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Livingston Council Addresses Issue to In-House LMAC Position and DPW Property Ordinance

Eric Paragallo

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 • 8:01am

LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee (LMAC), a charity organization whose mission is to prevent illegal usages of drugs and alcohol in the community, addressed the town council Monday night, Sept. 16, asking for permission to give the position of Alliance Coordinator to an existing member of the LMAC rather than handing the duties over to an in-house town employee.

Debbie Linder of the LMAC argued that bringing the position in-house would be a conflict of interest between the interests of the town and the interests of the LMAC.  “If I’m working for the town my allegiance would be to the town and not to the committee,” said Linder.

The LMAC also believed that the duties of the alliance coordinator would be too much to handle for an existing employee of the town who already has other responsibilities. “[Alliance Coordinator] is really a full time job,” said LACM member Joyce Gore. “It’s not something, I believe, that one person with the town that already has a number of jobs can just assume with a little pocket of their time. [The Alliance coordinator position] takes a lot of time; it takes a lot of effort.”

There was some argument between members of the council weather the LMAC’s arguments held merit. Council Member Deborah Shapiro agreed that work load would be too much to fill in house. Township Manager Michael Meade, however, stated that she had confidence that someone already employed by the government could fill the Alliance Coordinator role.

Meade also suggested that the $20,000 used to pay a private contractor could be used to invest in other programs.   

Linder opposes this proposition, stating that, for the LMAC, losing their independent alliance coordinator would be like “a company running without a president.”

The council and the LMAC could not come to a decision and agreed to move forward with the issue at the council’s next meeting on Oct. 16.

Also addressed at Monday night’s meeting was whether or not to move forward on the decision to vote on the construction of a new Department of Public Works building.

Shapiro stated that she is “violently opposed” to leaving the bond ordinance open. “I don’t want anyone sitting out there thinking that because this bond issue is still open that were still gonna be buying the property.”

Mayor Rudy Fernandez said that the issue was being left open so that the town would not lose the property, and could vote on whether or not to buy the property at a later date. “We wanted to move forward with it so that if we wanted to build a new DPW, we’d have the property. We’ve been talking about acquiring a property and…moving on it, sooner rather than later, in case the property wasn’t available anymore.”

Fernandez also added that leaving the bond ordinance open was a non-issue as other investors could still buy the property.

Shapiro, however, said that leaving the ordinance open was unfair to the current owner of the property. “The message that we’re sending is that were keeping this open so that we can continue to purchase the property,” Shapiro said. She stated she did not believe that the property owner would sell to other investors if the current ordinance with the Livingston council was not closed.

Meade said that if the council chooses not to move the current DPW the potential is high that they will have to invest money in the current DPW property. She estimated that investment in the current DPW would cost “roughly the same amount of money” as moving the department to the new location.

The discussion was not resolved. The council neither voted on the issue, nor voted to address the issue next meeting.

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