Minutes of the July 10, 2013 Consolidation Study Meeting

Minutes of the July 10, 2013 Meeting of the Consolidation Study Commission

The meeting was called to order at 7:07. Mr. Parisi read the Open Public Meetings Act notice and called the roll. Those present were Mr. Juckes, Mr. Molenaar and Mr. McCarey from Fanwood, and Ms. Dreikorn, Mr. Lange, Mr. Wiener and Mr. Parisi from Scotch Plains. Mr. Nagy and Ms. Hoynes, alternates from Fanwood, were also present. Dr. Saltzman, Dr. diBattista and Mr. Thompson were absent, as was Mr. Arthur, alternate from Scotch Plains.

In addition Eugene McCarthy attended for the State Local Finance Board, a non-voting commission member.

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Mr. Parisi announced that Mr. Arthur was unable to attend due to a death in his family so the oath will be administered to him at the August meeting. Mr. Lange and Ms. Dreikorn moved and seconded approval of the June 12 meeting minutes, which were unanimously approved.

Mr. Juckes moved to adopt the bylaws as circulated, revised as a result of discussion at the June 12 meeting. Mr. McCarey seconded and the motion was unanimously approved. Mr. Parisi then noted that since the bylaws were adopted and two commission members were absent, Ms. Hoynes and Mr. Nagy would be permitted to vote at this meeting as alternates for Dr. Saltzman and Dr. diBattista, respectively. The position of alternate to Mr. Thompson and Mr. Wiener is vacant, so there would be no one voting at this meeting as alternate for Mr. Thompson.

Mr. Parisi provided an update to the Commission concerning the requests to the municipalities to serve as fiscal agent for the Commission. At its June 12 meeting the Commission agreed to ask the municipalities if either would be willing to act as fiscal agent and suggested that Mr. Parisi as chairperson make the inquiries. Mr. Parisi reported that he had done so, had not heard from Fanwood, but had heard from Scotch Plains that the matter would be discussed at the Council meeting on July 16th and Mr. Parisi was invited to attend and speak to the issue. He acknowledged that he would do so. 

The Commission then discussed the joint issues of developing a Request for Proposals (RFP), seeking the services of a consultant to perform a consolidation study and the funding necessary to pay for those services. Mr. Parisi informed the Commission that he had asked Mr. Juckes and Ms. Dreikorn to give some thought to the best process for issuing the RFP and they had done so. Ms. Dreikorn then presented a draft timeline to the Commission, working backward from September 2015, describing the necessary steps to be accomplished in order for the Commission to make an informed decision about consolidation. Mr. McCarthy mentioned that the timeline needed to account for state review and the process for getting a question on the ballot, should the Commission recommend consolidation after the study was completed. After much discussion the Commission decided that the timeline provided a useful guide to the Commission and decided not to alter it. It was not adopted, but instead is intended to be used as a guide.

The Commission then considered the merits of using the Princeton RFP as a template for developing the Commission’s RFP. Various members pointed out some differences between this Commission’s approach and that used by Princeton. The Commission agreed to form a committee to meet separately and draft the RFP for presentation at the August 14 Commission meeting. Mr. Juckes, Ms. Dreikorn, Ms. Hoynes, Mr. Nagy and Mr. Parisi volunteered to serve on that committee.

On the issue of funding, the Commission questioned Mr. McCarthy about availability of state funds. Mr. McCarthy said that the SHARE program is unfunded so it would be a waste of the Commission’s valuable time to apply for SHARE grants. He recommended crowd funding through internet solicitations. The Commission agreed to form a committee to begin the process of obtaining funds, understanding that no funds would likely be committed until consultants responded to the RFP and an approximate cost could be determined. Mr. Lange and Mr. McCarey volunteered to serve on that committee with Mr. Parisi. Mr. Parisi then stated that he would ask Dr. diBattista and Dr. Saltzman if either would also like to serve on that committee.

Ms. Hoynes moved to approve the Courier News and the Westfield Leader/Scotch Plains Fanwood Times as newspapers of record for noticing purposes. Mr. Juckes seconded the motion. Mr. Lange mentioned that he would like to use the Patch and Alternative Press and the Commission agreed to also use those outlets, without establishing them of record. The motion as originally presented was passed unanimously.

Mr. Parisi asked for input on public outreach, through social media and a website. The Commission agreed that a Facebook page would be helpful. It then discussed whether a website would be necessary to attach minutes and agendas, since those cannot be attached on Facebook. The reporters from the Alternative Press and the Patch mentioned that each has a free blog function open to the public that can meet the Commission’s need. The Commission members agreed to look into that further as a substitute for a website. Mr. McCarthy mentioned that the Princetons requested in their RFP that part of the consultant’s website be used for Commission purposes and in fact it was so used.

The meeting was then opened to the public. No members of the public wished to speak. That portion of the meeting was then closed.

There being no further business Mr. Nagy and Mr. Juckes moved and seconded a motion to adjourn, unanimously approved. The meeting ended at 8:05 pm. The next Commission meeting is August 14, 2013 at 7 pm in the Tucker Room at Scotch Hills.

The Commision was formed in June 2013. It is charged with overseeing a study, by an independent contractor, on the benefits and costs of consolidating Fanwood and Scotch Plains into one municipality without either losing its identity as a community.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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