Minutes of the August 14, 2013 Meeting
Wednesday, October 2, 2013 • 9:47pm
Minutes of the August 14, 2013 Meeting of the Consolidation Study Commission
Scotch Hills Country Club
The meeting was called to order at 7:05. Mr. Parisi read the Open Public Meetings Act notice and called the roll. Those present were Dr. diBattista, Mr. Juckes, Mr. Molenaar, Mr. McCarey and Dr. Saltzman from Fanwood, and Ms. Dreikorn, Mr. Lange, Mr. Wiener and Mr. Parisi from Scotch Plains. Mr. Nagy and Ms. Hoynes, alternates from Fanwood, were also present. Mr. Thompson was absent. Mr. Arthur, alternate-designate from Scotch Plains was also present.
In addition Eugene McCarthy attended for the State Local Finance Board, a non-voting commission member.
Mr. Parisi administered the oath of office to Mr. Arthur and the Commission welcomed him as an alternate from Scotch Plains. Mr. Lange and Ms. Dreikorn moved and seconded approval of the July 10 meeting minutes, which were unanimously approved by those in attendance at the July meeting.
Mr. Parisi updated the Commission on discussions concerning the fiscal agent role, advising that he had not heard from Fanwood, and that Scotch Plains invited him to the council agenda session on July 16, at which he provided an update to the council and responded to questions. The mayor and council asked the new township manager to meet with Mr. Parisi about the Commission request. As of date that meeting has not occurred. The Commission then discussed next steps. Mr. Weiner asked if there were any alternatives to the commission performing the role itself should Scotch Plains turn it down. Ms. Dreikorn suggested the Commission offer to pay either municipality to take on the role. The Commission adopted that suggestion. Mr. Parisi then discussed the timeframe by which the issue needs to be resolved, pointing out that as of this meeting it need not be, but it may need to be by or near the date of the next meeting, given the role a fiscal agent would play in procurement compliance and the status of the RFP text that will be reported out later in this meeting. Mr. Weiner asked if perhaps the Commission should delay issuance of the RFP while merger of the police function remains pending. Consensus was that the Commission should not, given the timeframe to accomplish the study that Ms. Dreikorn and Mr. Juckes developed at the last meeting. Mr. McCarthy suggested that the Commission contact Union County to see if it may be willing to serve as fiscal agent. The Commission agreed.
Mr. Nagy asked whether Courage to Connect NJ is or should be associated with this issue. Mr. Parisi responded that CTCNJ did send an email to him offering a $5,000 contribution to the Commission’s work, with no conditions. He asked for Commission reaction to the offer. After discussion, Mr. Juckes moved to accept the offer provided it is unconditional and in writing, seconded by Dr. diBattista and unanimously approved. Mr. Parisi noted in response to Mr. Nagy’s question that CTCNJ did not offer to serve as fiscal agent.
Ms. Dreikorn then gave the RFP committee report. She described the issues addressed by the committee in adapting the Princeton RFP to the Commission’s use. Of particular note is that the draft RFP asks for proposals by November 1, so the RFP should be issued by no later than mid-September. Ms. Dreikorn then led a discussion of how to describe within the RFP the fact that funding will not be immediately available. Mr. Molenaar suggested that the RFP specifically state that the RFP responses will be used to procure funding. Dr. Saltzman then asked if the RFP language that seeks an implementation plan was necessary. After some discussion the Commission decided to remove that section but retain the sentence, pointed out by Mr. Juckes, that costs of implementation need to be evaluated as part of the study. Mr. McCarthy noted that the state has provided funds to cover 20% of implementation costs in the Princeton consolidation.
The Commission then discussed the RFP appendix that describes the municipalities. Mr. Molenaar suggested that the 2009 shared services report, mentioned elsewhere in the RFP, be used to describe the municipalities. The Commission agreed. A revised RFP draft will be discussed and voted upon at the next Commission meeting on September 11. Mr. McCarey then asked about possible vendors to whom the RFP would be sent. Mr. Parisi provided a list of such vendors to the Commission members, having received it from the state Department of Community Affairs. Ms. Hoynes then noted that Eleanor McGovern, Fanwood municipal clerk, provided a list of services currently shared by Fanwood with other governmental entities, not just Scotch Plains. The Commission reviewed the document and requested that a similar list be obtained from Scotch Plains. Ms. Hoynes volunteered to try to update the document by speaking with Ms. McGovern and officials from Scotch Plains.
Mr. Parisi thanked Ms. Dreikorn, Mr. Juckes, Mr. Nagy and Ms. Hoynes for their work on the RFP committee.
Mr. Lange then provided the funding committee report. He informed the Commission that the committee recently met and discussed various approaches to fundraising. It decided to try for both public and private funding. Mr. Lange noted that three private foundations were discussed, and he asked the Commission members to reach out to Board members of those foundations once the committee discovers those Board member identities. He also noted that Mr. Parisi and Dr. diBattista will write a letter to Governor Christie requesting public funding. Crowd sourcing was also mentioned. The committee did not think that was a good fit for public studies. The Commission then discussed funding in general. Mr. McCarthy suggested asking universities for funding. Mr. Parisi thanked Mr. Lange, Dr. Saltzman, Dr. diBattista and Mr. McCarey for serving on the funding committee.
Mr. Parisi provided an update on public outreach. At the Commission’s last meeting the Commission decided that Facebook and the blogs of the Patch and The Alternative Press should be sufficient as a substitute for a website and the attendant costs associated with the latter. Mr. Parisi informed the Commission that a Facebook page has been created and the Commission needs to decide who among them should be authorized to post on the page. Ms. Dreikorn and Mr. Juckes agreed to be the sole content creators for the page. The Commission approved. Mr. Parisi then informed the Commission that both the Patch and The Alternative Press had provided information about their blogs, so that the Commission minutes and agendas can be posted there, as those cannot be made available on Facebook. The Commission agreed to use both blogs and Mr. McCarey agreed to be the sole authorized Commission member to post on those blogs. The Commission approved. As a result of these actions the Commission also agreed that a website is not currently necessary. Mr. Parisi then discussed the possibility of streaming Commission meetings. After discussion, the Commission decided streaming was premature.
The meeting was then opened to the public. Carol Kraus from Fanwood mentioned that the possibility of a paid fire or rescue squad as an increased cost should be studied as a possible consequence of consolidation. Mr. Parisi said that topic must be addressed by the study consultant. Ms. Kraus further suggested that the two municipalities’ email contact lists could be used by the Commission as a means of communication to residents. Mr. Parisi thanked Ms. Kraus for her comments. There being no further public comment, that portion of the meeting was then closed.
There being no further business Dr. Saltzman and Mr. Juckes moved and seconded a motion to adjourn, unanimously approved. The meeting ended at 8:41 pm. The next Commission meeting is September 11, 2013 at 7 pm at the Board of Education offices.
The Commision was formed in June 2013. It is charged with overseeing a study, by an independent contractor, on the benefits and costs of consolidating Fanwood and Scotch Plains into one municipality without either losing its identity as a community.
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