BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Township has moved one step closer to having a dedicated municipal services director, which would be separate from other positions.

The Bridgewater Township Council voted unanimously Jan. 30 to introduce an ordinance to establish a Director of Municipal Services. The public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 13.

According to the ordinance, it will rectify an ordinance that was originally ratified in 1992 to establish a Department of Municipal Services, but was never codified in the township.

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The new ordinance states that the town council wishes to "affirm the Department of Municipal Services in place of the Department of Planning and Engineering" and "desires to appoint a Director of the Department of Municipal Services to free up the time of the Township Engineer, to expedite the repairs and construction of Township roads."

The municipal services director is expected to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, and to have specialized training in municipal planning and administration to go along with a minimum of four years of substantial experience in public planning or urban renewal work. His or her past experience must also include a professional collegiate degree in engineering, and he or she must also be a licensed professional engineer and land surveyor in the state of New Jersey and demonstrate a minimum of five years of substantial supervisory responsibility in managing large scale engineering work in a municipality similar to Bridgewater in size.

The municipal services department will contain a division of engineering, to be managed by a township engineer who will oversee the efforts of the division on a daily basis. He or she will be in charge of engineering plans, plus the performance of other engineering work as not provided elsewhere in the town code.

Mayor Matthew Moench said at the meeting that the ordinance was one of the most important things being proposed, and that municipal services is the township’s largest department, encompassing engineering, planning and zoning, code enforcement, public works and more. He said the position of township engineer had previously been outsourced, and had also doubled in the past as municipal services director.

“There’s been a lot of concerns, having the positions combined,” said Moench.

He also said the township engineer oversaw the engineering staff, while also working with outside parties, and simply couldn’t do both jobs of town engineer coupled with municipal services director. He added that the township has an acting municipal services director at present, from Maser Consulting, but that that individual is not an engineer, and it is hoped to bring the position in-house.

“I think it’s important to effectively manage the department,” said Moench.

The ordinance would effectively create two positions, but Moench said he doesn’t expect it to have a negative effect on the budget.

Councilman Allen Kurdyla questioned having the position of township engineer and taking away the responsibilities, and if the new position would assume the same aspects. He said it is a question of funding and budget with the new position, and he believes Bridgewater had previously employed full-time engineers.

Moench replied that the salary of the municipal services director would be consistent “with other department heads,” although he didn’t have the specifics at that point. He also said another engineering position had been eliminated in the department, and he reiterated that he didn’t expect a significant impact on the budget.

“In the past we could have done this,” said Moench of splitting the two positions. “Historically, they’ve been combined.”

The council voted by a 5-0 margin to introduce the ordinance, and did the same with another ordinance that will amend the procedure for police officer promotions. The public hearing on that measure will also be held Feb. 13.

According to the council agenda, the ordinance is meant to "clarify the procedure for the conduct of oral interview ratings for the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant."

Oral interviews will be conducted with the 15 highest-scoring candidates for both ranks. The candidates will be rated or scored on four sections by four or five individual raters from the Bridgewater Police Department, which can include the chief of police, operations captain, administrative captain, administrative lieutenant and operations lieutenant.

Candidates will be also be judged based on supervisory review, service credit and education, in addition to the oral interviews.

The top five and 10 scoring candidates in each rank will be ultimately promoted to lieutenant or sergeant, respectively.