Edison property taxes are going up again. Surprise! Our Town Council is ready to rubber stamp a $134 million municipal budget this Wednesday, ignoring my suggestion that could save over $2 million: Stop hiring expensive outside consultants.
The Lankey Administration cannot be bothered finding or hiring qualified, in-house professionals. The Mayor claims Edison “gets more bang for its buck” by outsourcing services, but he fails to say we get less accountability from consultants.
1. Edison no longer has its own Chief Financial Officer. Since 2015, Town Hall gave contracts totaling $545,000 to Government Strategy Group from New Providence. It also pays $600 monthly to a certified CFO from Secaucus. He rarely sets foot in Town Hall, but still manages to sign-off on all municipal expenses.
2. Edison has paid over $200,000 to a Lawrenceville affordable housing consultant. Then, last August, it awarded another $200,000 contract to a second affordable housing consultant, CGP&H from Cranbury. Duplication at double-the-cost?
3. Edison has paid over $200,000 to Heyer, Gruel & Associates from Red Bank as its planning and redevelopment consultant. Wouldn’t an in-house planner cost less?
4. Township Engineer Mark Kataryniak quit in April after only two years. So, Edison gave a $30,000, two-month contract to Maser Consulting from Red Bank, and it may extend that contract for a year, costing taxpayers $180,000.
5. Last August, Edison gave a $60,000 contract to Millennium Strategies from Caldwell to find more grant money, although the town already pays $65,000 to an in-house grant writer. How much more grant money did Town Hall get?
6. Edison pays $50,000-a-year to Jaffe Communications from Newark to write press releases making Town Hall look good. It seems fishy that Jaffe has never released anything about how much “more bang for its buck” Edison gets from these high-paid consultants.
If our Mayor and Council wants better press coverage, just do the right thing for taxpayers: Hire qualified, in-house professionals who are less expensive, more accessible and more accountable.
Editor's Note: Wayne Mascola is a candidate for Council in Edison. Also, in the interest of full transparency, Jonathan Jaffe, principal at Jaffe Communications, is an owner of the TAPinto franchise for New Brunswick, New Jersey.