NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – At Monday night’s meeting, the Borough Council passed a resolution appointing Heyer, Gruel and Associates, Inc. as the New Providence Borough Planner replacing Birdsall Services Group.

Late last year, borough officials learned Birdsall was under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office which ultimately led to indictments filed last week.

According to a report in the Star–Ledger, Birdsall’s assets were seized with several current and former executives and shareholders indicted for first-degree conspiracy and money laundering. The company is one of New Jersey’s largest and most influential engineering companies.

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“It was even worse than we expected,” Council President Michael Gennaro said.

For the past several months, the council has been active in soliciting and reviewing proposals for a new planner.  Nine proposals were considered which led to the selection of Heyer, Gruel and Associates, Gennaro said.  “You’ll be very impressed with their expertise,” he told fellow council members.

The Council approved five resolutions affecting community activities which were introduced by Councilman Bob Robinson. Total expenditures amount to about $25,000 but the councilman emphasized that the expenses were covered by participant’s fees and not taxpayer dollars.

Expenses include caps and shirts for baseball, softball and T-ball as well as referees.

Gennaro said that since coaches go through vigorous background checks he would expect the same for summer hires.

In other action, the council approved the introduction of the 2013 Municipal Operating Budget and established May 13 as the public hearing date. Gennaro said that prior to the hearing date, budget details would be available on the borough’s website.

Councilman Robert Munoz who serves as liaison to the Board of Education said the board approved a two percent increase in property taxes. He also noted that the per pupil cost was less than most neighboring communities and well under the state average.

Councilman Armand Galluccio reported on the remarkable efforts of Chris and Bill Ferdinand of Ferdinand Jewelers to bring cheer and pleasure to cancer patients by giving them sparkling jewels. Galluccio said over 10,000 bling gifts have been presented to hospitals since 2008.

Councilman Gary Kapner said the skies over New Providence will be bright on the evening of July 3 as Investors Bank, the New Providence Business and Professional Association and the Downtown Improvement District have joined forces to celebrate Independence Day with a fireworks extravaganza.  Investors Bank has been sponsoring the fireworks for the past several years and "has really stepped up to the plate," Kapner said.  "We really appreciate their support.  They are a true community partner."

Mayor J. Brooke Hern made several appointments to the Economic Development Committee.

Members include Mike Del Duca, Al Elephante, John Everitt, Nadine Geoffroy, Bill Hoefling, Ted Kapuscinski, John Keane, Andre Luboff, Jim Madden, Jimmy Vardas and Penny Vigilante.

“They will all play a very important part in our effort to expand economic development for existing businesses and attracting new businesses,” the mayor said.

Lastly, the newest member of the New Providence Police Department, Dispatcher Nicholas Guerriero, was introduced to the council by Police Chief Anthony Buccelli.