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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake
Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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Montvale DPW workers pledge court fight against disbanding of department

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A representative for Montvale’s DPW workers said tonight that they have retained an attorney and are going to court to try and block a shared services plan with River Vale that the Borough Council narrowly approved Tuesday night.

The borough’s move essentially dissolves the department, as of Oct. 1: River Vale keeps its 12 workers and supervisor, while as many as five Montvale public works employees could end up unemployed, Montvale DPW worker Steve Hermann told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.

Citizens will notice, he said.

“River Vale, which covered its town with a crew of 12, will have to cover both towns with a road crew of 15,” he said.

“You’ll immediately see the difference in snow removal,” Hermann said. “We do snow removal with 13 trucks for 154 lane miles, including eight private contractors who drive the remaining trucks. River Vale uses 16 trucks for 127 lane miles.

“Add up that area: How are they going to be able to cover all that ground? How much is it going to cost to hire private contractors to try and make up the difference? There just won’t be enough manpower to cover the area.”

The need is greater in Montvale, which has many more businesses and much busier thoroughfares.

“We have 12 traffic lights,” Hermann said. “All are four-way intersections, most of them with multi-lanes. River Vale has two traffic lights, one of which is a three-way intersection.”

Residents opposing the move packed the room Tuesday night for the 3-2 vote that essentially dissolved the 53-year-old department. One councilman was absent.

Already approved by River Vale’s council, the new agency would be called The Pascack Valley Department of Public Works, with headquarters on Rivervale Road in River Vale and a satellite office on Memorial Drive in Montvale.

Montvale Councilwoman Leah LaMonica, who voted in favor of the move, said she doesn’t like change, “but we have to adjust to it.” Shared services are what will help small towns in New Jersey survive, she told the SRO crowd Tuesday night.

The decision was based, in part, on a merger feasibility study by Linda Murphy of LKM Consulting that predicted millions of dollars in savings over the next decade.

You can read a copy of it by clicking the image below:

But Hermann said that staffing levels and other numbers used in the study “have been in question…. In many cases, they’re skewed quite a bit.

“On top of that, there aren’t many supporting documents in the study,” he said. “It appears she arrived at her conclusions based on information that was given to her, as opposed to actually being researched.”

For instance, the $400,000 projected savings factored into the study includes a supervisor’s $190,000 salary, even though that supervisor will remain for the transition and an undetermined length of time beyond, Hermann said.

As an aside, he noted that Blue Book savings on vehicles included two that were “guessed at” because they were on the road when the fleet was being appraised.

Montvale officials budgeted roughly $15,000 for the study.

How it was done will be one of the arguments presented by the DPW workers’ attorney in seeking a temporary restraining order blocking the move, Hermann said.

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