The Gloucester Township Council held its annual reorganization meeting on Jan. 4 at the municipal building, where Orlando Mercado and Tracey Trotto were unanimously reelected president and vice president, respectively.
During the session, council established its meeting schedule, as well as its rules and policies, although this year’s timetable will change slightly as it pertains to the way business is conducted.
During public comment, resident Sam Sweet noted that council workshop meetings have been moved to the same day as the first council meeting of each month, one hour before the start of the regular meeting.
Sweet asked council why such a change was made.
“This is something we’ve discussed at a workshop … Our attendance at our workshops, if we added up the amount of individuals that have attended our workshops throughout the year, probably wouldn’t have reached double digits,” Mercado explained.
“I think it’s a better use of council’s time and the public’s time if we have workshops preceding our first council meeting.”
In recent weeks and months, there have been frequent discussions between residents and council during public portions of the latter’s meetings about increased collaboration and teamwork on numerous issues, such as the township budget and redevelopment projects.
Sweet also inquired about the appointment of Blue Wire Media as a media consultant for the township. He questioned the company’s purpose and how much the township is paying for its services.
According to Mercado, council had on hand during the meeting the recommendation from township administrators regarding approval of the appointment, but he was unable to definitely state the cost of a one-year contract.
Business Administrator Tom Cardis said he believes the contract is for approximately $7,000 per month, but added that officials would review the contract to determine its correct amount at the next council meeting.
Mercado also indicated what services Blue Wire Media provides for the township.
“The videos that are produced on our social media, those that are put on our township’s website, if you look at the virtual tree lighting ceremony that’s also part Blue Wire Media’s work,” Mercado noted. “In the past, we’ve also used them for recycling, any of the messages that the mayor has and for website design.”
Sweet then questioned council’s decision to approve the appointment despite not being able to state definitively the contract’s cost.
“So the contract could be for $150,000 or it could be for $50,000, but you guys don’t know that?” he asked. “You voted on that to make them the appointment based on Mr. Cardis and the mayor’s recommendation? Wouldn’t it behoove us to know how much they’re charging us.”
Mercado said the township approves its bill list monthly, a list Blue Wire Media is on, given that its role in the township is not new. The township was unable to provide exact contract specifications, he added, because they were not on hand, and not because the township is unaware of what it will ultimately be charged.