Minutes: February 21, 2018*

Township Council Special Workshop Meeting

The Special Workshop Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on February 21, 2018 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Jean Murphy presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on February 8, 2018 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss Department Budget Presentations. Official Action may be taken.

Salute to the Flag

Council President Murphy led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Sandra Ooms, Dan Kadish, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger and Council President Murphy. Also present were Business Administrator Charles Voelker and CFO Elke Yetter.

Public Comment (For Current Agenda Items Only, Limited to 3 minutes per person)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: John Auberger
Second: Mark Van Tassel
All members were in favor.

Seeing no members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Motion: Dan Kadish
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

Items for Discussion

Fire Prevention/Emergency Services Budget Presentation

Lou Tosto presented the budget for the Fire Prevention Department which has one full-time and two part-time inspectors in 2017 doing 1436 inspections/permits. Mr. Tosto explained various line items include office and material supplies, software for permits, turn out gear for inspectors and membership fees for required certifications. Council Member Ooms questioned what Fire trust fund was used for. Mr. Tosto explained no penalties were received and funds are for fire prevention training in the schools. Council President Murphy added it will be very beneficial when Vernon computerizes the application process for the Re-occupancy applications which currently is being done.

Mr. Tosto presented the Emergency Services budget line items which includes funds given to each fire department and ambulance squad, equipment repair, state mandated inspections, and clothing allowance for volunteers. In the Capital Budget, Mr. Tosto stated he applied for a grant for SCBA gear and one for $525,000 for a new tanker which Township must contribute 10 % if awarded. Council Member Kadish requested a cumulative list of all past bonded items and which drafting points at Lakes in Vernon have been inspected. Ms. Yetter stated older ordinances have been cancelled but will provide if open. Mr. Tosto explained five lake drafting points were addressed. He added the replacement of fire trucks or tankers need to stay on the 5-year plan for sustainability.

Department of Public Works Budget Presentation

Ed Babcock and Peter Ribello presented the Public Works 2018 proposed budget. Mr. Babcock explained line items for salaries, office supplies, education, equipment rental, uniform and sign expenses and traffic safety items. He added continued monitoring of salt supply and allocation to private communities is being done for cost effectiveness. Mr. Babcock explained budget items including, CDL Physicals, deer removal, mandatory drug testing and road debris removal which has increased dramatically in cost.

Mr. Babcock stated there is no budget increase for Township vehicles and fire truck repairs, but parks maintenance is slightly increased. The budget for Municipal Services Act is $400,000.00 but notes better plannig to regulate use by communities and security of storage facilities is needed. He added the cost to get grits, then mix at Township facility, then deliver to community is very costly. Mr. Babcock suggested also in future to install township gas pumps, so fuel can be bought on state contract and an outside vendor not needed.

Mr. Babcock explained the capital items requested. The Council discussed capital projects including Barry Drive North and Wawayanda Rd which will be completed in 2018. Mr. Babcock explained staffing in office and road crews is down and coverage for snow plowing shorthanded. Council President Murphy asked what revenue is for recycling center. Ms. Yetter stated it is estimated to be $6,000 in revenue which has decreased substantially over last four years due to the lower price in the market place for these materials.

Police-Animal Control Budget Presentation

Chief Randy Mills and Captain Dan Young presented the 2018 proposed budget to the Council. Captain Young explained salaries are contractual and because no retirements occurred in 2017, the amount has increased. Both explained that the overtime budget is based on circumstances and is rarely discretional and that the addition of a supplemental shift has helped in limiting overtime. Captain Young explained budgets for supplies, longevity, college credits, uniform, junior police academy, and supervisor coverage which remained the same. Council Member Kadish questioned where emergency responder’s supplies are budgeted and how the CLEAR program is working. Captain Young stated it is in the materials and supplies line item and noted that cost for Narcan has increased to $35.00/dose. Chief Mills explained the CLEAR program has been successful and two officers on every shift are qualified and it is important that the Sunrise House guarantees a bed for anyone reaching out to the program.

Captain Young explained the salary and O & E budget for Radio Communications which had one retirement in 2017. He stated Vernon is in the third year of a five-year contract with Sussex/Wantage for dispatching. Chief Mills added that no additional staff is needed to continue this agreement and noted that Wantage is very satisfied with our center and services. Mr. Voelker added recent additions to Vernon’s tower by Wantage were at no charge.

Captain Young stated the line items in the Animal Control Budget including supplies, advertising, uniforms, medical and food expenses, and spaying/neutering professional services.

The Police Capital Budget included requests for two patrol vehicles to keep on schedule for replacement; Alcotest Machine and Animal Control Van. The Traffic Messaging Trailer discussed was removed by the Mayor prior to presentation. Chief Mills explained that police vehicles removed from patrol service will be used for traffic details, construction projects, and given to other departments before going to auction. Mr. Voelker explained to Council that the fleet department keeps a log of maintenance service on every vehicle.

Mayor-Council—Commission/Committees Budget Presentation

Mr. Voelker explained the line items for the Mayor/Council Budget which includes supplies; education; mileage, and miscellaneous expenses for meetings. Council Member Kadish questioned if repair or replacement of sound system in the council room was in budget as many complaints have been received. Mr. Voelker stated is was not added but quotes were received last year to estimate what would be needed in future.

Mr. Voelker explained budgets for the Historic Preservation Commission, Economic Development Committee, Beautification Committee, Arts Committee, and the Greenway Action Committee. Council Member Ooms questioned where the $500.00 donation received by the Township was deposited. Ms. Yetter explained it is in a reserve account for that purpose and is noted in the budget and audit.

Legal Services and Engineering Budget Presentation

Mr. Voelker explained the line items in the legal services budget including retainer, tax appeals, foreclosures, bond counsel, settlement, conflict, litigation and labor. The Township is proposing a decreased budget for general Engineering Services in 2018 but noted that the Engineer will continue working on Capital and Highlands Grant projects.

Insurance Budget Presentation

Mr. Voelker explained the Township approved the change of Employee Health Insurance to the State Health Program for a significant savings but noted dental and vision are by other providers. Line items decreased for employee contributions and waiver due to some employees no longer eligible under new plan. He added Multi-Peril, Accidental, Workers Compensation and Deductible remained the same. Council Member Kadish questioned if Vernon is paying a penalty for offering “Cadillac benefits.” Ms. Yetter explained the law was never approved so there is no penalty. Ms. Yetter added if Vernon had stayed with previous Health plan cost would have increased. In addition, Vernon offers employees choice to take the Omnia plan at a lower cost.

Debt Service & Capital Budget Presentation

Ms. Yetter detailed Vernon Township debt balance totaling $30,832,000.00 and noted preference not to bond for every capital item needed. The amount needed to be raised from taxpayers is $20,329,285.00. She added Vernon has two years left in emergency notes totaling $80,000.00. Also, the DEP Loan for Barry Lakes, cosigned by Vernon, but paid by association members, totals $262,000.00. Ms. Yetter stated that Mountain Creek is past due from 1/31/18 payment and owes prior year deficit amounts which will be due on 3/31/2018 and Sewer bonds are due 6/1/2018. Ms. Yetter explained the Township’s Financial Advisor has suggested options which depend upon the outcome of Mountain Creek bankruptcy and suggested not to exceed $1.5 million on new bond ordinance. Ms. Yetter stated there is only one lease payment left on the phone system.

Mr. Voelker explained capital items requested include a Land Use Vehicle, Paving of Municipal Lots, Improvements to Township Property including fencing at Park, grease trap and freezer in Senior Center kitchen. Also added are lights for Fire Prevention Vehicle, ADA compliant doors, SCBA packs, down payment for Fire Truck, Sewer Asset Management Plan. Water to the Town Center Area is estimated at $3,000,000 and down payment would is included in capital plan.

Council Comments

Council Members were in favor that Council recommendations will be presented at meeting of February 26, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. with no need for Township Attorney to be present. The Council noted that the Regular Council meeting for February 26, 2018 @ 7:00 p.m. has been cancelled.

Council Member Kadish questioned if funds to address moldy records in outside trailers was added to budget. Mr. Voelker suggested addition would be based on council recommendation.

Public Comments (On any topic, limited to 3 minutes per person)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Mark VanTassel
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

Seeing no members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Motion: Mark VanTassel
Second: John Auberger
All members were in favor.


There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Auberger, seconded by Council Member Van Tassel with all members voting in favor.

The Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 9:31 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren E. Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: March 12, 2018