A last week’s meeting of the Freehold Borough Council the members adopted one resolution requiring them and other appointed officials to attend training programs as part of Governor Chris Christie’s Best Practices Inventory Checklist. While the council worked to fulfill their obligations from Trenton some members expressed displeasure at the process as a whole.
Councilman Ronald Griffiths said that since being elected as the “novice” on the council he has attended webinars, seminars at colleges around the state and meetings of the League of Municipalities. Having gone through the process he said “the best practices of the state of New Jersey is not my favorite thing.”
Griffiths said when the borough receives instructions on how to complete the checklist there are instructions on what to do, 50 questions to answer including one that is 224 words long and other requirements to be completed. All that work, he said, is “too many hours spent by the Mayor, Council, business administrator, chief financial officer and their staffs reviewing, discussing preparing documents in support of our response to this bureaucratic mandate masquerading under the misnomer of best practices.”
Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer agreed with Griffiths, adding that the process is retroactive which complicates things for the borough in order to ensure they are in line with the expectations from the state. “This is not something where they give us a list at the beginning of the year, a list of things that says these are the things that we, people who do not live here and don’t know the makeup of the community or anything would like you to achieve.”
Schutzer said the administration does not know what questions Trenton will ask and while some are the same on an annual basis some are different. “We have to put retroactively what we did do. There’s no telling us ahead of time what we should expect from this.
Like her colleagues Shutzer said she was voting for it in order to ensure the borough got its full funding. “My goal is to do what is best for the people of this town that elected me,” she said. “I will, if the powers that be in Trenton, believe that they know better than I do how to serve you, I will continue to go to seminars where people that don’t know you and don’t know the makeup of the town will teach me how to better serve you.”
Councilman George Schnurr said while the council may not agree with the checklist and the process it was what was required by the state. “It’s sort of like a high school senior complaining that they have to take the SATs in order to go to college. It is what it is,” he said. “The state has given us these questions to answer and so we have to do it. And like a lot of things in like you have to make the best of what you have.”
The two resolutions follow other recent adoptions by the council as part of their effort to ensure the borough receives 100 percent of its state funding. Borough Administrator Joe Bellina said that with the Borough coming in at 95 percent on the checklist they should be in good shape to receive all eligible funding.