RED BANK: PARKING, TAXES & MORE

A consultant was hired to conduct a long-awaited parking study following the failure last year of plans to redevelop the White Street lot, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Red Bank council, these things happened:

Business Administrator Ziad Shehady attended his first council meeting, flanked by Councilman Erik Yngstrom and Clerk Pam Borghi. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Parking: The council approved the hiring of Walker Consultants, a New York City-based parking consultancy, to study the downtown’s parking needs.

Walker bid $52,350 to conduct the study, the lowest by far of six bids submitted, one of which was more than three times that price, according to the resolution awarding the contract.

Downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter has agreed to chip in $25,000 toward the cost of the study, which is expected to take up to five months to complete, Yngstrom has previously said.

Budget hearing: The public will get a chance to kick the tires on this year’s proposed spending plan at a presentation scheduled for 6:30 p.m., June 13, at borough hall.

Introduced last month, the plan would raise the local portion of property taxes by 4.7 percent, or $100 for the owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $366,000.

Historic preservation ordinance: A proposal to give the Historic Preservation Commission regulatory teeth is was tabled pending completion of planning board review.

Trash collection hours: The council adoption a law amendment to force commercial waste haulers to limit their pickups to the hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The change was made in response to complaints from downtown residents about noise, as well as from business owners who got stuck with noise citations over behavior they said they could not control.

Puppy mill ban: As redbankgreen previously reported, the council also tabled a proposed ban on retail sales of puppies and kittens unless they’re supplied to stores by shelters and rescue operations.

Bark Avenue Puppies, the town’s only such retailer, has vowed to sue the town if the ordinance is passed. A stakeholders’ meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

RiverCenter plan: Jim Scavone, who manages RiverCenter, announced that the 27-year-old organization is embarking on a review of its mission, as well as new strategies for fulfilling them, with a series of five public-input sessions.

The first is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, June 18, at the Oyster Point Hotel.

New administrator:  Ziad Shehady sat on the dais for the first time as a the new — and newly retitled — business administrator.

“Ziad has great abilities,” Councilman Michael Ballard told the audience. “I hear from everybody in the borough he’s energetic, he comes to work, he never leaves. We killed it with this appointment, and I’m so happy to have him here.”

Shehady, who started work May 14, replaces borough administrator Stanley Sickels, who retired in December after 21 years in the job. In the interim, consultant Ken DeRoberts, chief executive officer of Government Strategy Group, had filled the post.

An ordinance changing the job title from borough administrator to business administrator was introduced. Another ordinance, on salaries, referred to an”assistant business administrator,” a job that doesn’t exist, with a salary range of $121,000 to $135,000. But its presence in the ordinance does not mean that someone is being hired, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“We are not hiring an assistant business administrator,” he said, “and there is no plan to hire one.”

Shehady said he wouldn’t be pressing for an assistant.

“I can say as the new administrator that I don’t have the intent to recommend” the appointment of an assistant, he said.

“I don’t see the need, and why would we have the need when we have a crackerjack, rock-star administrator who can handle it?” Menna quipped.

Salaries: Nor are salaries being raised, though that second ordinance cited above might seem to indicate it, Shehady said.

“This ordinance is a procedural matter that is not atypical in most municipalities,” he said, in response to a question by independent council candidate Sue Viscomi. “What it does is create a range of salaries for positions, not for specific employees.”

A forthcoming resolution, meantime, will set the specific salaries for the positions listed, Shehady said.

Shared services: Government Services Group will underwrite the cost of a “shared services summit” to be held at the Red Bank Middle School on September 15, Ballard said.

The purpose of the event is to bring together local, county and state government representatives from the region “to talk about how we can share services, streamline costs, what they do better than we do, what we do better than they do, all in the spirit of cooperation and trying to find the best fit for everybody,” Ballard told the audience.

Ken DeRoberts and Joe Hartnett of Government Strategy Group will host the event “on their dime,” Ballard said.