Town tax attorney fired

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:55

    WEST MILFORD — Attorney Arthur Timins was discharged from his position as tax council to the township on Wednesday after a lengthy and muddled debate by the town council. Timins, who handled mainly tax foreclosures, failed to meet the requirements of a 2003 municipal ordinance. The law requires all attorneys who are either appointed or re-appointed to perform duties on behalf of the township to waive confidentiality of their disciplinary history. This professional history is contained within their individual Certificate of Ethical Conduct which is normally not made available to the public. Attorneys have only seven days from the date of their appointment to complete the necessary forms relinquishing the right to keep their ethical conduct history private. Failure to do so, explicitly written in the ordinance, demands an attorney "shall automatically forfeit his or her office or be discharged." Roseland-based Timins, who was not present at the meeting, has political links to the town due to his former role as treasurer of the West Milford Republican group and a contributor to the local GOP. These links had caused concern in the past — in particular at the time when a pay to play ordinance was being considered. Despite the apparent clarity of the council document Timins almost held onto his position courtesy of council members Joseph Elcavage and Paul Bailey. Elcavage immediately moved for the resolution to discharge Timins be tabled which was seconded by Bailey. Bailey said "The concern I have is the orderly transfer of the case load. If we change him now it might hinder progress of an orderly transition of whoever picks up the load. I'm not satisfied that exists yet." Elcavage believed that a previously submitted ethics waiver by Timins for a prior appointment may meet the requirement of the resolution however Township Attorney Fred Semrau's legal opinion was that a new waiver form had to be completed for each appointment. The vote to table the motion was approved by four votes to two with council members Robert Nolan and Carmelo Scangarello agreeing with Bailey and Elcavage. Council member James Warden insisted Timins had to be removed claiming the law must apply to everyone equally with no exceptions. Warden said "If he is not fired we are violating our oath and not upholding the law. It's clear, there's no wiggling room here, he needs to go." Township Administrator Richard Kunze interjected to advise that a tabled motion could be re-opened if one of those who prevailed in the vote to table moved for it to be re-introduced. Duly, Nolan moved the motion be reconsidered and Scangarello agreed to second Nolan's motion. On a vote to dismiss Timins the four votes of Council President Bill Gervens along with Nolan, Warden and Scangarello sealed the fate of the tax council despite the votes of Bailey and Elcavage.