ALLENTOWN – Members of the Allentown Borough Council have introduced an ordinance that, if adopted, will create the new position of borough administrator.
Council President Rob Strovinsky, Councilman John A. Elder III, Councilman Michael Drennan, Councilwoman Martha Johnson and Councilman Dan Payson voted “yes” on a motion to introduce the ordinance during a meeting that was conducted via Zoom on Nov. 24.
Councilwoman Angela Anthony was absent from the meeting.
A public hearing on the ordinance has been scheduled for the council’s Dec. 15 meeting, which will also be conducted via Zoom. Information on how to access the meeting is provided on the borough’s website.
Asked why borough officials are taking this step now, Mayor Thomas Fritts told the Examiner that “with so many initiatives and new programs and projects taking place in Allentown, it was time for a change to streamline municipal operations for the 21st century.
“In short, between the governing body’s aggressive agenda and the ever-increasing requirements placed upon the borough by the state and its agencies, the time has come for Allentown to be professionally managed with a full-time, central administrative position to coordinate all of the borough’s operations.
“That is, to meet our residents’ needs, our borough will greatly benefit from one point of contact, and especially one on-site decision-maker to handle day-to-day operations while the mayor and council members focus on their true charge: legislation and policy making.
“Most other municipalities in New Jersey are operated by a central administrator, or a manager in certain cases, and we believe it is time for Allentown to join that modern model of municipal management,” Fritts said.
The mayor said he is not certain if Allentown has ever had an administrator, but he said there has not been one since 1972 when the current municipal code was adopted.
Asked if there are any current municipal employees who could qualify to work as Allentown’s administrator, Fritts said, “We cannot discuss personnel or hiring matters until there is a successful candidate under state law.”
In other business during the Nov. 24 meeting, Fritts offered his congratulations to Elder and to Erica Torsiello, who won three-year terms on the Borough Council in the Nov. 3 municipal election.
According to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, Elder received 561 votes and Torsiello received 536 votes to win the seats in a four-person race that also included former councilman Rob Schmitt, who received 453 votes, and Linda Cotte, who received 411 votes.
Schmitt ran as a Democrat; Elder, Torsiello and Cotte ran as independent candidates.
Elder is completing his first term and will serve his second term from January 2021 through December 2023.
Torsiello will begin serving her first term when she is sworn in during the January reorganization meeting.
Fritts said the fact that four residents put their hats in the political ring “shows that people want to serve their community.”
Torsiello, who was attending the meeting via Zoom, said she is looking forward to working with Fritts and with council members Elder, Strovinsky, Payson, Drennan and Johnson.
Anthony did not seek re-election this year.