Monday, December 9, 2013

City Council executes shared services agreement, but did they understand it?

At the October 22, 2013 meeting of the City Council residents came by the dozens to plead with the Council regarding the placement of a Student Resource Officer at the high school, see Misguided residents fire at City Council.

The room was divided.  Many wanted to put the nearly $1,000,000 the Board of Education knowingly did not reimburse the City behind them and move forward.  Others wanted the Council to demand payment.  I for one gave this new Council their first thumbs up as they identified the problem and indicated that they were going to pursue reimbursement.  Unfortunately, I must withdraw my metaphorical tip of the hat (as seen in the video below from that meeting).

On November 25, 2013 the City Council voted to approve a shared services agreement agreeing to terms and conditions for the 2013-2014 school year and they reinstated a Student Resource Office in the Hackensack High School.

I addressed the Council in an effort to ensure they had not laid down on the nearly $1,000,000 in payments that the Board of Education knowingly did not pay to (or bring to the attention of) the City.  Mayor LaBrosse and City Manager LoIacono emphatically answered "no" when asked if the shared service agreement addressed the payments that were not made up to the 2013-2014 school year.

The agreement fully releases the BOE of any arrears billings

Mayor LaBrosse signed this agreement

My question was clear, as were the Mayor and City Manager's answers of "NO."  Given the answer received, and the lack of correction from the rest of the Council, I can only assume that the City Manager, Mayor, and Council did not understand the agreement as written.  What is even scarier is that the City Attorney did not step in and correct the Mayor or City Manager.

As before this meeting the City Council had already began to back pedal from their early position demanding payment, I had researched the remedies available to the residents and tax payers.  Under NJSA 2A:15-18 a resident has the right to bring an action on behalf of a municipality in the event the governing body fails to do so.  The City Council has not only (apparently unknowingly) walked away from a potential $1,000,000 reimbursement from the Board of Education but closed the door for any tax payer wishing to explore the potential of taking action.

Were they advised?  Did they understand?  There are too many big question marks left open for a group that is managing OUR $92 million budget.

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