Town hall to the highest bidder?

From town hall to a café?

That’s what could happen in one broke New Jersey borough, if a pair of local developers get their way.

The Roselle, N.J. council voted 5 to 1 this week to consider selling the borough’s government hall to developers who want to knock it down and replace it with a restaurant, according to a Newark Star Ledger article written by my friend and former classmate Julio Terruso.

While city attorneys wouldn’t disclose the offer, they did say it totaled more than $1 million, according to the article, which is probably a decent chunk of change for a community of 21,000 people.

But as Terruso points out, there’s still a few details that would have to be worked out — namely where to move government operations.

Roselle’s government, including its police department and municipal court, has nowhere else to go, at least for the moment.

Earlier this fall, I’d heard about the federal government attempting to auction off unused public properties as a way to attack the massive federal deficit– a plan the New York Times compared to a garage sale in a Sept. 29 article.

Deep within President Obama’s proposals to raise revenue and reduce the deficit lies a method that has garnered bipartisan support, something rare in Washington these days. It involves selling an island, courthouses, maybe an airstrip, generally idle or underused vehicles, roads, buildings, land — even the airwaves used to broadcast television.

But in Roselle, the property isn’t unused. Rather, it’s the hub of government operations.

You’ve got to give them a hand for at least considering all possible budget solutions, but it seems that selling their borough hall would likely just open up a whole new budget mess.

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