Montclair’s Capital Finance Committee says its ability to advise council is threatened by an “unwillingness of the township manager to cooperate.”

The CFC details alleged difficulties with town manager Marc Dashield in a status report from citizen members — Peter Rappoport, Joan Zief, Ben Asher, Brian Clarkson, Amod Vaze and John Reichman. The report, signed by chairman John Reichman, is dated October 17 and was sent to council members and the town manager. Reichman tells Baristanet that the CFC have not received a response to this report:

When the CFC was reconstituted in 2008, its mission was, among other things, to assist in developing and recommending capital expense policy, to review capital projects and prioritize them and to review and analyze capital budgets. We believe that we have had a substantial, constructive impact on Montclair’s capital spending policy. Our initial report provided the Council and the public with important information which had not been previously compiled or analyzed with respect to the Township’s debt; we successfully recommended, over the initial objections of the Township’s consultant, that Montclair needed to convert much of it short term notes to bonds in order to take advantage of low interest rates and to remove the risk of future rate increases; and we gave thorough and reasoned reports explaining why the Council should not pursue the Senior Care project, but go ahead with South Park Street.

There are important matters for the CFC to examine in 2011 and 2012. We want to review and report back on the following matters: (i) whether the South Park Street project continues to make economic sense in light of the Town’s delay in proceeding with the Project and its large, unexplained underestimation of the project’s costs; (ii) the Town’s practice of putting unexpended capital funds into the operating budget; (iii) the Edgemont Park project where there appears to be a lack of clarity about what that project will cost and who will pay for it: (iv) developing a methodology for ranking and prioritizing capital needs which the Town Manager’s current, bare boned capital budget fails to do; (v) the sale of capital assets and whether the proceeds should be used for short term fixes to the operating budget; and (vi) weaning the Town away from putting predictable annual expenses, such as street paving and IT upgrades, in the capital budget. We are also, of course willing to look at other issues when they arise or which the Council wants us to examine.

Unfortunately, our ability to advise you is by threatened by the unwillingness of the Township Manager to cooperate with us. For example, over the course of the last year, we have repeatedly asked Mr. Dashield for copies of the Town’s capital budget as soon as it prepared. We were repeatedly assured by Mr. Dashield that it would be provided to us and we would have an opportunity to provide input.

Mr. Dashield nonetheless submitted a capital plan to the council. We never received a copy or any notice that this was occurring. Further, the “plan,” to be charitable, is completely lacking in any of the details that the Council needs to make an informed capital spending decision. There is no ranking of projects by importance, no analysis of budgetary impacts and no evaluation of alternatives.

This was far from the first time we have received no cooperation from the Town Manager. Previously, it took us months to even get a meeting with Mr. Dashield.

We believe that we have made substantial contributions to the Town and the Council and we want to continue to contribute, but we need Mr. Dashield’s cooperation consistent with the Council’s July 22, 2008 resolution.

25 replies on “Capital Finance Committee Calls Montclair Town Manager ‘Unwilling to Cooperate’”

  1. I think it’s outrageous that Dashield is dragging his feet. He works for the citizens of Montclair and there should be absolute transparency with regards to the township’s budgets. I hold the township council responsible because their his boss.

  2. Apparently, he doesn’t work for the citizens. How much of a raise is built into his contract again? Oh, wasn’t there something about a bonus too?

  3. Any chance we could hear Mr. Dashield’s side on this one? It’s a straight-up attack on him, including a photo that makes it look like he’s asleep during a meeting.

  4. Previous photo replaced — Dashield was reading at the meeting — but here’s another (albeit not as clear). A phone call and email did go out to the town manager — if we receive a response to either, we will update.

  5. The photo change was a good idea. And, who knows, every allegation in this letter could be correct, but, as we all now, it’s political season in Montclair. Who is to say the CFC members aren’t all political supporters of people who want to get rid of Dashield, and could have motives that are less than pure.

  6. Come on Nick, really? I agree it is politcal season in Montclair but Marc refuses to work with OBAC too. So now we know there are 2 council appointed committees of citizens with financial experience willing to do the work, volunteer their time to help Montcliar get on better financial footing and you think this could potentially be a political move to oust Marc? I am not buying it. I think Marc needs and should be ousted. I don’t think this Council will do it because Marc is doing a great job of keeping their secrets.

  7. Nice gig, no? 43 days off and $400 per month for the use of his vehicle. Don’t most people have to use their personal vehicles to get to work and attend meetings etc?
    I love the raises every six months too. I sure hope his side of the story is a good one.

    He will receive up to $5,000 in moving expenses, a leave package with 26 vacation days, four personal days and 13 sick days per year.

    While he may have to participate in health care costs, he will receive compensation for professional dues and $500 for conferences, including annual League of Municipalities training sessions, with a limit of 10 days per year in all.

    The township will reimburse the biannual cost of renewing his certified municipal finance officer license and allow $400 per month to cover costs of using his personal vehicle.

    Topping the list is a starting salary of $140,000 for 2010, a $30,000 increase over his pay here. In his first 18 months, he will be eligible for several increases: To $145,000 after six months, to $150,000 after 12 months and to $155,000 after 18 months. Initially, he will have performance reviews at each of these junctures and annually thereafter.

  8. BTW Jerseygurl, you know Marc still does not live in Montclair. I mean, he’s no fool, who would want to pay these ridiculous taxes, haha!

  9. Whether or not he himself is doing a good job, gurl, the amounts listed seem reasonable for that level of responsibility.

    the car allowance is not for the to and from work stuff, but for all the driving around town he has to do in order to do his job. We could also eliminate that $400 and give him a township vehicle instead, but it would probably cost more.

  10. RoC – maybe you should be asking Dashield the questions about S park St that you keep aiming at Cary.

    I’m not so sure that the Manager report to the council. It looks to me that the Manager reports to the MAYOR

    40:69A-32. Mayor-council plan
    a. Each municipality hereunder shall be governed by an elected council, and an elected mayor and by such other officers and employees as may be duly appointed pursuant to this article, general law or ordinance.

    b. For the purpose of the construction of all other applicable statutes, unless the explicit terms and context of the statute require a contrary construction, any administrative or executive functions assigned by general law to the governing body shall be exercised by the mayor, and any legislative and investigative functions assigned by general law to the governing body shall be exercised by the council. Those functions shall be exercised pursuant to the procedures set forth in this plan of government, unless other procedures are required by the specific terms of the general law.

  11. How is this the Town Manager’s fault?

    If the CFC really has a role, and if this role is valued by the Council, then the Council would insist these budgets would first be vetted by the CFC. If the Council doesn’t care at all about the CFC, and the Town Manager knows this, then he ignores the CFC, submits his budgets to the Council and that is it.

    This is what appears to be reality. The Council does not seem in any real way to value the CFC. The Town Manager knows this, submitted the budget without a second thought to the CFC, the Council did not raise any issue of the apparent lack of involvement by the CFC. My interpretation is that the Council does not value the CFC.

  12. Townie,
    I think you have summarized it well and agree with your interpretation. The CFC has not helped it’s own cause.
    The SPark report was critically lacking as a financial analysis. I would not have them take another bite from that apple.
    The capital ranking/prioritization methodology project could be created Independent of Mr Dashield’s involvement and any current capital projects being considered.
    They could establish a list of best practices to address such things as: the use of excess capital, merging disparate “useful life” projects in a single bond issue, mitigation tactics to address the 5-6% above project cost we pay with each issue, a post-project ‘actual vs planned’ cost & financing recap template, etc, etc.
    The CFC has a bigger bully pulpit than the TC because the TC ignores them now, so the TC’s only remaing leverage is to fire them. Not happening in an election year.

  13. Pat,

    “I’m not so sure that the Manager report to the council. It looks to me that the Manager reports to the MAYOR”

    Montclair is not under the “Mayor-Council” form, we’re under the “Council-Manager” form. The Manager is hired and fired by majority vote of the council. He also reports to the council as a whole.

    You’ve got to get up to speed in these matters Pat.

  14. “The SPark report was critically lacking as a financial analysis.”

    “critically lacking” is being nice. It had absolutely NO financial analysis. It was all based on an unsupported rosy assumption of 10% increase in property values (in this market, no less!) made on the part of the BID. The BID, of course, being the chief proponents of the project being analyzed!

    It was shameful to put such forth as an “analysis”. The CFC has a ways to go to regain credibility if you ask me.

  15. @Roc Maybe YOU should get up to speed-how long have you lived in Montclair? Here’s the money sentence.

    “It is the intent of the mayor-council plan of government to confer on the council general legislative powers, and such investigative powers as are germane to the exercise of its legislative powers, but to retain for the mayor full control over the municipal administration and over the administration of municipal services.”

    40:69A-37.1. Mayoral control of administration
    In any municipality adopting the mayor-council plan of government, the municipal council shall deal with employees of the department of administration and other administrative departments solely through the mayor or his designee. All contact with the employees, and all actions and communications concerning the administration of the government and the provision of municipal services shall be through the mayor or his designee, except as otherwise provided by law.

    Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the council’s inquiry into any act or problem of the administration of the municipality. Any council member may, at any time, require a report on any aspect of the government of the municipality by making a written request to the mayor. The council may, by a majority vote of the whole number of its members, require the mayor or his designee to appear before the council sitting as a committee of the whole, and to bring before the council those records and reports, and officials and employees of the municipality as the council may It is the intent of the mayor-council plan of government to confer on the council general legislative powers, and such investigative powers as are germane to the exercise of its legislative powers, but to retain for the mayor full control over the municipal administration and over the administration of municipal services.determine necessary to ensure clarification of the matter under study. The council may further, by a majority of the whole number of its members, designate any number of its members as an ad hoc committee to consult with the mayor or his designee to study any matter and to report to the council thereon.

  16. and furthermore!

    40:69A-40. Mayoral duties
    The mayor shall:
    a. Enforce the charter and ordinances of the municipality and all general laws applicable thereto;

    b. Report annually to the council and to the public on the state of the municipality, and the work of the previous year; he shall also recommend to the council whatever action or programs he deems necessary for the improvement of the municipality and the welfare of its residents. He may from time to time recommend any action or programs he deems necessary or desirable for the municipality to undertake;

    c. Supervise, direct and control all departments of the municipal government and shall require each department to make an annual and such other reports on its work as he may deem desirable;

    d. Require such reports and examine such accounts, records and operations of any board, commission or other agency of municipal government, as he deems necessary;

    e. Prepare and submit to the council for its consideration and adoption an annual operating budget and a capital budget, establish the schedules and procedures to be followed by all municipal departments, offices and agencies in connection therewith, and supervise and administer all phases of the budgetary process;

    f. Supervise the care and custody of all municipal property, institutions and agencies, and make recommendations concerning the nature and location of municipal improvements and execute improvements determined by the governing body;

    g. Sign all contracts, bonds or other instruments requiring the consent of the municipality;

    h. Review, analyze and forecast trends of municipal services and finances and programs of all boards, commissions, agencies and other municipal bodies, and report and recommend thereon to the council;

    i. Supervise the development, installation and maintenance of centralized budgeting, personnel and purchasing procedures as may be authorized by ordinance;

    j. Negotiate contracts for the municipality, subject to council approval;

    k. Assure that all terms and conditions imposed in favor of the municipality or its inhabitants in any statute, franchise or other contract are faithfully kept and performed;

    l. Serve as an ex officio, nonvoting member of all appointive bodies in municipal government of which he is not an official voting member.

  17. looks to me that the Township Manager and our Mayor have a mutually advantageous relationship: Dashield doesn’t seem to have the right skill set to develop the detailed, analytical financial plans that CFC is looking for, so he doesn’t provide them. This suits the Mayor, who doesn’t want uncomfortable questions raised and prefers to gloss over the hard facts of our situation.

    It’s a win/win. Except for us. All downside for the residents because no one is driving the bus.

  18. “It is the intent of the mayor-council plan of government to confer on the council general legislative powers, and such investigative powers as are germane to the exercise of its legislative powers, but to retain for the mayor full control over the municipal administration and over the administration of municipal services.”

    I’m only going to try once more. (probably unsuccessfully)


    See where it says: “The OMCL provides for several forms of government. In 1980 the Township voted to adopt the “council-manager” plan. In the council-manager plan there is only one directly elected power center: the council.”

    Now, keep that thought. and go here:

    See where it says: “8) OMCL Mayor-Council Plan” and also see where it says: “9) OMCL Council-Manager Plan”

    Montclair is chartered in the Council-Manager Plan and you keep quoting laws from the “Mayor-Council Plan” Those don’t apply to Montclair.

  19. I said Mayor because the TC seems to be held hostage by Fried and his sidekicks. Cary and Renee have wanted this type of real data, but unfortunately they can’t get past the others. Fried seems very adept at making personal attacks when someone starts to shine a light where he doesn’t want it….

    We need to remember that Montclair is special and if you start asking too many questions you are unpatriotic and possibly a tea partier.

  20. p.s. Here is the relevant clause (emphasis added).

    Page 35. Council-Manager form of government:

    40:69A-87. Duties of mayor

    The mayor shall preside at all meetings of the municipal council and shall have a voice
    and vote in its proceedings. He shall fill vacancies occurring in the trustees of the public
    library and in the board of education where the municipality is operating under chapter 6
    of Title 18 of the Revised Statutes for such terms of office as are provided by law. All
    bonds, notes, contracts and written obligations of the municipality shall be executed on
    its behalf by the mayor or, in the event of his inability to act, by such councilman as the
    municipal council shall designate to act as mayor during his absence or disability. The powers and duties of the mayor shall be only such as are expressly conferred upon him by this article.

    The Manager works for the Council as a whole.

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