GARWOOD, NJ - Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr joined Garwood Mayor Charles Lombardo and other council members for an informational session regarding shared services for the towns' Department of Public Works.
By using shared services, Garwood would eliminate its DPW superintendent, Fred Corbitt, and replace the role with Fanwood’s supervisor Clint Dicksen, who has already held the position in both towns.
Marc Pfeiffer, Assistant Director of Local Government Search at Rutgers Bloustein School, joined the council in an effort to explain the benefits of shared services.
“It’s important to realize that shared services is a tool,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s a tool that’s available to local governments, counties, municipalities, and local authorities to take advantage of resources that other entities have. It needs to be done in a way that is mutually beneficial to everybody.”
The meeting was held in front of a standing-room only crowd that largely opposed the new plan, as attendees took advantage of the questions and comments section to defend Corbitt, calling the proposal “despicable.”
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr advocated the benefits of the new plan to Garwood residents, comparing the similar features of both towns.
“We’re basically the same size. We’re safe, quiet, stable communities that are made up of primarily single family homes,” Mahr said. “Our municipal budgets are basically borne on the backs of the property taxpayers because Fanwood, like Garwood, does not have a large ratable base. We don’t have Rt. 22, we don’t have any major huge employer.”
Although some Garwood residents admitted they were initially supportive of the plan, a majority of the residents voiced their opinions on Fanwood’s policies and asked how much money would be saved in the process.
“To save $70,000 in operating budget equates to approximately $35 on the average home,” Councilwoman Sara Todisco replied. “Now, we’re also talking about saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital items as well."
Meanwhile, Garwood Republican Club has issued a petition to remove the proposal from consideration.
"I am hopeful that Garwood will have the votes for shared services," Mahr told TAP into SPF.