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Case Closed: Boroughs Complete Court Merger

Mayors of Mendham and Chester Borough sign legal documents for their shared service arrangement to begin in 2014.

Months of behind-the-scenes negotiation ended with a flurry of signatures Monday night as Mendham Borough and Chester Borough signed the paperwork making official their interlocal court agreement for 2014 and beyond.

"I feel a real kinship and a real friendship with Mayor Henry," Chester Borough Mayor Bob Davis said. "It is an arrangement that is beneficial for both towns."

Mendham Borough Mayor Neil Henry said that while their natural partner may seem to be Mendham Township, it made sense for his governing body to look elsewhere because the deal made financial sense.

Under the new agreement, Mendham Borough is projected to receive $44,000 in profit right out of the gate. 

"Essentially we go from losing approximately $45,000 to making almost $45,000 during year one," Henry said. "Its almost a $90,000 swing."

There are also similar financial benefits projected for Chester Borough. 

"The cost split of the court will initially be 60 percent Chester Borough and 40 percent Mendham Boro. That was decided after a review of summons and complaints by each town over the recent three years," Davis said. "The cost of the shared court is only about $20,000 higher so the split saves Chester Boro taxpayers at least $40,000 per year."

Just prior to the signing, Henry said after taking the facility tour of Chester Borough Hall with his council they were already discussing new ways in which to develop shared services.

"The fact is we are forging new, stronger relationships that is a testament to what we have in common," Henry said.

Not everyone is happy with the decision to shake up the court system. Mendham Borough had been partners with Mendham Township for decades before deciding to go in a different direction. Former Mendham Township mayor and current Committeeman Sam Tolley told the Observer-Tribune that breaking apart the Mendham Municipal Court was “pathetic.”

Deputy Mayor Maribeth Thomas said she was disappointed in the outcome.

 “It kind of feels like your boyfriend does not want to date you anymore, while at the same time he has a new girlfriend waiting in the wings,” said Thomas. “I am disappointed in the communication breakdown...and I am not sure why it happened.”

Current Mendham Township Mayor Rick Merkt told Patch that he respected the Borough’s decision to “pursue another path that they feel is in the best interest of the Borough and its residents."

For his part, Davis said he hoped other communities might look into sharing services with Chester Borough going forward.

"It makes sense to share services and equipment. There is no reason for each individual town have expensive pieces of equipment if they can be shared," Davis said.

Henry Krinkle June 19, 2013 at 12:21 AM
That really does suck! Mendham Township's governing body should hang their heads in shame.
Rick Blood June 19, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Was this shared service agrement really that hard to negotiate? What guided the Township's negotiation strategy, arrogance or did they not consider the consequences of thier actions? Thanks for the budget impact.
Brian June 19, 2013 at 01:14 PM
The relationship with Mendham Boro, and in fact other communities, went down hill as a result of former mayor Frank Cioppetini. The current committee never succeded in mending the fences and should not be surprised if their merger initiative does not succeed
Brian June 19, 2013 at 02:10 PM
It should be noted that the court system revenue is based on the number of summons issued by each municipality. When it became evident that Mendham Township was receiving more revenue than Mendham Boro, there should have been a change in the funding formula from a 50% - 50% cost to a more equitable cost for Mendham Boro. This demonstrates poor negotiation skills by Mendham Township.
Domino June 19, 2013 at 04:05 PM
This is an excellent example of what municipalities can accomplish when they openly work together. Mendham Township's style of covert, backstabbing attempts to subvert the status quo by recruiting candidates to run for elected office in Mendham Boro and the Chesters in order to serve its goals, is not. The comments by the Mendham Township Committee members were particularly amusing. Ms. Thomas sounds like she was jilted by her high school boyfriend and never recovered from it. The only thing "pathetic" about Mr. Tolley is that silly fire department hat he always seems to be wearing when the cameras are around.
Brian June 19, 2013 at 04:46 PM
A word of caution there are a lot of supporters of the current mayor and members of the township committee. They may not appreciate negative comments
Noreen Staples June 20, 2013 at 03:38 AM
any word on how Twp will make up shortfall of funds?
ChangeInChester June 20, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Before criticizing another municipality's governing body, take a look at the place where you live. Can anyone not forget about how Mayor Short was vacationing on a beach somewhere while his residents tried to piece their lives back together after Sandy? And then, his infamous letter to his community feigning concern for them while he applied SPF 30? "Subvert the status quo". That speaks volumes, Jeff. Yes, wouldn't it be nice for you and WT if your candidate for the WMRHSD Board of Ed, Gary Lakritz, was elected? And wouldn't it be nice if WT's friend and patriarch Bill Cogger is elected for a 3rd "status quo" term? I think I hear thunder, Jeff.
Domino June 20, 2013 at 01:17 PM
I think you hear voices in your head. Why don't you contact the NY Mets and see if they need your potent bat in the line-up. You're 0 for 3 so far...

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