New Monmouth County Clerk rethinks $58000 furniture buy – Asbury Park Press
FREEHOLD â New Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon has reversed one of her very first official acts â the purchase of new office furniture valued at more than $100,000.
The new office furniture, which would have cost $58,339 after discounts, was put on hold after the Asbury Park Press began questioning the expenditure following its recent approval.
Upon reflection, Giordano Hanlon told the Press a more immediate need was new office scanners, used to make paper documents accessible electronically.
“It will eventually need to be replaced,” Giordano Hanlon said of the existing furniture, which she described as 20 years old and missing parts. “It is original to the building. It is not in good condition and it is not set up for computer use.”
But “I have other priorities right now.”
The clerk, who receives a salary of $107,250, is responsible for recording property deeds, preparing election ballots, tabulating election results, storing the county’s public records and managing the electronic records archives.
Her office stores and records most documents electronically. Paper documents must be scanned into the system by hand. Existing scanners are 10 years old and break down regularly, Giordano Hanlon said.
“It (the scanners) became a priority because we just have problems with the work flow,” she said.
Giordano Hanlon, who replaced long-time county clerk M. Claire French on April 1, said the office was undergoing renovations and new furniture was an issue when she took over the office.
A price quote for the furniture was dated May 15. The purchase order for the furniture was dated May 18, the same day New Jersey Senate confirmed Giordano Hanlon’s appointment as Monmouth County Clerk. The purchase order included a delivery instruction of “ASAP.”
Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders signed off on the purchase on May 28.
The new furniture actually retails at $106,070. But the state contract with National Office Furniture cited in the purchase order gives a 45 percent discount on orders between $50,001 and $150,000.
In all, the items would have furnished a temp’s office, an intern’s office, a conference room, the clerk’s office and “Felicia office,” according to a price quote obtained by the Park Press. Felicia Santaniello is the deputy county clerk, a position she had under French. New items would have included desks, filing cabinets, end tables, office chairs, upholstered chairs, bookcases, media cabinets and a 20-foot conference table.
The conference table was the most expensive item on the list at $7,517 after discounts, and the furniture for that room totaled $25,620 after the discounts. The furniture for the clerk’s office would have cost $18,156 after the discounts.
The money for the furniture would have come from the county clerk’s trust fund, an account established under state law. According to that law, $2 of all fees charged by both the county clerks’ and county surrogates’ offices are set aside in a trust fund to be used for modernizing their offices.
Giordano Hanlon said the same source will be tapped to purchase the scanners, for which she is seeking quotes. She declined to estimate what those costs would be.
Susanne Cervenka: 732-643-4229; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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