Meet Manager Jack Hadge

By Beverly O'Shea, Staff Writer

The Suburbanite, Wednesday, February 15, 1989. p. 5

Jack Hadge received some bad news during his first week as the new township manager.

A letter from Trenton informed Hadge that the townsip will not receive an expected $250,000 in state aid -- which amounts to almost another tax point that will have to be collected to pay for the nearly $25 million proposed township budget.

Council members were hoping to keep the tax increase to six or seven cents despite already mandated large increase for the Bergen County Utility Authority sewer operations and health insurance coverage.

During an intervew last week, Hadge faulted Gov. Thomas Kean for coming in with a state budget showing a very slight increase while municipalities are left to pick up the expense of drastically reduced aid.

"I believe that it bacome an important priority of the state of New Jersey to recognize that the local property tax cannot constantly be relied upon to provide the revenue base to provide services," Hadge said.

Hadge said the cuts in state assistance, added to the state-mandated services that have to be paid for by local taxes, really hit municipalities like Teaneck that are primarily residential communities. The Township, which was planned to be mostly homes, has no commercial base to generate revenues other than the property tax, the manager pointed out.

Teaneck was told a few months ago to expect aid of $250,000, Hadge said. The township received a letter Feb. 7 about the cut. "We were depending on it," he said.

The new manager had started off the week by arriving early Monday morning. Asked what he would do first. Hadge said, "I want to hear and listen. That's the best way to start."

By the time of his interview with The Suburbanite, the new manager had spent hours listening and learning. He had been through his first council meeting, talked with dozens of people, visited most Teaneck departments, including the main firehouse, and appeared at a police roll call to talk with the officers.

During his first week, Hadge had even offered to remain in his town hall office to meet with a resident who has a problem, but couldn't make it back to town from work until 6:30 p.m.

Hadge said his initial observations have led to a big concern about what he called Teaneck's infrastructure, especially the age and condition of the equipment and buildings used by the township government agencies. He cited the recreation department offices in the old Town House as "a classic example of my concern."

The department staff, he said, has outdated equipment and needs an "improved working environment."

Safe working conditions are high on his list of priorities. On his first day he made his way through the various departments in the town hall, introducing himself to those who work for the township.

When asked Friday what he thought of Teaneck, Hadge said that in his short time here he found the township most appealing aesthetically. He especially likes the diversity of the community's residents, he added.

As to why he accepted the job when he knew of the council dissension about the financial arrangements for his appointment, Hadge answered: "I enjoy professional challenges."

During the pre-employment interviews, he added, the council members presented a series of concerns. "I believe I'm the man to meet those concerns and challenges."

Hadge said he also like change, as evidenced in his record of serving in about seven different types of government operations. Incidentally, he added, in the position he just left as manager of Niles, IL, he also succeeded a manager with a long history of service. He was referring to his predecessor in Teaneck, Werner Schmid, who served the township for 33 years before retiring Jan. 1.

The new manager also likes New Jersey. "If Teaneck were in Maryland or in New Hampshire, I wouldn't have applied," he said.

Hadge explained that he did not think the situation with his not-yet-completed contract would have an affect on his performance for the township.

Although he had only been here a week, Hadge agreed to talk about his first impressions. He said he does not allow reporters to use tape recorders, though, because of personal preference.

Asked about the similarities with his situaiton in Illinois, Hadge said Niles was "looking for organizational change" when he went there five years ago. "Similar needs exist here," he said.

"MY style of administration is to listen," he declared, adding "After a vast amount of experiences, large and small, I can arrive at conclusions and recommendations."

When explaining his recent stop at the police roll call, Hadge said, "You might even see me riding in a police cruiser. That's the type of manager I enjoy being."

The council has a big list of concerns it planned to discuss with Hadge at the Feb. 14 meeting, where the members also expected to set priorities they want the manager to follow.

"My general goal, " stated the new manager, "is serving the community."

Hadge said public information involving situations in the township, such as the details of the fire-protection problems at Teaneck Nursing Center, will be disclosed to the newspapers and the public.

Before Hadge arrived, Acting Township Manager Gary Saage declined to release the information about fire department charges against the nursing home.

Penalty fines against the nursing home had mounted to more than $200,000 before the information was available at a hearing. Hadge agreed the department activities are public information . He added that personnel information has to be judged differently and by individual case.

The manager added, "One of the characteristics of any government should be its responsiveness to its citizens."

Hadge concluded by saying he wants to instill that philosophy among all employees, starting with department heads.