BERGENFIELD, N.J. -- On Tuesday, April 5, the governing bodies of Dumont and Bergenfield agreed to move forward with a bipartisan committee to explore the possibility of a joint municipal complex.
Dumont Councilman Louis Di Paolo and Bergenfield Councilman Chris Tully will head the committee, which also includes Dumont Mayor Jim Kelly, Bergenfield Mayor Norman Schmelz, Dumont Councilman Rafael Riquelme and Bergenfield Councilman Hernando Rivera. The committee will explore overall cost, scope and implementation of the project.
"We are forming this committee to explore a possible borough hall that can be shared by both municipalities. The savings will benefit both towns," said Kelly.
"With this new fact-finding committee, we will be able to sit down and discuss the idea of a shared municipal building coming to light," said Schmelz. The project could save millions of dollars for both communities, he said.
"With everyone's budget increasing, this is a way to be fiscally smart and have the ability to not only share a building but also services, when they make sense."
Dumont's municipal complex, built in 1918, was vacated in late 2014 after a health department report concluded the structure "causes or is likely to cause serious physical harm to employees within the building."
"It is not sustainable for Dumont to continue renting office space and trailers for municipal business," said Di Paolo. "The borough has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on temporary facilities."
Bergenfield's municipal complex, built in 1924, is less than a quarter-mile away, and is needs numerous infrastructure repairs.
"While Bergenfield does not have the current predicament of Dumont, we are faced with an aging borough hall that is in need of vast infrastructure improvements," Tully said. "While the bi-partisan committee is a great first step, I would like to caution that this is simply a fact-finding committee.
"In doing this, we recognize that current model of government in New Jersey is not sustainable. Governing bodies across the state need to recognize the importance of sharing services in order to keep taxes stabilized, while ensuring that vital municipal services are sustained."
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