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New Village Charter Maintains Official Titles, No Stipends

Village President Alex Torpey called it a 'shortsighted and disrespectful decision' to not change titles and add stipends.

The South Orange Board of Trustees adopted a new Village Charter in a 4-1 vote, Monday, that left out controversial topics the Trustees could not agree upon.

The Board could not agree on changing the title of the Village President to Mayor and the Board of Trustees to Village Council or adding stipends for elected officials with $1,800 for Trustees and $2,400 for the Village President.

On Dec. 23, after much discussion, The Board passed a revised version of the Village Charter on first readinf, which did not include stipends or title changes.

On Monday, the charter passed on second reading and was adopted by the Board of Trustees.

Trustees Sheena Collum, Walter Clarke, Mark Rosner, and Steve Schnall voted in favor while Trustee Deborah Davis Ford  voted against. Trustee Howard Levison was absent from the meeting.

“This ordinance makes a handful of changes to our charter,” said Village President Alex Torpey during a previous meeting. “A bunch of them are outdated, gender specific and parts of it talk about local laws that are now trumped by state statute.”

Torpey and Trustee Sheena Collum, a member of the Charter Review Committee were proponents of the title changes and stipends since the items passed in a 2011 referendum.

“This is a fairly shortsighted and disrespectful decision,” said Torpey. “It seems pretty obvious the community has asked us to make these changes, both the recommendations that came from the Charter Review Committee and the public that overwhelmingly supported these on the ballot.”

Over the course of several meetings, at least a dozen residents have taken the podium, with a majority against the stipends and titles.

Now that the Charter has been adopted it will go on a long journey through the state legislature, which could take years for it to be finally approved.

Michael Goldberg January 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM
Nice to see this issue FINALLY put to bed with the radical changes to the Charter (title changes and stipends) omitted. Perhaps Alex Torpey will now finally start using the title he was elected to (Village President) instead of "Mayor".
Brandon McKoy January 29, 2014 at 06:11 PM
This news is disappointing and, quite frankly, sad. The fact that the Trustees on this Board failed to carry out and implement the consensus of the community (as made apparent through referendum vote) and, instead, be overly and unnecessarily influenced by a loud (and infinitesimally small) minority does nothing to engender confidence in its ability to make the right decision, even when it is an easy decision. It speaks to a significant lack of leadership and courage among the Trustees, a sad fact that does not portend good tidings for the future of this village. For such an easy decision, this outcome is simply indicative of a failure in government by individuals who were elected to represent the consensus of the community, and such actions can no longer be acceptable.

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