By JULIA BONAVITACOLA
For Union County HAWK
GARWOOD — The Garwood Council approved changes to the borough bylaws that would change the roles and makeup of council committees. The ordinances were introduced during Monday’s meeting of the governing body.
Borough Administrator Kyle Harris introduced the changes during his report. “What it comes down to is improving your communication as well as having better council oversight on some of our operations within the borough,” he said. Mr. Harris said that he collaborated with the mayor and council on the changes that could be made and reviewing the bylaws currently in place.
“Two of the bigger changes that were identified were in the committee section of the bylaws. The proposal eliminates the Laws and Licenses Committee and replaces it with a Community Engagement Committee,” said Mr. Harris. The new Community Engagement Committee would oversee recreation, celebrations, senior activities and historical committees.
Another change within the committees is adding “personnel” to the Finance Committee description. “Personnel and finance go hand in hand and personnel didn’t really have any council oversight on that. So I thought it was important to have council members who were a little more involved in our personnel management,” said Mr. Harris. The Garwood Council will now have a member to provide oversight on personnel matters such as salaries and hiring within the borough.
“I have to say…sometimes being involved [in the municipality] the last 10 years as I have, it’s not always so easy to make changes,” said Mayor Sara Todisco. “It was important to me that certain things have homes such as personnel, that that’s clearly laid out.” She said it was important that departments like the Office of Emergency Management and Shade Tree Committee are formally a part of the Garwood government and given proper oversight.
“When it came to deleting Laws and Licenses Committee, I really did struggle with that for a time. It’s something that’s been there a long time and has done good work over the years,” said Mayor Todisco. “However, the demands of our governing body are changing.”
Mayor Todisco said that community engagement is important in Garwood now that the municipality has the technology to be more in touch with borough residents than ever before. She said that the proposed committee for community engagement would be a great way to connect the recreation, celebration and historical committees, committees that interact with the residents directly.
Mayor Todisco said that all of the roles and jobs that the current Laws and Licenses Committee takes care of would be assigned to other “more appropriate homes.
“For instance, parking ordinances may be something in the Police Committee instead, since the police chief is so involved in that anyway. Something regarding personnel, administration may fall under finance and personnel instead of always finding the home of Laws and Licenses,” she said.
The main purpose of the Laws and Licenses Committee was to recommend raffle licenses. Mayor Todisco said that this role is much more streamlined now and is mostly done in administrative offices.
She said that the bylaws are a living document and could be changed in five or 10 years should the needs of the borough change in that time. She fully supports the changes that Mr. Harris has proposed for the committees.
Mr. Harris said that the bylaws could be approved after they had been read at two consecutive meetings to the council and borough residents in attendance. This would mean the new bylaws could be approved no earlier than Thursday, December 9.
The next council meeting will be held on December 9 at Borough Hall. The meeting will again be on Thursday after November’s meetings took place on Monday. The meeting also will be livestreamed on YouTube through the Garwood Borough channel.
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