Montclair Tackles Unpaid Bills and Finance Department Concerns

Montclair Town Council faced a issue as they tackled the longstanding problem of unpaid utility bills. The council’s decision to hire Government Strategies Group (GSG) without a competitive bidding process to review the town’s Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSNG) invoices was a focal point of the meeting. This resolution, known as R 24065, sparked debate among the council members over GSG’s experience and the potential conflict of interest involved. Despite concerns, the resolution was ultimately passed.

The issue of the unpaid bills was linked to broader concerns about the efficiency and transparency of the finance department, particularly after its disbandment. The absence of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at the meeting did not go unnoticed, as members questioned the decision-making process and accountability within the department. The council acknowledged that the accumulation of bills represented a failure on the town’s part and pledged to address it promptly.

In a related financial matter, the council voted to create two nonunion administrative positions—senior assistant municipal tax collector and senior assistant municipal tax assessor. The need for these positions, their potential impact on union roles, and the implications of the “senior” titles were debated at length.

The Montclair Ambulance Unit’s presentation was another key point of the meeting. As the town’s sole 911 ambulance service since 1953, the unit outlined its operational challenges, such as limited federal and state funding, and the need for a new ambulance and safety equipment upgrades. They also discussed their role in the community, including partnerships with neighboring towns and volunteer opportunities, while emphasizing the importance of designating EMS as an essential service for increased funding support.

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The council also heard from the public regarding concerns and projects impacting the community. The Bonsal Preserve was discussed, with a request for support in relocating a sewer line. There was also a call for a split rail fence to demarcate the northern edge of the preserve, following restoration efforts. The Montclair Climate Action Plan was presented, advocating for the reduction of carbon emissions and the promotion of a bikeable and walkable community. The council was urged to prioritize and integrate this plan into policy.

Additionally, the condition of Woodman Field was brought to attention by a group of concerned citizens, including a high school student and a baseball mom. They highlighted the importance of the field for student athletes and the community, stressing the need for improvements and voicing concerns over the environmental impact of the construction project. The council discussed the legal and environmental issues surrounding the project, with a commitment to prioritize environmental testing.

The meeting also included debates on other community matters such as recent planning board appointments and the council’s authority in certain violations. The council moved to go into executive session, and upon reconvening, motions were made, including the reappointment of a member to the Civil Rights Commission.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Sean M Spiller
City Council Officials:
Sean Spiller, Robert J. Russo, William L. Hurlock, Roger Terry, Robin Schlager, Lori Price Abrams, David Cummings

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