Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meetings, Meetings

People who like to keep up with city doings will find several conflicts this month.

On Tuesday, the Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Administration Building at 1200 Myrtle Avenue, while the City Council meets at 8 p.m. in Municipal Court.

On Thursday, the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority will hold its annual reorganization at 7 p.m. at 127 Roosevelt Avenue. Commissioners will elect officers for the year, name an official newspaper and make other decisions such as hiring legal representation and consultants. Agendas should be available at the meeting. Call (908) 226-2518 to confirm as sometimes dates are changed.

The Planning Board also meets at 8 p.m. Thursday in City Hall Library. Agendas are available in advance in the Planning Division, second floor of City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. At its last meeting, which conflicted with a League of Women Voters meeting, the board approved Landmark's application for commercial development on West Front Street. I was at the LWV and have not had a chance to check the Landmark documents, which should be on file in the Planning Division.

There will be an agenda fixing session of the City Council at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in City Hall Library. In an earlier version of the new calendar, the first City Council "working meeting" was scheduled for the same night, with PMUA being the topic. Now the working meeting has been changed to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Municipal Court and the topic will be Public Safety.

Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs had scheduled a community forum for the same night, but has since canceled it. However, I can't go to the working meeting because I have to go to the Shade Tree Commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library (I am the secretary and have to take minutes).

The working meeting was a concept introduced by the late Councilman Ray Blanco when he was president of the council in 2006. Each meeting is supposed to be devoted to one topic. Council President Rashid Burney has proposed four for 2009. Besides Public Safety, other topics are Information Technology in April, PMUA in July and Economic Growth in October. All the dates and locations are on a chart at Burney's blog, "As I See It," pending official legal notice.

The council has also scheduled budget meetings starting in March for the fiscal year that begins July 1, even though this year's budget has yet to be finalized. Opinions differ on how efficacious it is to start so early on FY 2010. State budget law allows a municipality to set a temporary budget for the first three months of the fiscal year while the administration prepares a budget. The council introduces the budget and can then modify it. Optimally, the budget is passed before the second quarter elapses.

The FY 2009 budget, for the fiscal year ending June 30, has been held up by uncertainties at the federal and state level and may not be passed until March or April. Meanwhile, the administration is still seeking modifications, most notably the establishment of an Information Technology department, with a cabinet-level director. The governing body has not yet made a decision on the change.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it suspicious that the council meeting focusing on PMUA has been switched to July, after the primary election. Is it possible that if PMUA Chairwoman Brokaw runs for mayor as many have rumored she doesn't want to be faced with questions and outrage over the 20% increase in rates? Why can't the council focus on this and public safety at the same meeting. The council should not allow Robinson-Briggs to hire an IT director. Why not use a consultant to do it? It would be much cheaper if we do it the way other towns have done it. This administration has wasted so many taxpayer dollars already. This sounds like they already have somebody in mind. Remember their track record.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Considering that the PMUA is an autonomous authority and that there has been no indication of the format of the working meeting, plus just a few weeks' notice, I am not surprised that PMUA does not want to be first up. I will soon be doing a post on the whole concept and history of "working meetings."

11:14 AM  
Blogger olddoc said...

Eagerly waiting with bated breath for your post.

11:50 AM  

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