South Orange Board of Trustees Assumes Responsibilities of Board of Health

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The South Orange Board of Trustees officially assumed the responsibilities of the Board of Health on Monday, March 14.

The Board of Trustees voted to adopt ordinance 2016-03 “amending section 5-74 of the Code of the Township of South Orange Village and designating the Board of Trustees to serve as the Board of Health.”

The ordinance was introduced at the Board of Trustees meeting on February 22.

Although the ordinance states that the Board of Health will be abolished, Village President Sheena Collum said in February that the group would be restructured to act as an advisory committee and that the “passionate” volunteers currently serving on the Board of Health would still be actively working with the town in a capacity to be determined.

Collum explained in February that the idea to transfer responsibilities came during strategic planning meetings throughout the summer and fall of 2015, when town leaders recognized that its two health-related employees — the health officer and the animal control officer — were, in effect, being overseen by 17 people, that is, the BOT and the BOH combined with administration.

(Read Village Green’s coverage of the ordinance introduction here.)

At the second reading of the ordinance on March 14, only one community member, stalwart meeting attendee Alyssa Aronson, commented on the ordinance. Aronson quoted the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in questioning why the Board of Health was being abolished.

In response to Aronson, Collum responded, “It was broke. We had 17 people overseeing two staff members” — all at a time, Collum pointed out, when the Township is looking at shared services and efficiencies.

Trustee Mark Rosner noted that it had become difficult to find volunteers to staff the Board of Health and that many meetings did not attain a quorum.

The ordinance passed by a vote of 5-0 (Trustee Jeff DuBowy was absent).

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