Millville City Commission Meeting

This was the first real meeting of the Commission after its reorganization meeting two weeks ago where the new Commission was seated.

It began with recognizing John Wallop for his life saving CPR at Wawa. This is a wonderful story and the young man seems to be well-grounded.

Commissioner Romanick went through a number of public events the city is hosting. He kept saying to check the Facebook page for details. Grrr . . . The city should not rely upon Facebook for its messaging. Some of us are not there. But this did get me to start another account to follow Millville’s happenings.

COmmissioner Hewitt reported on the number of fire and rescue calls for December. Unbelievable numbers! 6,841 calls to EMS and 1,465 calls to the fire department. Millville has 27,000 residents. That’s a lot of calling.

Mayor Orndorf explained that former Commissioner Bill Davis has been hired as an executive assistant. Jobs get doled out those in the party’s favor. She also mentioned there are two openings on the Zoning Board.. These are alternate positions.

IT Management Services from SHI International of Somerset, NJ received a contract for 2022 for $79,217.40 for technology services. What will this company do for that kind of money? That seems costly for maintenance. Is there more to the contract than that?

The Commission voted to table paying an $8,000 bill from Marmero Law. This is an interesting decision. The bill stems from the last Commission. THe contract called for $15,000. Marmero billed another $10,000 in October and then sent this $8,000 bill at the end of the year. Apparently, according to the contract, they need to ask before they bill. They didn’t and this Commission isn’t going to pay the bill. The undertone is that these firms all do this. According to Commissioner Hewitt:

Bid low, bill high and be paid.

Commissioner Kirk Hewitt, 18 January 2022

At the last Commission meeting, this Commission hired the Testa law firm in Vineland to provide the labor legal advice for the same $15,000 Marmero had been contracted for. I sure hope the Commission informed Testa not to bill one penny more than the $15,000.

The Commission is poised to hire Brock Russell as an in-house lawyer and his paralegal Jeanette Pace as a temporary paralegal. I have no issues with this as I hear it other than I am surprised. Mr. Russell seems to be gining up his private practice for $168,000 annual salary that does not include health benefits. Ms. Pace is only going to earn $5,000 for this temporary work. That is assuredly less than she curently makes at Russell’s law firm. Something doesn’t seem right about this. I am probably not understanding some portion of it. Next year (or more likely when a new Commission is seated) Mr. Russell may not be re-upped. If his private practice is gone, so will be his income.

The public comment portion of the meeting brought Pastor Steve Harris to the lectern. Harris made a good point of the Commission needing to change the narrative in Millville. Generally speaking, I enjoyed what he had to say with one exception. Despite the outdated decor of the Commission chamber, that should not be addressed. The ugly yellow seats are perfectly functional. The Commission has plenty to do without beautifying its own house.

Cindi Cooke spoe and shared that through interviews, 90% of Millville’s homeless admit to some form of mental illness. I thought that was interesting.

Commissioner Romanick also wants to refurbish the Commission chamber. Arggh! He also indicated that Waltman Park has received a $40,000 grant to re-do the basketball courts. Sounds good, but my is that expensive!

Commissioner Hewitt lamented the lack of enthusiasm for 3rd Friday. That coincides with my understanding. There is no buzz at all regarding the event these days. That plays into Pastor Harris’s comments.

Mayor Orndorf ended with expressing a need to change the narrative, a boost for the city’s social media, and an overhaul of the phone system. She mentioned she is not able to contact someone within the city from her phone. That seems most problematic. How can that be?

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