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Mayor Breaks Tie on Vote for New Bloomingdale Borough Attorney

Nomination for municipal risk consultant rejected by council majority.

will have a new borough attorney after Mayor Jon Dunleavy broke a tie of councilmembers' votes to appoint Fred Semrau in the role Tuesday.

Semrau is also the borough attorney for the Township of West Milford.

When Dunleavy nominated Semrau at Tuesday night's council meeting, he said Semrau proposed a $75,000 cap on the cost of his services, including salary, litigation and arbitration services. Councilwoman Linda Shortman argued that she did not think the attorney could put a cap on litigation work, for which he charges $130 per hour, but Dunleavy said that was what was written in his proposal.

Councilman Ray Yazdi pointed out that for previous Borough Attorney Mark Semeraro's services, the borough was paying $150 per hour for litigation services and while he and Councilman Glenn Schiffman disputed the total amount the borough will have spent on legal services in 2011, the councilmen agreed that the amount falls somewhere around $122,000.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Wendy Connolly asked Yazdi if he could determine an average amount the borough typically would need to spend on the legal line item, but the councilman said it is hard to tell since last year, the attorney was faced with more litigation and arbitration work than in previous years. Last year the borough also retained former Borough Attorney Joe McMahon as an assistant borough attorney to assist with litigation that was already in progress.

Tuesday, Dunleavy nominated McMahon as assistant borough attorney again, but the nomination was tabled by Shortman.

"I'd like to delve more into the cost, why we would need an assistant attorney," Shortman said.

Other appointments Tuesday included Jack Kraft as bond counsel, William Graf as a Planning Board alternate, resident Jack Miller to the Recreation and Open Space Establishment (ROSE) Trust Fund Advisory Board, Drew Juhlin as a regular member of the Recreation Commission and John Timpanaro as a Recreation Commission alternate.

Brian Brenkert, Robyn Turk and Katie Sondermeyer were appointed for one-year terms each to the Municipal Alliance.

The appointment of a borough auditor was also tabled Tuesday as Dunleavy said he was confident the firm and person he would have nominated would have been rejected by the council majority. However, Dunleavy said that the council majority had previously recommended the auditor appointment remain tabled until the borough receives a full annual financial statement report.

If the council does not give consent to a mayoral appointment at the borough's reorganization meeting, they are able to make their own appointment 30 days later. As the next council meeting on Feb. 7 will meet that benchmark, Dunleavy asked for a verbal agreement that the council majority will not simply appoint an auditor if the financial statement is not yet received. Schiffman agreed.

paul bastante February 08, 2012 at 04:21 PM
The timing of getting back Bailey Ave, getting back Fireworks (Now on calendar) and now the appointment of a new attorney is very interesting. But a good job out of the current governing body none the less.

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