At the Oct. 16 Fanwood Council Meeting, Mayor Colleen Mahr announced that she learned Scotch Plains added an item to their agenda to hire a consultant on the issue of merging the police departments of both Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
The two towns have been meeting for over a year to work out issues on whether it makes sense to merge the police departments of both towns into one.
Mahr pointed out that she felt blindsided and that the two towns were supposed to meet for their usual police department merger meeting in only two days(Oct. 18).
"I'm angry and frustrated by them, they could have discussed it with us on Thursday," she said.
When speaking to Mahr she added that she understands Scotch Plains does not need Fanwood's approval when making a decision. But she looked at the hiring of consultant without notifying them more of a courtesy issue.
She also added that she did not understand the rush to hire a consultant for $4,000, which they never mentioned wanting to move forward with.
After speaking with Mayor Mary DePaola, she told Patch that Scotch Plains next council meeting was not until Nov. 20, so the council felt to move the process forward they should approve the consultant at the Oct. 16 meeting.
DePaola added that Mahr mentioned in past meetings that a set of a objective eyes would be helpful.
Mahr said that she had brought up concerns during meetings, but they did not seem to be taken into consideration.
Additionally, DePaola mentioned that at the two meetings Mahr was absent for, the Scotch Plains team got together on issues that impacted the entire organization, not just the Scotch Plains Police Department.
Mahr told Patch that she was unsure of what she was to do now that Scotch Plains hired a consultant.
"Do I get a consultant too"," she said.
Patch spoke to Mahr prior to the two towns police department merger meeting.
Following the meeting, DePaola said the Scotch Plains members told Mahr and the Fanwood members that she would set up a meeting with the consultant.
Once everyone had a chance to meet with the consultant, Mahr could decide how she wants to be added to the contract, which DePaola held off on signing.
To move forward, Mahr can decide to pay into the consultant Scotch Plains has hired, leave the consultant to work under Scotch Plains' pay, or hire a separate consultant for Fanwood.
Being that no one on either side has law enforcement experience, DePaola and the Scotch Plains team agreed that an objective set of eyes would help them move forward on the handful of difficult issues they have left to work out.
"We are eager to be partners with Fanwood, this is just a minor bump in the road," DePaola said.