Over the past few days, I have received many emails and telephone calls about the news accounts regarding the current political upheaval in the borough of Roselle, where I serve as CFO. One of the issues at hand has to do with the legality of certain actions taken without the foreknowledge of Roselle Mayor Garrett Smith, and the full council in regards to entering into a "shared services" agreement with Roselle Park.
Several Roselle residents have also begun asking questions about why Roselle and Roselle Park have not conducted a feasibility study and public hearing IN ADVANCE of voting on such an agreement, both of which are standard operating procedures and are part of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs' "Best Practices" steps to be taken by municipalities that are considering Interlocal Services Agreements with neighboring towns.
Grants are available from the state to conduct feasibility studies; for example, as reported in the June 17, 2009 Star-Ledger, "Towns looking to save money by combining services," Scotch Plains and Fanwood have begun a feasibility study, funded by the Department of Community Affairs grant in the amount of $46,000, and each municipality will hold PUBLIC HEARINGS to gather input from the community BEFORE taking action.
Many of you are aware of how the heavy hand of politics has negatively impacted the City of Plainfield. To those of you who value honesty, ethics, and integrity, I thank you for your continued support, and I will keep you apprised of developments as they occur. Reprinted below is a letter sent to the Roselle community by Roselle Councilwoman Sylvia Turnage.
The public is invited to the next Roselle Council workshop meeting on Wednesday July 8, 2009 at 7:00 PM at Roselle Borough Hall, 210 Chestnut Street, to discuss this plan. Roselle residents are especially encouraged to listen to the reasons given for these steps.
July 2, 2009
Dear Roselle Resident,
In April, a plan to control and manipulate your tax dollars was hatched under a veil of secrecy.
Councilman Jamel Holley held unauthorized meetings with county officials, former Roselle employee and current CFO of Roselle Park Ken Blum, and Special Counsel Attorney Alan Roth. Christine Dansereau –Chair of the Shared Services Committee, had full knowledge of this plan.
The plan was simple: find a way to terminate current Roselle Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mapp and gain COMPLETE control of the finances and tax dollars in the Boro of Roselle.
The plan showed up in Roselle June 30, 2009 in the form of a 7-page proposed Shared Services agreement that and was voted on the next day in a special meeting on July 1, 2009 at Roselle Boro Hall.
The outline of the agreement is as follows:
· Terminate our current CFO Adrian Mapp and his entire finance staff, which consists of four full time employees that are Roselle residents including one employee that has their QPA (Qualified Purchasing Agent) Certification, a position that the Boro is currently hiring for.
· Move our entire Boro finance operations to Roselle Park under the direct management of the Roselle Park CFO Ken Blum and his Finance Department.
· Roselle Park shall supply part time staff to Roselle and hold office hours At Roselle Borough Hall on a daily basis. Office hours shall be determined by Roselle Park.
· The Boro of Roselle shall pay all costs for the technology needed to integrate Roselle Financial Services with Roselle Park financial services.
· Upon 3 days notice, Roselle Park’s CFO or Designee shall attend Roselle Council workshop sessions and voting meetings upon the request of Roselle Council President Jamel Holley.
This is not Shared Services. This is a HOSTILE TAKEOVER of our Borough finances.
There will be no oversight, no system of checks and balances and no accountability.
This creates a HUGE potential for FRAUD and ABUSE.
But they don’t care about that, and for that matter, they don’t care about you. All they care about is power. The Union County Democratic Organization wants to control your tax dollars from out of town and to bleed this town dry as it has done for decades.
Councilman Holley and the other architects of this scheme tried to present it to you as an intelligent plan to share services, but if this was a legitimate plan for Shared Services then:
1. WHY wasn’t Mayor Smith involved in the process at all, even though his signature is required to execute the plan?
2. WHY were only four members of the Roselle Boro Council involved in the planning and process? What are they hiding? Who are they protecting?
3. WHO are they really working for? Is it you, the taxpayers of Roselle? Or is it an outside entity such as the Union County Democratic Organization waiting in the wings to gorge itself on your tax dollars?
4. WHY was a layoff plan created and readied for submission to the State on July 2nd without the knowledge of the Human Resource Committee? Who created the plan?
5. WHY did the Mayor and entire Council of Roselle Park know about this clandestine plan since April and has admittedly had Meetings with Jamel Holley without the knowledge of the Mayor, Council or you, the Taxpayer??
Adrian Mapp, Roselle’s current CFO long has been [a] target [of] harassment, political intimidation [and] character assassination by certain Council members because he has refused to take part in actions that are illegal and damaging to the Boro’s finances.
Since Mr. Mapp’s job is protected under the State Statute, Boro Code and under a contract agreement, the only way they can get rid of him and gain control of the Boro’s finances is through a Shared Services Agreement. This is the ultimate underhanded move. It is a clear attempt to circumvent a law that is in place to protect you and your tax dollars. But they think you’re too stupid to realize that.
Roselle has a municipal budget of 36 Million Dollars, which requires a full time dedicated staff to manage. Roselle Park has a municipal budget of 13 million and a finance staff consisting of two people. If we are going to pursue a shared services agreement, why doesn’t Roselle perform the CFO duties for Roselle Park instead of the other way around? Why does this proposal call for the tail to wag the dog?
Please join us at our next Council workshop meeting on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 7PM Roselle Boro Hall, 210 Chestnut Street to discuss this PLAN and WHO is really benefiting from it.
Councilwoman Sylvia Turnage