Spirited Council Discussions Continue

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SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Appreciation for everyone who assisted during the snow storm, suggested abnormalities regarding external vendor bidding and a spirited discussion regarding Council procedure grabbed attention at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

Mayor Kevin Glover publically thanked the Department of Public Works, the Police Department, Fire Department and the Rescue Squad for all their work and support during the recent snow storm.

“I have had many notes of appreciation from residents and everyone deserves a big thank you for a job well done,” said Glover.

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The questions of the process used to appoint new vendors in general and the health insurance providers in specific created a heated discussion between Councilman Bo Vastine and Glover.

From the mayor’s point of view, he felt that the process was appropriate and was an “example of some of our changes on professional management benefiting the residents of Scotch Plains.”

However, Vastine called into question how this was done, as he felt that the appointed company was given the opportunity to drop their quote even further when the original company matched their quote. “It seems they were selected even prior to the interviews and I am troubled by this process.”

Township Manager Henry Underhill was able to outline exactly what was done and Glover stated that “the reality is we went out to bid and we had our fee structure cut in half” which brought about a saving of almost $50,000.  While it was determined that nothing untoward had transpired, Vastine still voted against the appointment.

Council meeting procedure also sparked a lively debate when Council members considered a change in how abstentions were viewed and in whether or not to read out the consent agenda.

Under the current rules, an abstention is viewed as a “no” when the votes are tallied. The Council voted to have an abstention truly be an abstention, emphasizing that it should only be used in extreme circumstances. “We were elected to vote on issues, not to abstain,” said Glover.

Some general questions were raised by Councilwoman Colleen Gialanella about costs of items up for approval for payment. “Its good to have a discussion in public so that residents don’t think we just show up and rubber stamp things, that we actually look at line items.”

The public comment portion of the meeting was almost exclusively devoted to issues surrounding the lingering cleanup from Hurricane Sandy, when the cleanup would be completed and how much of the cost will be covered by FEMA.

Other items that were announced was the appointment of Diane Rotella of Metropolitan Doors to the Special Improvement District Board, the final confirmation of the Scotch Plains/Fanwood radio station license for AM530, the upcoming Spring Musical at the High School and the Rescue Squads Pancake Breakfast on Sunday.

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