From Mayor Runfeldt - April 19, 2021
It has come to my attention that there are a few posts on Facebook which suggest that the town is being less than transparent regarding a personnel decision because it is not posted on the agenda. This could not be further from the truth. First, personnel decisions are rarely placed on the agenda. Some issues are, such as contract negotiations and certain salary discussions. Most hiring, firing, promotion and discipline issues, however, are the responsibility of the Mayor as the Chief Executive and/or Appointing Authority of the borough. This is a responsibility that you have given to me each of the times you have elected me to perform the job for you. I take these, and every, decision very seriously and do my very best to make sure that all my decisions are in the best interests of the town, now and for the future. Mayor David Runfeldt
At the heart of the issue is a request by one of our department heads to move to a different state and keep her position within the Borough. The request was necessary due to a family health issue. The state of New Jersey allows a waiver for exactly this type of request and before the Borough would allow this to happen the waiver must be successfully obtained from the state.
I was initially opposed to the idea, as almost every department head I have hired or appointed has been from Lincoln Park or a neighboring town. Remembering how difficult it was to fill this particular position to begin with and how well this person has performed for the benefit of the town, I realized it might be in the best interests to at least look into how it would work. First and foremost was the fact that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many instances where remote working, including that of supervisory management level professionals, has worked out seamlessly. I personally know many people in the private sector who have not been in their office for a year, and several who have already been notified that they may never be a need to return to their physical office as their production and efficiency from home is just as good as or better than going to the office. If this is a trend that continues, I would like Lincoln Park to be ahead of the curve in this issue and not trying to catch up from behind.
I do realize that if we decide to move forward with this request, there will be issues that come up. I will likely have to deal with similar requests from other employees. If there are other requests, they will likewise be evaluated on what is in the best interests of the Borough. It is important to realize that there are some positions which remote working would be impossible, and some such as this position which could be very successful. Further, if this request is moved forward, it comes with the understanding that there will be a trial period and if it is not working as well as anticipated, the Borough can end the arrangement without consequence.
I hope that with this information you can see that there is nothing nefarious going on with regards to this important policy decision. Unfortunately, no information was given on the Facebook posts other than to lead you to believe something dishonest was occurring. I hope that many of you will attend the virtual meeting tonight. In my 15 years as Mayor, I have always made it known that I wish there were more public at our meetings. If there were better attendance regularly you would likely see for yourself that not only do I do my best to ensure the present and future well-being of our town, but so does each of your elected Council members, my administrative staff and almost every employee of this great town.