Madison Council Rescinds Resolution to Oust Borough Administrator

Assistant Borough Administrator Jim Burnet meets with a resident following the Wednesday evening special budget meeting of the Madison Council. Credits: Liz Keill
MADISON, NJ – Borough Administrator Raymond Codey, whose position was eliminated at the Feb. 27 council meeting, has been re-appointed following a resolution read by Borough Attorney Joseph Mezzacca. He said the previous action “was declared null and void.”
The council chamber, packed by borough residents, applauded the decision at the special budget meeting on March 21. Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto said she had met with Codey and they discussed other ways to find budget savings. Assistant Borough Administrator Jim Burnet will continue in his current position. The issue snowballed when Codey was dismissed as a cost saving measure at a public meeting. Several hundred residents turned out for the March 12 meeting, which was moved to the Presbyterian Church across the street because of the large crowd.
Resident Kay Reynolds said, however, that there should have been an apology from the council to the town and to Codey. “We had a crisis here and we expected more,” she said.
A council member did, however, make statements at the beginning of the meeting. Councilman Don Links said he regretted the personal attacks on council members and their families. “Give me facts. Don’t insult people,” he said.

Finance Chairman Robert Catalanello said, “The goal is to ensure that no one would leave Madison because they couldn’t afford it whether because of unemployment or a fixed income.”  He said the borough had spent recklessly from surplus over the years and that he had seen redundancy in the two top positions.
Recently elected Councilman Robert Landrigan, who is past president of the Rescue Squad, said, “I’m not happy with what happened in town.  It bothered me a lot and I want to make things right.” He said the way information was disseminated was not helpful. “This meeting should have been held a month ago.”
Carmela Vitale, also new to the council, said, “This past month has been an emotional roller coaster. We learned the right way and the wrong way to do something. You let us know how you feel.” She urged residents to offer suggestions and said the council should develop a strategic plan.   
Mayor Robert Conley reminded the public, “Your elected officials are human. We can make mistakes. We have listened and we want to take action to change things.” He noted the budget will be introduced at the Monday, March 26, meeting.
Assistant Administrator Burnet reviewed the savings secured during the lat four years through teamwork with Codey. That included $1.7 million in such areas a changing health insurance providers, creating the joint court, negotiating a new animal control contract, shared services in construction, health and tax assessor, labor settlement with the fire department and reduction of four administration positions.  Revenues would include electric utility contracts, the Green Village Road property sale and corporate retention and recruitment. The projected tax increase for 2012 is 2.61%.
Council President Tsukamoto urged the hiring of a purchasing officer.  “This is a critical position for bids, contracts and major purchasing,” she said.
During public comments, former Mayor Woody Kerkeslager thanked the council for keeping Codey as administrator. “It’s the most important job,” he said. “The administrator runs the borough seven days a week and his assistant has worked efficiently and effectively. It’s a great team.”

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