Wednesday, September 9, 2015
COUNCIL'S TUSEDAY NIGHT #1
There was no official notice but the word had gotten out that the Planning Division had requested an open executive session hearing on the Administration’s plan to out-source that division.
That plus a large group who had come to advocate for a paid sick leave ordinance and others who were there to speak about the Crossing Guards’ payment raise resulted in such a mob that before 7pm there were no open street parking spaces.
Indeed when the public was admitted into the Court Room shortly after 7:15 it was filled to capacity.
Councilors Rivers and Taylor entered shortly after the session began and participated in the discussion. Councilor Brown was present on Speaker phone which I find unsatisfactory; (later on why).
To begin Corporation Counsel explained that this was only for information and that there would be no action pending public legal notice for RPs to be in the papers today. I do not get the Courier but I could not find it among the zingy-million pages of Sheriff’s sales and a scattered elsewhere in the Ledger's legal notices including one section titled “For Bids”.
City Administrator Smiley gave a very brief introductory statement stating the change was desired for “efficiency and economic savings. Later in answering Councilor Storch’s inquiry Smiley noted that there were 3:3/4 FTEs in the Division
Planned Sanchez then took over and noted that in Union County only Plainfield and one other municipality out of 21 had an in house Planning Division; all others outsource including Garwood where Bill Nierstedt is Council President.
Again the unsupported statements without cold figures were made that there would be greater efficiency and an economic savings with no loss of quality and availability of services if such a move was made.
Sanchez went on to say that the difficulty in getting approvals through the present setup of Planning Division and by inference the Planning and Zoning Boards were discouraging developers from coming to Plainfield. Once again there has been an unconfirmed rumor that one such developer has business ties with members of the Administration. Obvious there was no blame placed on the Council’s recent rejection without adequate explanation of a PILOT program.
Public Works Administrator Watson- he of great experience in the PMUA- remarked that the savings would be about $200K a year. Again there was no line item accounting presented.
Plainfield’s experience with outsourcing the City Engineer Department and the Health Care Directorship belies the claim that this creates greater efficiency and a substantial budget savings.
I hope there will be a presentation of cold facts not vague statements when this is presented at next months meeting. Without that it may be as in other cases there is a personality element in the desired change.