This past October, St. Francis Residential Center hosted a Fall Festival to raise money to keep the center, historic building and staple Denville institution operating. This was truly an amazing community event. Organizations from all across town participated. It created increased visibilty and visits to downtown and rejuveniated our town. Undoubtedly a huge success for Denville.
Unfortunately shortly afterwards there was some minor controversy regarding the event. While the organizers of the event followed every proper protocol and process with the Township, a question regarding the payment of Denville Police & permits arose at a recent council meeting. I was not aware of this until the public portion of a recent Town Council Meeting.
The Mayor did question payment of the police officers used for security at the event as well as the permits. Obviously the permits were obtainted and approved by the Council. They were done months ago at Public Meetings with the Mayor and Council. The question of police payment is a legitimate one although, I firmly believe The Chief of Police should be allowed to manage his deparment the way he sees fit. Each year we approve budgets for the Chief and he has always managed to those budgets impeccably while still delivering the best police force in the county. If he sees a need for a certain amount of officers at certain town events he should be free to assign & budget them as he sees fit.
Naturally I was a bit taken back by the questioning of this event at the last moment. As a Councilperson, it is my job to debate and vocalize my agreement or disagreement with policies of the adminstration. Again, police payment is a legitimate question although this event should not jeopardize any additional overtime. It is something that should have been brought up months ago or should be brought up again during our budget workshops for the next year. I never felt the concern to bring it up because the Administration was fully involved and knows how to manage our township budget appropriately.
The Mayor and I agree on many things but I am not shy to also express myself if we disagree. It is the Mayor's responsiblity to know what his own administration is doing. In this case, they were handling the process of a great Fall Festival in town with proper process. Unbudgeted Police overtime (which is most likely not the case) can not be blamed on the Council. If any event in town grows large enough to demand an excessively large police presence, the idea of sharing that cost with the organizers can be evaluated. However, I don't believe the St. Francis Fall Festival or any of our other town events are even near that level yet.
All in all, This Tradition Reborn in Denville is a great thing for our town. I look forward to it's return October 2, 2011.