Township Manager Appointment

December 2007 – Comments On the Township Manager’s Appointment

I am confident that some day in the not too distant future, Byram Township will look upon the interim and permanent appointments of Byram Township manager very favorably.

The appointments have been characterized by a very few well-orchestrated and choreographed parties as “pleas poured out to council over their (the Council’s) haphazard appointment of” our very effective interim manager, Ray Rafferty. Chief Rafferty is well-qualified to be acting township manager and for his past two months tenure I have had nothing but compliments on his handling of the additional responsibilities.

As to the appointment of township manager, someone should have done their own research instead of relying on hearsay and the accurate reporting of inaccurate statements.
There is no law that requires credentialing or certification of a township manager. Our manager holds a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall University and has graduate work from George Washington and Rutgers Universities. He has over twenty years of project management experience with two Fortune 500 companies and has taken much of the dual-sector (corporate/public) related course work such as TQM, EEO, ADA, etc. needed to become a Certified Public Manager. Corporate management training and public management training are very similar until you get down to corporate law and public law differences that can be learned in a matter of 15 to 37 days of training necessary to achieve the CPM, a certification open to all public employees, especially supervisors. Becoming CPM-certified remains a goal set by the manager.

It had been stated that the new manager was given “longevity pay and free benefits … compensation that was . . . stripped from other municipal employees.” Not true. A check of the three union contracts will show that only those employees hired after 1/1/08 will not receive longevity. The new manager has waived medical insurance because he is covered under his spouse’s plan. In doing likewise, all township employees are entitled to 50% of the savings under the union contracts. They take the risk of needing extra coverage for a catastrophic illness but tens of thousands of Byram-taxpayer dollars are saved by this contractual provision each year.

Our Council decisions are not made in a vacuum. Our decisions are neither “sketch comedy” nor “satire”. They are made, by majority vote, with the good of all of Byram Township in mind. The majority decisions of the Council are, in fact, not “deficiencies in running the municipality” but rather objective and deliberative decision-making based on all of the facts.

Being a township resident and knowing people in town are positive factors in the selection process. I find it refreshing that we have a qualified resident willing to take the opportunity to serve us. There is very little that can replace a strong foundation in the community. We give preference in all positions to township residents and we can require a township manager to move into the township. If manager applicants balk at such a move, they move down on my eligibility list.

My background relevant to this decision-making process is as follows and was stated at the meeting. I hold a BA in Government from Lehigh and masters in Criminal Justice/Public Administration from CUNY and UVA. I have been working in the public sector uninterrupted for about 50 years having started in public safety while in high school. I was an elected charter study commissioner and author of the commission’s report for Sussex County when we changed the form of county government. I was an advisor to the group of courageous and dedicated residents who changed Byram’s form of government in 1985.

I reached out to members of the municipal manager’s association, to our own professionals and to some of our staff members for input before I made my decision. I was told that the hiring of a government outsider was insightful and I hope it will also be looked at as foresightful – to coin a word.

I can tell you that a good manager always relies on his staff for input. Even in major emergencies and disasters, a unified command approach is now required by the federal government of all levels of government.

Some of our sister municipalities have chosen other selection processes. One is using a costly outside agency, one has used a civilian applicant review team and another has conducted their interviews in public. Each of these has weaknesses. As a former head of the New Jersey Municipal Manager’s Association advised, our Council has the expertise to conduct an effective process. We chose to follow the Byram-precedent format and we did so with the direct participation of the township attorney and under provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act.

Mr. Joseph Sabatini was hired at the same salary we hired our former township manager at in 2004 and given that fact and others, the savings is in the $24,000 to $30,000 range per year into 2008 and still an annual savings for years to come.
I have already seen Mr. Sabatini at work in meetings with the state, county and local officials and I am even more confident than ever that the decision to hire him is both insightful and ‘foresightful’.

Eskil S.”Skip” Danielson, MA CEM, Mayor (December 2007)

Forest Lakes Fall

Forest Lakes Fall