Roxbury's Raths Warns Against Manager Self-Centeredness

Christopher Raths Credits: Christopher Raths

ROXBURY, N.J. - Municipal managers should spend less time worrying about matters that concern  themselves and focus more on the things that are meaningful to the people they serve, says Roxbury Manager Christopher Raths. 

Raths stated his position in an essay published in this month's copy of New Jersey Municipal Management Association News. Raths is treasurer of the group, known as the NJMMA. Municipal managers, such as Raths, are paid professionals hired by elected officials to run municipalities.

He titled his piece "Citizens Above Self," and it came with a disclaimer that advised "the opinions expressed in this article … are solely those of the author. They are meant to stimulate discussion and assist the Executive Board when evaluating potential policy decisions." 

Sign Up for E-News

Raths, a member of the Roxbury Rotary Club, opened his piece by informing his readers he's a Rotarian and noting the Rotary's motto is "Service Above Self." He said that, as a member of Rotary he has "taken the liberty to revise that motto," for his essay, to "Citizen Above Self." 

He then went on to gently criticize the NJMMA for too often focusing its energy on things that, while important to town managers, tend to divert their attention away from items more pressing to taxpayers in their towns. 

"Over the past 30 years as a manager, I have observed many instances when perpetuating the municipal institution has superseded providing core services to our customers, the citizens," wrote Raths, who recently announced he will be retiring from his $160,000-per-year position in the spring. 

He cited NJMMA concerns about "the latest union grievance, a new payroll system, police department vehicle types or that the New Jersey pension system is in serious disarray." He contended "most citizens do not care about" those items. 

Raths asserted municipal managers would be better served by considering the day-to-day issues and problems that directly impact people in town.

"The majority of residents worry about their families, jobs and personal issues far beyond their concerns for the municipality," he wrote. "That is, unless they hit a pothole, drove on unplowed streets, feel unsafe in their neighborhood or school or just received their tax bill." 

Acknowledging the importance of NJMMA members paying attention to the municipal organization and their employees, Raths nevertheless suggested "it is imperative that we focus on the communal good rather than personal issues."

He pointed out that the NJMMA "has spent a great deal of time focusing on the deplorable condition of the state's pension fund" but less time "on the deplorable condition of the Transportation Trust Fund." However, to residents, the Transportation Trust Fund is something that truly hits home, Raths asserted.

"The infrastructure is the backbone of any strong society and it is crumbling," he wrote. "The Society of Engineers recently gave the State of New Jersey infrastructure a "D" rating." 

Failing to figure out a way to pay for maintenance and improvement of New Jersey's roads, bridges and other infrastructure "will lead to the demise of any competitive economic advantage  New Jersey maintains over other states," Raths warned. 

He urged his NJMMA associates to form a "united position" with regard to figuring out a way to solve the infrastructure funding problem, noting that they "as professional managers, have the expertise and experience in financing and budgeting for capital items" that makes them especially qualified to "devise and promote a more public position and the fair and appropriate way to finance" saving the infrastructure. 

The bottom line of Rath's essay: Municipal managers should brainstorm and then reach out to elected officials to "develop support" for their plans to solve the problem. He conceded that doing so will not be easy.

"Such effort and positioning will be far better received by our customers/citizens than the continued effort to save our own pensions," Raths wrote. He asserted that residents "are more concerned if a bridge collapses than if our pension or retirement health benefits are changed and, therefore, my strong opinion is we reconsider our focus to community issues and away from individual concerns." 

At a recent meeting of the Roxbury Mayor and Council, Raths was praised for his essay by Roxbury Mayor Jim Rilee. The manager responded that his position was not as warmly received by his NJMMA colleagues.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Mon, February 19, 6:00 AM

Roxbury Diner, Succasunna

Dine and Donate at Roxbury Diner for Project ...

Food & Drink Giving Back


Fri, February 23, 4:00 PM

Eisenhower Middle School, Succasunna

Gaelvision’s Fish & Chips Dinner

Food & Drink


Fri, February 23, 4:30 PM

Roxbury Fire Co. #1 Firehouse, Succasunna

Argyle Fish & Chips Dinner

Food & Drink Giving Back

Tue, February 27, 11:00 AM

Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna

Roxbury Area Preschool Fair




AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link:

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!


Sponsors of Roxbury's Best Journalism

Getting it Right From the Start; Roxbury Realtor Bob Idakaar

ROXBURY, NJ – Twenty years ago this month, Bob Idakaar experienced an unprofessional real estate agent. That’s when he decided to be a good one.

Idakaar, a lifelong Succasunna resident and TAPinto Roxbury sponsor, bought his fifth home in July 1997. A big event, one that could have been joyous, ended up being stressful and unenjoyable.

“I had a bad experience,” he ...

Roxbury Diner: Homespun Hospitality Through Thick and Thin

ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury was being buried in snow March 14 and most businesses were closed. Not Roxbury Diner.

Roxbury Diner isn’t like most businesses.For co-owner Jimmy Dontas, a snowstorm – even a blizzard – isn’t a reason to suspend operations. Instead, it’s a call to action.

To many in town, Roxbury Diner – a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor – is ...

It Began With Filling Your Tank; Now They Fix Your Grandson’s Car

When we drive east on Route 10 through Roxbury, many of us might remember a Shell station at the Randolph border next to the golf range. It was in that station that Nancy and Peyton Knight began their long history of auto repair in the township.

That was 1983 and soon the Knights’ business grew and expanded. The humble gas station gradually morphed into a state-of-the-art ...

Orthopedic Urgent Care in Roxbury - Open Late and on Weekends

ROXBURY, NJ – It’s a pleasant Sunday morning, you’re playing volleyball in the back yard with the kids and – forgetting you’re not 17 anymore – you jump up to smack that ball.

Instead of feeling the satisfaction of an unanswered spike, you feel the stinging pain of a wounded ankle.

The only good thing about this scenario is that you live in Roxbury. That ...

Love of His Hometown Drives Roxbury Realtor Ted Miller II

ROXBURY, N.J. – Most local real estate agents can tell you what houses are for sale in Roxbury. Ted Miller can probably tell you what was there before the houses were built. 

Miller, a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor, grew up in the township and has watched it change from bucolic to bustling. The son of a local Realtor, ...

Three Sons at His Side, John Klein Makes Plumbing a Family Affair

ROXBURY, N.J. - Running water and a warm house during winter months are some of the most important amenities we enjoy -- and often take for granted -- in our homes.

With John Klein Plumbing & Heating, a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor, residents of Roxbury (and beyond) have a father-and-sons company they count on for reliable plumbing and heating services to keep the ...

Letters to TAPinto Roxbury

Roxbury Library Blood Drive Will Help 111 People

January 31, 2018

Dear Editor,

On Jan. 17, the Roxbury Public Library held its first American Red Cross blood drive. Despite snow and less than ideal driving conditions, dozens of area residents showed up to donate blood, nearly doubling the Red Cross' quota for the day! 

The drive was held in honor of local resident, Matt Adonis. Having a blood rive in his honor was a lovely way to bring awareness ...

Three from Roxbury Area Make James Madison Dean's List

February 19, 2018

HARRISONBURG, VA -- James Madison University is pleased to announce the following students made the dean's list for the fall 2017 semester:

Jordan Israel Taylor of Flanders .

Nicolette Thorkildsen of Flanders .

Olivia J Viparina of Ledgewood .

Students who earn dean's list honors must carry at least 12 graded credit hours and earn a GPA of between 3.5 and 3.899.

Totaro Makes Hofstra Dean's List

HEMPSTEAD, NY -- Julia Totaro of Mt. Arlington excelled during the Fall 2017 semester, achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 to earn a spot on the Hofstra University Dean's List.

Roxbury Area Students Named to the Marist College Dean's List

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY -- The following local students have been named to the Marist College Dean's List for the Fall 2017 semester:

Mariah Christian of Flanders is a member of the Class of 2018 and is majoring in Communication.

Jenna Ficula of Flanders is a member of the Class of 2019 and is majoring in Computer Science.

Erika Hofgesang of Kenvil, is a member of the Class of ...

Roxbury Area Students Make Clemson Lists

CLEMSON, SC - Kristin Elizabeth Agosta of Flanders has been named to the President's List at Clemson University for the fall 2017 semester and three other area students were named to the Dean's List.

Agosta is majoring in Accounting.

To be named to the President's List, a student must achieve a 4.0 (all As) grade-point average.

The three Roxbury ...

Roxbury Area Students Make Seton Hall Dean's List

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Nineteen Seton Hall University students from the Roxbury area qualified for the Fall 2017 dean's list, according to the university. The students are:

Siddharth Bector of Flanders 

Nicholas Czipo of Wharton 

Gabriella DePiano of Ledgewood

Darrelle Dilangalen of Succasunna

Katherine Dolan of Flanders 

Kimberly Gong of Kenvil

Edward Guenzel ...

Roxbury's Sarah Derrick Makes Susquehanna Dean's List

SELINSGROVE, PA - Sarah Derrick of Roxbury was named to Susquehanna University's dean's list for the Fall 2017 semester.

The dean's list recognizes students who achieve a grade point average of 3.4 or higher out of a possible 4.0 for the semester. To qualify, students must complete a minimum of 12 semester hours.

Derrick, a business administration major, is a 2014 ...

Press Releases

Assistance Programs Available for JCP&L Customers to Help with Winter Heating Bills

February 13, 2018

MORRISTOWN,NJ - As the cold weather continues, financial assistance programs are available for Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) customers who need help with winter heating bills.

Assistance to qualifying JCP&L customers is available through the Lifeline, Universal Service Fund (USF), Weatherization, Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE) and New Jersey SHARES ... Named Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - has been named Partner of the Year by NJ News Commons, a network of more than 230 news organizations across New Jersey.  The award goes to a journalist or news organization that showed overall excellence in their work for 2017.    

Joe Amditis, Associate Director of the Center for Cooperative Media, said TAPinto won the award ...