Morris Township's governing body took a first step toward dissolving the municipality's own court system and joining with Madison's by passing a resolution at Wednesday night’s Morris Township Committee meeting.
If all goes as planned, Morris Township would join up with Harding and both Chathams in the Joint Municipal Court hosted by Madison on Jan. 1.
According to Morris Township Mayor Peter Mancuso, significant savings could be seen for Morris Township residents.
“It is one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make,” Mancuso said. “But to me it comes down to three things. First, we could be saving $150,000. Second, it has the support of the police chief. And third, when we do this we have six months to get out of the deal. We sign a four-year agreement, but if we don’t like it we have six months to pull out.”
Committeeman Jeff Grayzel said Madison's court offers stronger security measures.
“Yes, there are financial incentives but I have a strong issue with the security of our court and the events at the Naval Yards in Washington, DC brought that to a head with me this week,” Grayzel said. “Moving the court to Madison will provide protection that we don’t have here now.”
Committeeman Daniel Caffrey abstained, saying there were too many variables in the cost savings for him to be comfortable voting.
Committeeman Bruce Sisler, who said he was concerned about hidden costs and the loss of local control, also abstained.
The next step in the process, according to Morris Township Administrator Timothy Quinn, will be for the other towns to pass similar resolutions at their next meeting and then the entire plan gets sent to the assignment judge for approval.
“It goes to Judge [Thomas] Weisenbeck for approval,” Quinn said. “And if he signs off on it we would start the new court arrangement Jan. 1.”