August 22, 2012

Township Discusses Deer, Schools, Transition

At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee members heard presentations from school Superintendent Judy Wilson and a representative of United Bowhunters of New Jersey, and responded to a question about consolidation implementation.

Ms. Wilson presented an overview of building projects that would be carried out if the referendum bond vote on Monday, September 24 is approved. (See related article on page seven in this issue.)

At a “work session” in which no action was taken, representative Chris Midura described United Bowhunting of New Jersey programs that have been “safely and successfully administered” in Princeton in the past. With the season starting on September 8, Mr. Midura said that he hoped a decision to continue with them would come soon, so that they can “line up” the hunters and do an orientation. The Animal Control Committee, which will make the recommendation, is meeting in early September.

In response to a question from Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert about a “problem” alluded to in a letter, Mr. Midura explained that it had to do with suggestions that members of their organization were conducting “deer drives” (i.e., moving the deer toward hunters). It was determined that this was not occurring “among my people,” and Mr. Miduri said that in a recent conversation with Bob Buchanan, the former police chief indicated that the mayor could contact him if there was still any question about the episode.

Township resident and Transition Task Force IT Subcommittee member Henry Singer, described himself as having been “caught off guard” when, at a recent meeting Transition Task Force Chair Mark Freda said that “things are winding down.” When he asked Mr. Freda about continuity in the process, Mr. Singer said, he was told that the Task Force’s charge is essentially to “recommend and facilitate” by providing a “starting point.”

“It’s not something that will happen by accident,” continued Mr. Singer on Monday evening. He noted the complexity of consolidation and the ongoing analyses and decisions that participants should be referring to as they proceed. In the corporate world, he said, there’s a “play guide,” and detailed coordinated set of plans. “Who’s going to carry the ball across the line?” wondered Mr. Singer at the meeting, citing a need for “project management skills” that would address two of his favorite sayings: “plan the work the work the plan,” and “trust but verify.”

In their responses to Mr. Singer, both Committeewoman Sue Nemeth and Ms. Liz Lempert, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Chad Goerner’s absence, noted that oversight will be in the hands of the governing bodies. “We have experience doing this,” said Ms. Nemeth, pointing to shared services that already exist, and suggesting that combining like departments from each municipality might actually be easier than the management of shared services to date.

Ms. Lempert echoed Ms. Nemeth’s comments, noting that there will be “reports at public sessions” to ensure that everything “should run smoothly. If there’s a problem, we’ll discuss it.”

Mr. Singer also voiced concern about the placement of three transition-related costs under the regular consent agenda at the meeting, suggesting that they be identified separately on future agendas. The costs approved on Monday evening included payments to Vital Communications for tax assessor software (not to exceed $34,000); Comcast Enterprise for internet services (not to exceed $89,100); and Open Systems Integrators, for the integration of Borough security cameras in the new dispatch system (not to exceed $47,900). CFO Kathy Monzo gave a brief explanation for each of them.