Hightstown Mayor Questions If Sunshine Law Was Violated
The mayor said the Borough prides itself on transparency.
Hightstown’s mayor said Monday that council members were not being transparent by introducing two resolutions about the future of Borough Hall at the start of a past meeting, and questioned whether open public meeting laws were violated when the resolutions were drafted.
Council member Gail Doran introduced a resolution on June 4 calling for the future Borough Hall to be centrally located, and council member Susan Bluth introduced another resolution asking that council be kept informed of matters relating to Borough Hall. Both resolutions passed.
In the five days between the May 30 meeting where residents and organizations voiced their opinion on the ultimate location of Borough Hall and when the resolutions were introduced, Mayor Steve Kirson said he believes that a third person was involved with writing the two newly-introduced resolutions, but would not name any council members.
“I suspect that the sunshine laws were treaded on between the meetings of May 30 and June 4,” Kirson said in a statement Monday.
Borough Attorney Frederick Raffetto said he did not know if the open public meeting law was violated in this case specifically, but said if three members worked on the resolutions, it could be considered an “effective majority,” and four or more members would be a quorum.
Kirson said the Borough is one of the most transparent in Mercer County, posting council packets online prior to meetings. With the two newly-introduced resolutions not being posted prior to the meeting, Kirson said the public didn’t have a chance to voice their opinions.
“Hightstown prides itself on having an open and transparent government,” Kirson said. “I thought it was important that council members knew what I was thinking.”
A special meeting was held on May 31 where residents and several organizations voiced their opinion on the ultimate location of Borough Hall. The discussion was divided with some residents hoping to see the building end up downtown, and many organizations, including Downtown Hightstown, Greater Hightstown East Windsor Improvement Project (GHEWIP) and the Historic Preservation Committee, urged council to relocate to an area that was not prone to flooding. Kirson said 75 percent of the public who spoke was in favor of moving Borough Hall.
The final location of Borough Hall has not been decided, but council is having an architectural firm assess the needs for Borough Hall, the police department and court in order to compare options in town.