Merchantville/Cherry Hill merger stalled

Merchantville/Cherry Hill merger stalled

The Merchantville Borough/Cherry Hill Township Consolidation Commission met last night to update the few residents in attendance on the status of the proposed merger between the two municipalities.

Vice-Chairman Rich James said several members of the commission met with Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn’s staff, including Business Administrator Lenore Rosner and Township Solicitor Bob Wright, to discuss issuing an RFP to open bidding to for an organization to perform a municipal merger study.

At a previous meeting, commissioners said neither municipality was ready to foot the bill to pay for a municipal study.

At last night’s meeting, James reported that the process was moving slower than expected.

“As of this date, (the) Cherry Hill administration is not prepared to assume the role in the RFP. One of the governments has to issue, facilitate and open the process and function as a fiduciary agent,” James said.

James said commissioners Tom Yarnall, Rosemari Hicks and George Wilkinson, who resigned prior to the meeting, were told by township officials they were not ready to move forward due to possible legal implications and responsibilities of being the agency that puts out the RPF.

Cherry Hill resident Colleen Horiates asked the commission why Merchantville, then, couldn’t assume responsibility for the RFP.

James said the borough only has one full-time employee and that the burden would be too big for that one employee and the part-time staff.

Commissioners said they would get in touch with the state Department of Community Affairs to try and square away the details of issuing an RFP.

Until those questions are answered, James said, the commission would not meet.

“From my perspective, the RFP process has to be solved before we can proceed with anything else,” James said.

Also at the meeting, James also announced a commissioner shuffle.

Since the last meeting, Pat McCargo of Cherry Hill resigned, bumping up Elliot Stomel from an alternate to take her place.

Wilkinson resigned and alternate Dan Fiedler took his place.

Those remaining on the commission include chairman Roger Dennis, James, Kathy Birmingham, Hicks, Cherry Hill Board of Education President Seth Klukoff, Merchantville Councilman Anthony Perno, former Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt and Yarnall.