A contracted position in township government that was not included in the 2012 operating budget may return.
The township council this week decided to solicit bids for the grantsman position, which had been eliminated from this year's township operating budget. The grantsman, as the title implies, is tasked with obtaining grant funding for the township.
For the past several years, the township has utilized the services of Bruno Associates, of Clifton, for the grantsman position. The company was paid $55,000 plus incentives of $10,000 last year to obtain various grants from private and governmental agencies for the township.
Council President John Ducey said this year, the council's Business and Finance Committee felt money could be saved by having township employees do the grant-finding work. But that plan has apparently not materialized.
"We had removed the grantsman in the hopes that an employee could write our grants for us," said Council President John Ducey. "The mayor is in charge of personnel, and he will not allow an employee to do that job. So we do need to have an outside source find grants for us and get the grants for us."
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis was a vocal opponent of cutting the grantsman position during the period of time when the township council was crafting the operating budget, touting the fact that the grantsman yielded hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in grants provided to the township, and sometimes local organizations through funding the township received on their behalf.
Acropolis told Brick Patch there are not enough employees to fill the duties of a grantsman, and he did not support adding any new positions. Acropolis said previously, Anthony Lazroe, a leader of the township Democratic organization, had the township grant writing job.
"I'm not going to pay an employee benefits, health care and a salary to write grants part time," Acropolis said. "We don't have extra people sitting around, doing nothing, where they would have the time, energy and expertise necessary" to write grants.
Councilwoman Susan Lydecker said the initial decision against retaining grantsman services should not reflect poorly on Bruno, whose contract with the township ended June 7.
"They do a very good job, but it's not about how good of a job they do," said Lydecker said. "It's about what money we can save for the town and what money we can get for the town at the least cost to the town."
The bid specification for the grantsman position will be changed from previous years, council members said.
Business Administrator Scott Pezarras said the Business and Finance Committee would prefer a more performance-based contract this time around.
"We want to give it an outside-of-the-box approach," said Councilman Dan Toth.
Township employees do write some grants, such as state Department of Transportation and Green Acres grants, Pezarras said.