sign off" on documents using her CMFO qualification qualifies as "same or similar" public employment (sounds like a notary public sort of arrangement). Quite frankly, I think we are lucky that she was there to fill the gap (CMFO distinction) while the they looked for a suitable replacement. Good question for the TC at their next meeting. DF
jf February 24, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I need to stop subscribing to this newsletter because the more I know the more violently ill I get. So we are paying our new CFO a nearly 6 figure salary which is well above what was originally budgeted for the position and she still doesn't have the proper certifications to do the job???? And isn't there something questionable about having someone fulfill the formality of "signing off" on contracts/purchases? A signature usually implies that a thorough review has ocurred and a contract is ready for implementation - at least that's the way it works in the private sector.

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