Lobbyist willing to work for township

| 20 Sep 2012 | 01:35

— The mayor and members of the township council had their introduction Wednesday night to William Pascrell III, a county attorney and partner in a lobbying firm, who may soon represent the township in its fight against the City of Newark.
Pascrell addressed the township officials, telling them about his past relationship with the city and why he feels he can indeed help the township change the way it is compensated for the over 16,000 acres of watershed property it protects.
"I think I can play a unique role trying to put forward an agenda to allow this town and others to be properly and fairly compensated," said Pascrell.
But, he cautioned, it would not be an easy task.
"I don't want to make it seem like I can snap my finger," he said.
What he can provide to the township, he said, is his experience of 18 years with the lobbying firm Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc. and the experience of his 14 partners and associates with the firm. They are bipartisan, working with both Republicans and Democrats in Trenton. He said they have good relationships with key players in Trenton, both in the legislative and executive branch. Just because he has a 'D' at the end of his name, he commented, doesn't mean he won't work with everyone.
Pascrell said the legislation that was created decades ago regarding the towns having watershed property is outdated. The populations of the six towns with watershed property have doubled in the past decade, he said. That alone puts a significant burden on the governing bodies to provide services. And, in West Milford's case, with Newark appealing its assessments and winning, the burden of paying for the services falls squarely on the individual and commercial taxpayers.

Not tipping their hand

The governing body and Pascrell agreed to come up with a strategy in executive session, if he is hired by them. They don't want to make public their strategy in dealing with the issue ahead of time.
Pascrell said he worked with Newark for many years starting back in the 1990s, under then-Mayor Sharpe James. He said he works well with current Mayor Cory Booker and the city council, adding that they are "reasonable people."
The township has gone to its legislators asking that a surcharge be put on the water or that a change be made in the way the land is assessed and taxed. Nothing has come to fruition.

Band together

Pascrell did recommend that the township reach out to the other watershed communities and band together, something they've already started. He said together they would represent 70,000 residents of the state, a much more formidable number when dealing with legislators.
If the township decides to hire him and his firm, Pascrell said he would work out a strategy with township attorney Fred Semrau and the mayor and council, taking direction from them.
Pascrell said he has spoken to residents of the township about the situation and senses their frustration.
"I've talked to residents. There is a frustration around this," said Pascrell to the township.
An understatement for sure.

What are your thoughts about the township looking to hire Pascrell as a lobbyist? Go to westmilfordmessenger.com and share your thoughts.