Commission cites experience in picking labor law firm

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Haddonfield Sun
With two important contract negotiations looming over the borough, commissioners took the first step by hiring a local law firm to handle its negotiating duties. The commissioners appointed Brown and Connery to represent Haddonfield during its upcoming police and public works contract extensions.
Commissioner Ed Borden estimated that the salary, health benefits, and pension costs of these two contracts make up about 45 percent of the borough’s overall budget each year.
Borden and Mayor Tish Colombi voted in favor of Brown and Connery, citing its extensive experience in negotiating labor contracts and their past performance in negotiating contracts for the borough. Commissioner Jeff Kasko voted against the contract, citing the cost of their services as the main reason for his vote.
Brown and Connery submitted a rate of $180 an hour for attorney’s fees. For the two other firms interviewed for the contract, Ruderman and Glickman submitted a rate of $160 per hour and Gruccio, Pepper, DeSanto and Ruth submitted a rate of $150 an hour.
There’s no question Brown and Connery is an experienced firm, Kasko said, but the other firms were — in his opinion — just as experienced and could provide the same services at a lower cost.
All three candidates were equally qualified in dealing with labor contracts in his opinion, Kasko said.
Borden said seven firms submitted bids. The highest rate the borough received was $250 an hour. Gruccio, Pepper, DeSanto and Ruth put in the lowest bid.
While he agreed that all three firms were competent, Borden said it was important to go with the firm that would give Haddonfield the best opportunity to negotiate fair contracts with two important factions of the borough work force. During these economic times, he said, it’s important for the borough to keep costs down and spend money in the short term to ensure significant savings in the long run.