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.