The 94th Annual League of Municipalities Convention was, for many, an opportunity to attend parties, but for me it was an opportunity to attend several of the educational seminars to collect information that might be helpful to me as a Plainfield elected official. I attended a total of seven seminars over a three-day period. I arrived in Atlantic City at about 3:15 in the afternoon of Tuesday, November 17th and headed straight to a seminar on "Division of Pensions and Benefits Update on Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits and Services" from 3:45 - 5:15 pm.
On Wednesday, November 18th, day two of the convention, I attended the following four seminars: "Forensic Techniques for Detecting Internal and External Fraud in a Municipal Environment" from 9:00 - 10:40 am; "Local Government and the Non-Profit Sector - Separate Worlds or Effective Partners?" from 10:45 am - 12:00 noon; "Performance Measurement Benchmarking - Do They Work?" from 2:00 - 3:40 pm and "Budgeting in 2010 - Learning from the 2009 Experience - What Works from the Short Term and Long Term Perspective" from 3:45 - 5:15 pm.
On day three, Wednesday, November 19th, I attended the following two seminars: "State and Cooperative Purchasing Program - Where Are We Today? - Where Will We Be Tomorrow?" from 9:00 - 10:40 am; and, "The Open Public Records Act In 2009" which ran from 10:45 - 12:00 noon rounded out my educational experience at the convention. After these, off I went to the League luncheon, for all delegates, where Governor-elect Chris Christie and outgoing Governor John Corzine spoke to delegates about the state of the State, the challenges we face and the need for bi-partisan cooperation.All in all, I found the convention to be enormously beneficial. Elected officials and municipal employees who availed themselves of the information presented by the various speakers should be better informed and more aware of the challenges and crises facing their municipalities. We must all be willing to make the hard choices, make the necessary sacrifices and follow the lead of those municipalities that have already put austerity measures in place to cope with the very harsh economic times in an effort to minimize the impact of ever-rising property taxes.
What should be clear to all of us is that we cannot continue do what we have always done. We must change the way government delivers services to the people and we must explore opportunities for driving down the costs for those services. Later this week, I will share with you some of my "takeaways" from the seminars as well as some of the things I intend to champion in the coming year.