Over the past month, a group of fourteen Mahwah residents have been meeting with one another, the township’s new mayor, and its Chief Financial Officer and Business Administrator. The ‘Blue Ribbon Panel’ was asked by the mayor to advise him on how to balance this year’s municipal budget. The budget, which will determine 2012’s municipal tax rate after it is passed by the township council, needs to meet a state-mandated two percent tax levy cap.
Assembled by the mayor and the chair of the panel and chosen because of their ‘business expertise,’ the ‘Blue Ribbon’ group doesn’t have any governmental power in Mahwah. The members are volunteers. But, Mayor Bill Laforet says he is taking their numerous suggestions into account when putting together his final budget.
On Patch, residents have been asking, who’s on the Blue Ribbon Panel? Meet each member below:
David Bagatelle – Chairperson of the Panel
Title/Professional Position: Executive Vice President and NYC Market President-Provident Bank. Bagatelle has over 25 years of experience in the banking and financial services industry.
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 19 years
Personal Background: “I have lived in Mahwah since my wife and I got married in 1993. It is the only place we have ever lived together. I love it here. We have lived in Society Hill, Applewood Estates and currently live in Rio Vista. I grew up (since junior high school) in North Jersey and went to Wayne Hills HS. I lived in Hoboken for 7 years prior to moving to Mahwah. I have two wonderful kids, both of whom attend Mahwah public schools. I am a big believer in a public school education. I am very involved in the community. I am currently the Commissioner of the Mahwah Youth Lacrosse Program and sit on the Mahwah Boosters Board. I also coach numerous lacrosse teams and sit on the Jersey Girls Lacrosse Association Board. I am also on the finance committee for Rio Vista.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I agreed to help him form this Panel (and lead it) because I believe that our local politicians have lost sight of what is important and do not have the experience or desire to make the hard choices and fix the system that is inherently broken. I like a challenge and this is certainly a challenge. Secondarily, I have known Mayor LaForet for many years and anything I can do to help him make Mahwah a better place, I am up for. I appreciate his confidence in asking me to lead this Panel and am confident that we can add value to the process."
Title/Professional Position: Small Business Owner. She and her husband have owned a gas station and auto repair shop for 30 years.
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 14 years
Personal Background: She has two sons who both attend Ramapo Ridge, one in sixth grade, one in eighth.
Why She Wanted To Be On The Panel: This is the first time I’m doing something like this. When I was asked I felt like I had to say yes because it’s important. I care about Mahwah and want to make the best decisions for Mahwah.
Title/Professional Position: VP Sales – S&P Capital IQ (NY, NY). “We provide financial services to the following client types: Investment Management, Inv Banking, Corp Finance, Credit Risk/Research, Equity Research, Governments, Universities & Consulting Firms. Overall I manage a team that looks after seven Global Accounts and are some of S&P Capital IQ’s largest relationships.”
How Long Lived in Mahwah: (Sept 1989-current) - (Prior 1969-1989 Ramsey)
Personal Background: “My wife Terri and I live in Mahwah. We have a daughter who attends elementary school. I went through the Ramsey NJ school system and my wife is from West Islip, NY originally. I am originally from Dedham, MA and moved to Ramsey NJ in Sept. 1969.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I have become increasing interested in the town budget & process in recent years as I have seen our property taxes rise 72% in less than 10 years. This pace of increase is not sustainable in my view and requires a fresh financial review by any concerned citizens of Mahwah. I have not been on a Blue Ribbon Panel prior. However I have been on the Darlington Village Association Board for 2 years.”
Title/Professional Position: Section Manager, BMW of North America.
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 10+ years
Personal background: “Married to my lovely and gracious wife Kathy. We have one daughter, a senior at Mahwah High School this year. We all love living in Mahwah, it is a wonderful town in a beautiful setting, and populated with very friendly people.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “This is my first time as an involved citizen. I am excited about the opportunity to learn how municipal government works, especially how it is funded and how services are delivered.”
Title/Professional Position: Attorney at law. Founding member of Kral Clerkin Redmond Ryan Perry & Van Etten, LLP, a leading civil-defense litigation firm.
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 10 years
Personal Background: “My wife, Virginia, is an Assistant Professor of nursing at Seton Hall University. Our daughter, Elizabeth, is an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan. Our son, Kevin, is a Resident in Medicine at New York Presbyterian/Columbia Hospital (wife Susan). Our daughter, Tara, is matriculated in a Master’s Program at Fordham University in International Political Economy and Development. All live in Manhattan. We are parishioners of the Immaculate Conception church.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I did not request to be on this advisory panel. When asked, I viewed it as a chance to contribute to the township where I make my home. I have been truly impressed with the passion and insight of the panel members as they work towards the common goal a financially responsible and sustainable Mahwah for future generations of residents.”
Title/Professional Position: President, H. Galow Co., Inc., a “certified manufacturer of precision parts and assemblies for the medical, aerospace, optics, electronics and biotechnology industries.”
How Long Lived in Mahwah: Since October 1997
Personal Background: “Grew up in Norwood. Graduated from Northern Valley Regional HS at Old Tappan. Lived in Bergen County my whole life. Met my wife in college. We were married in 1989. Lived in Rive Vale for 9 years before moving to Mahwah. Learned to ski at Camp Gaw when I was 7. We have 3 children in the Mahwah School system (twin sophomores and a freshman) – all of our children participate in the music program and have each won positions on various county and regional and state level bands. I am active in the Saint Paul Ramsey parish community – co-director of the Men’s’ 2011 Cornerstone retreat, lector, confirmation teacher and co-manager of the annual Fish Dry Friday’s dinner program.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I spent 11 years in a large government agency that achieved a remarkable turnaround - eliminated graffiti on the subway car and bus fleets, reduced costs by 27% on an inflation adjusted basis, increased subway car mean distance between failure from just under 10K miles in the mid-1980’s to over 100K miles within a decade (its over 170K in 2011) and re-structured the approach to maintenance from reactionary to preventive thereby increasing safety, reducing costs and improving customer service. I saw that with a core set or focused goals, a large and failing government organization could be turned around – things don’t always have to be the way they were. So I was honored when I was invited to participate and lend my service to the committee. I share the Mayor’s enthusiasm and optimism about the future of Mahwah despite some daunting challenges. The only way Mahwah and towns across NJ are going to be able to control the rate of property tax increase is to look closely at their operations and make smart and balanced changes that reflect the core values of the community and respects the employees who dedicate themselves to government service. “
Title/Professional Position: Vice President, Key Group Management. Registered Representative with NPC. “Our firm manages money for individual investors as well as retirement plans for clients located throughout the US. We help clients with all aspects of their finances including educational funding, retirement and estate planning. One focus of our firm is the municipal debt market for individual clients.”
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 20 Years
Personal Background: “I am married and have been a lifelong resident of Bergen County. I have three children that are all in the Mahwah school system and I am involved with many of the sports groups through the town.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “When I was asked to participate I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a more in depth look at the towns budget process while adding another view based on my experiences.”
Title/Professional Position: Assistant General Counsel for KPMG LLP. He “provides in-house representation in connection with all business transactional matters.”
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 13+ years
Personal Background: Marcus “grew up in Wyckoff. [He graduated from Ramapo College in Mahwah]. He resides in the Fardale Section of Mahwah with his wife, Tammy, and his two young daughters, Johnna (5 years old) and Gianna (3 years old). He enjoys golf, the outdoors, motorcycling, physical fitness and spending time with his family.
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I fell in love with Mahwah as a teenager when I attended Ramapo College here. My love for Mahwah transferred to my wife, which is why we chose to live and raise our family here. As such, the future of Mahwah is of great personal importance to me and my family. I was honored (and humbled) when Mayor Laforet asked me to volunteer to serve on his Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel. I have spent my professional career being asked to analyze and gain fruitful understanding of complex situations so that I can then provide advice to my clients with regard to the various issues that may flow from such situations. Being asked to gain an intricate understanding of our town’s budget so that we could then conduct a critical analysis of it and arrive at potential solutions for the pitfalls uncovered was such a natural fit for me. It is wonderfully rewarding to be able to take my professional skills and put them to use in my personal life for the benefit of my town.”
Title/Professional Position: Vice President, Commercial Real Estate with NVE Bank, has been in banking for 12 years
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 10 years
Personal Background: “Married to Naomi and have 2 daughters, Tori, who is a sophomore in Mahwah HS and Carleigh, who is in Kindergarten at Betsy Ross. Prior to living in Mahwah, I grew up in Maywood, NJ. Over the years I have been an assistant coach for the Mahwah Raiders and is currently the Board Secretary for the Raiders. I was recently made the Commissioner for Mahwah Rec Tennis within the Mahwah Youth Sports Boosters. Also, coached Rec Soccer and Rec Basketball. I was previously on the Mahwah Beautification Committee and currently on the Mahwah Cable TV Committee.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I am extremely interested in the Township of Mahwah and want to see that the town continues to be successful.”
Title/Professional Position: Alex & Associates, Inc. d/b/a Blue Moon Licensing, Ramsey, NJ – It’s an independent licensing and marketing agency serving graphic and computer artists, copyright holders, inventors and patent holders,
How Long Lived In Mahwah: “Approximately 27 years, moving ﬁrst to the Cragmere Section from Hillsdale in the mid ‘80’s, and then to Rio Vista in the mid ‘90’s.”
Personal Background: “My wife of 36 years, Margaret, is a successful real estate agent with Re/Max Legend of Mahwah and for many years before that, she was with the Weichert Realtors in Ramsey. We have a daughter Alexandra Kirby who is a product of the Mahwah grammar school system and a recent student/athlete graduate of The College of New Jersey. Alex earned a BS in Interdisciplinary Business, a Minor in Economics and German, and she is one of only two women (her teammate) from Bergen County to ever play in a Final Four Basketball Tournament.
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I didn’t. However, I know that Dave and the mayor are focused on making Mahwah a better town for everyone, and when Dave asked for my input and help, I could not say no. I am humbled by the depth and breadth of experience on the panel that the Mayor and Dave have assembled. Lastly, and in all honesty, it was a difficult decision especially knowing that in this day and age, this panel is going to be attacked by anonymous know-it-all’s, devoid of facts or any of the ﬁscal and contractual restraints we, or for that matter, the council face, but armed with a screen name and an internet connection… and who needs that aggravation? As the late great Robert Moses once said, ‘Those that can, build. Those that can’t, criticize.’”
Title/Professional Position: “Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Auditor, HSBC North America Holdings Inc. and Chief Auditor, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE:HBC), one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations.”
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 18 Years
Personal Background: “Have been in New Jersey since 1987. Married to Kathy. All three daughters have attended Mahwah schools.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “I wanted to serve on the panel to assist the Mahwah Community and Mayor Laforet in his new role. My background lends itself to providing solutions to budget and financial challenges.”
Title/Professional Position: Managing Director-coordinator of Fiduciary Services at Deutsche Bank, Private Wealth Management
How Long Lived in Mahwah: Since 1975
Personal Background: “Spouse is Marie Quinlan Marzolla and we have four adult children. I moved to Mahwah from Fairfield, CT in 1975 when I was first married to Marie who hails from Cranford, NJ.”
Why He Wanted To Be On The Panel: “It was requested by Dave Bagatelle. I have not done anything like this before.”
Title/Professional Position: Writer. Past member of the League of Women Voter in Bergen County, Democratic Nominee for US Congress 5th District in 2004, past VP at several financial institutions, and chair of the non-profit group SEED, which provides housing to mentally challenged and homeless residents of Northern NJ
How Long Lived in Mahwah: 18 years
Personal Background: “John and I moved her in 1994 from Glen Rock, NJ. We built our house and love living here! We currently have a 2 year old Red Fox Lab. I am a former trustee of the Rio Vista Homeowners Association.”
Why She Wanted To Be On The Panel: “It is an honor to work with this panel of dedicated members of our community and the mayor. I have advised other organizations and political entities on matters of public policy and government.
One member of the Panel, Mike Singer, did not respond to a request for more information about himself.