Wyckoff residents got their first look at the township's new governing body during a yearly organization meeting Sunday afternoon.
Major changes in the committee include the appointment of Chris DePhillips as mayor, former mayor Rudy Boonstra as deputy mayor, and the swearing-in of the victors of the November election. The agenda also included a controversial decision to effectively unseat Dorothy Voorman-Fish, a long-serving member of the Wyckoff Board of Health.
In his nominating remarks, 2011 Mayor Kevin Rooney referred to DePhillips as a "dear friend" who "cares deeply about our community."
"It's unique to find an individual that not only possesses the care and knowledge — the desire — to do this job, but will lead this community through 2012," Rooney said.
DePhillips used to assess the challenges and strengths of the township — praising Town Hall employees and Wyckoff residents for service to the community.
The new mayor also announced that Rooney would serve as finance chair and that the committee would continue to aggressively pursue a strategy that would keep taxes low for Wyckoff residents.
"All facets of township government will continue to investigate regionalized services with other municipalities or the county," DePhillips said. "We will continue to hold the line on our budget and we will take a hard look at whether the township can afford to pay for a town-wide reassessment or reevaluation of our property taxes."
Rooney, after the reorganization, said that he and DePhillips would work together to pursue the goals outlined in the mayor's speech.
"This year, as it was in the past, [the goal] is to run a very fiscally conservative town," Rooney said. "Our responsibility to the residents is to keep taxes as low as possible — I will strive to do that and I am committed to doing that."
"I plan on rolling up my sleeves and starting that tomorrow," he added.
He pointed to shared services between the township, Franklin Lakes and Oakland as a way costs have been curbed in the past.
"Over the past years we've saved in excess of $150,000 through that group alone in shared services," Rooney added, indicating that the committee would look to use similar initiatives to expand the scope of shared services.
New Committeeman Doug Christie said he was excited to tackle the challenges of being the new guy on the dais.
"It's a great group of guys, and this is something I've always aspired to do," Christie said. "I'm looking forward to it, I like the committee assignments."
Christie said he had known several of the committee members previously, but cited a "personal friendship" with Rooney beyond Town Hall.
He and Boonstra have served with the Wyckoff Volunteer Fire Department for more than 20 years, Christie said.
Christie, who served as zoning board chairman in 2011, is the owner of Wyckoff-based Christie Construction.
The committee's unanimous vote to select DePhillips as mayor stood in contrast to the vote on the consent agenda, in which lone Democrat Brian Scanlan was the only committeeman to vote no.
Scanlan said that his opposition was to the appointment of Boonstra as deputy mayor as well as a number of appointments, including the decision to unseat Voorman-Fish, who has served on the BOH for more than 30 years.
Voorman-Fish, who claimed she was "put out to pasture" as punishment for a letter of support she wrote for Scanlan's reelection campaign last year, did not attend the reorganization meeting Sunday.
"My concern is for the community," Voorman-Fish said. "The township committee doesn't understand what the Board of Health does that is so necessary for the township."
The committee didn't remove the former Board of Health president from the board entirely, but granted her a one-year, non-voting, non-leadership position.
DePhillips defended the move to new leadership on the Board of Health, saying it was not a partisan move.
"There have been longstanding concerns with leadership and management on the Board of Health," DePhillips said, adding that the 1-year position was a "compromise solution" agreed upon by all parties and felt it would help the BOH transition toward new leadership.
DePhillips declined to elaborate on the nature of those concerns.
Scanlan said he was also disappointed that the committee failed to appoint Brian Hubert to the Wyckoff Zoning Board.
"He has the intelligence, knowledge, and experience that the zoning board requires, and precisely the right temperament," Scanlan said after the reorganization meeting. "That board in particular has big decisions to make."
Hubert was appointed to a one-year, alternate position on the Design Review Advisory Committee.
DePhillips spoke about Scanlan's no-vote later Sunday and said that the Democrat had been consulted extensively — along with the other committeemen — about the appointments and the deputy mayor position.
"I respect his opinion, but in expressing his displeasure with the deputy mayor appointment he then voted against the entire consent agenda and all the other appointments about which he was consulted."
DePhillips said that Boonstra, the most senior member of the township committee, specialized in land use and public safety issues.
"I will certainly work closely with Rudy, I look to him for advice and counsel on matters," DePhillips said.
He added that Scanlan had not communicated to him the reasons for his no vote.
Scanlan however has not minced words about his desire to be Wyckoff's mayor.
"My four township committee colleagues decided not to name me mayor or deputy mayor for 2012," Scanlan wrote on his Facebook page Monday. "They took this decision despite my winning the popular vote by 19% and 35%, respectively, over my two challengers."
Scanlan and Christie beat out Tom Madigan in November 2011 for two vacant seats on the committee — the vote was neither a referendum on the mayor nor deputy mayor position.
In that election Scanlan earned 2,580 votes or 38.7 percent of the vote, Christie earned 2,170 votes or 32.6 percent of the vote and Madigan earned 1,913 votes or 28.7 percent of the vote.
Holding the position of deputy mayor is traditionally seen as a one-year procession toward being the next mayor, and Scanlan — who was a registered Republican until 2008 — indicated he feels Republicans had boxed him out of ever holding the committee's top spot.
The deputy mayor position does not guarantee ascension to mayor the following year.
The consent agenda also introduced two ordinances — one boosting the maximum number of sergeants and lieutenants allowable in the ranks of the Wyckoff Police Department, and another which regulates snow removal.
New volunteer firefighters and several new township appointments were sworn in by Township Clerk Joyce Santimauro.