NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Keeping a city operating and meeting all its obligations requires hiring many outside companies including lawyers, software maintenance firms, and even veterinarians.

This week, as part of the routine, to get the new year underway, city council members approved a slew of professional agreement contracts, spending $8,456,000 in tax dollars to get those services.

Among the items council members approved was a $225,000 contract with Mott McDonald Group Inc., of the Iselin section of Woodbridge, which will provide support services for the city water utility. Council also approved and  $112,000 contract with Insyne Municipal Systems of Bergenfield for computer software maintenance and support.

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The city hired two law firms to handle appeals of tax bills, with Hoagland, Longo,Moran Dunst & Doukas in downtown New Brunswick receiving a $50,000 agreement, and DiFranceso, Bateman, Kunzman, Davis Lehrer & Flaum of Warren awarded a $12,500 to handle any appeals where might be conflict of interest with the first firm.

Another $141,240 contract was awarded to Samuel Klein and Company of Newark to perform state-required municipal auditing. Separately the council approved spending $52,200 for maintenance and support of the software program for the city Division of Assessments, with the contract going to Spatial Data Logic, Inc., of Somerset.

Another $30,000 approved to hire a property appraiser that will assist the city in tax appeals, and $44,000 was spent to hire the Robert Wood Johnson Physicians Enterprise in South Bound Brook to provide pre-employment examinations for prospective employees, and to verify illnesses or injuries.

The council approved paying $22,500 to hire a firm to provide support for tax assessment computer programs and technical support for associated printing, building and mailing services.

Each of these contracts was approved in a separate resolution, along with several other professional service agreements. As is done at each council meeting, all of the resolutions are approved in a single "consensus" vote. Instead of a vote on each resolution, the council members vote on all the resolutions at once. It is a practice commonly used in municipal and county government.

All of the agreements, according to the resolutions, are done in accordance with state regulations and the requirements of fair and open contact statues.

And among the other contracts approved at the council meeting was an $8,900 agreement with Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital to perform the necessary services for Odin and Moose, the city's two city police dogs.