Efficiency audit shows areas town can improve

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WEST MILFORD – A recently completed Matrix Consulting Group efficiency audit found a number of changes that could make the township work smarter, according to the $65,000 report.

“It’s good to have something in writing,” Acting Mayor Tim Wagner said of the study.

While many of the firm’s recommendations deal with the internal workings of the township, others would have an effect on residents coming into town hall to do business.

According to the report, the town should move pet licensing from the Health Department to the Township Clerk’s office and also transfer animal control authority and operations to the police department.

The report also suggests that the Engineering Department should become part of Public Works.

Other recommendations included scanning all paper documents into digital copies to make them more available across departments and to the public.

The study also made the case for better information technology throughout the organization as well as redesigning the township’s website to make it more user friendly.

“The website is important to residents,” Wagner said. “You want it to be user friendly to navigate. Residents go there for information and visitors to the township go there as well.”

According to Wagner, the site gets around 60,000 unique visitors last year.

A copy of the report is available for residents to see at town hall and has some police information redacted for security purposes.

Wagner said the report gives the town a blueprint of things to do moving forward depending on the costs of the changes.

Some of the recommendations, he said, can be implemented easily and quickly without costing the township anything, but other changes, like updating the 911 system technology, would have to be prepared for.

While some members of the public have criticized the report, and its $65,000 price tag during recent Township Council meetings, Wagner said it was needed and represents a very small portion of the town’s $34 million budget this year.

Some of the other changes recommended in the report, such as keeping a vacancy in the police department open, have to fall under the jurisdiction of the chief of police and depend on that department’s internal policies.

The report recommended keeping a detective position open following a retirement.

The report also included a survey of township employees that asked about how they felt regarding their workload and the level of service they offer the community.

It found that employees feel the service level to residents is good, but many feel over worked.

About 46 percent of the survey respondents were from the police department, according to the report.

The report also found that the township’s staffing levels were in line with similar size towns in the state, and do not “present a significant amount of excess that can be reduced.”

Overall, the study recommends hiring one information technology person to be divided between public safety and general government functions and reducing a senior custodial services position as well as keeping the recently vacated detective position open in the police department for a net of cutting one employee.

See full report here: http://strausnews.com/docs/WMM-CostEfficiencyAudit-redacted.pdf

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West Milford, NJ