Minutes: February 23, 2015*
Township Council Special Work Session
The Special Workshop Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 23, 2015 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Patrick Rizzuto presiding.
Statement of Compliance
Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 29, 2015, 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.
Salute to the Flag
Council President Rizzuto led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.
Roll Call of Members
Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Brian Lynch, Jean Murphy, Dick Wetzel and Council President Rizzuto. Also present were Township Administrator Bill Zuckerman who was also serving as acting Mayor, CFO Elke Yetter and Township Attorney John Ursin.
There was no Executive Session.
Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Brian Lynch
Second: Jean Murphy
All members were in favor.
There were no public comments.
Closed to Public Comments
Seeing no members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Motion: Jean Murphy
Second: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.
Items for Discussion: Department Budget Presentations
Mayor and Council/Legal/Health Insurance
Council President Rizzuto asked if Administrator Bill Zuckerman would please come forward. Mr. Zuckerman explained the various expenses for the Mayor and Council indicating the amount was the same. Council Member Murphy inquired as to why the Council did not have a line item for legal expenses for the Council. Council President Rizzuto suggested that until the entire Council received a raise the additional money for Council President should be removed. Council President Rizzuto suggested a $6,000 raise for the Mayor’s salary. Council Member Murphy opined it should be 2% like everyone else. Council President Rizzuto pointed out the Mayor’s salary had not been increased in the last 4 years and he was earning $11.54 per hour based on a 50 hour week. Council Member Lynch stated he agreed the Mayor has not had a raise and he did not think a $6,000 increase was inappropriate. Council Member Wetzel concurred with Council Member Lynch. Council Member Kadish asked if it would be retro-active to January 1 and if an ordinance would be introduced. Attorney John Ursin indicated that there would be an ordinance. Council Member Murphy indicated this could be discussed at that time. The Council discussed the total line item cost per employee as well as the user friendly budget.
Administrator Zuckerman discussed the legal section of the budget indicating it would be based on the various contracts awarded at re-organization. The Council discussed what a conflict would be for the attorneys. The Council discussed legal expenditures and their need for Council approval. Administrator Zuckerman explained the Healthcare section of the budget was based upon the experience rating or bill from last year that was sent to bid. Administrator Zuckerman noted the substantial increase that was due in part to the Affordable Care Act. Administrator Zuckerman discussed the various other insurance expenses, including workers compensation, unemployment and workers compensation for volunteers. The Council discussed the cost of health care for the Township’s retirees as well as the State Health Benefits, which are more expensive for less coverage.
Council President Rizzuto requested that Kim Decker please come forward. Ms. Decker discussed the various expenses for Land Use, including the cost of Board training, salaries, and continuing education for board members, as well as planning and engineering expenses.
Council President Rizzuto asked that Lauren Kirkman come forward. Ms. Kirkman discussed the cost for the various expenses including records, education, elections, materials and supplies and the court recorder as well as the cost for registrar expenses. The Council discussed the cost associated with training someone new in the department versus the salary cost of hiring someone with experience. The Council discussed implementing a policy that if someone receives training they cannot leave for a set time period unless the funds are paid back for their training. The Council discussed training being viewed as a perk for the job. Council Member Murphy noted the salary for the municipal clerk had not been completely discussed.
Council President Rizzuto asked if Lou Tosto and Bill Zuckerman would please come forward. Administrator Zuckerman discussed that the Township provides funds to the fire houses and emergency squads for the cost of equipment, testing, gas and repair. The Council discussed the turnout gear and the amount of the expenditures.
Council President Rizzuto asked if Lou Tosto would provide his presentation. Mr. Tosto discussed that fire prevention provides hand outs to the school children to teach them about fire safety. The Council discussed the Fire Police program, radio upgrades, scot packs and equipment. The Council discussed the possibility of hiring an inspector.
Council President Rizzuto asked if Tom Pinand would please come forward. Mr. Pinand reviewed the list of expenses for the building department, including the cost of materials, computer services, training, and memberships.
Council President Rizzuto asked if CFO Elke Yetter would please come forward. Ms. Yetter reviewed the cost of items in the finance department including the cost of salaries, seminars, materials, forms and payroll costs. The Council noted that shared services were reduced. Ms. Yetter explained the Township was no longer providing CFO services to Sussex. The Council discussed debt service, the capital improvement fund and the payment of bond principal. Ms. Yetter noted that since 2010 the Township had paid down debt. Ms. Yetter further explained that there was an increase in debt owed by others, for example the MUA’s debt. The Council discussed the sinking fund which this budget would again include monies for; this fund provides money for future bond payments so the Township could avoid spikes in the tax rate in years when bonds become due. The Administrator discussed that you cannot use capital funds for current operating expenses. The Council discussed the capital budget which was based on department requests, including vehicles, road work, mason dumps, and a possible salt shed, as well as upgrades to the Township’s computer system. The Council expressed concern that some vehicles may reach their life expectancy before the bond for them is paid. The Council discussed reducing the amount for the EDAC as they implemented their program last year. The Council discussed the fee for records storage for the Historic Society and providing funds to purchase markers for the Historic Preservation Commission. The Council discussed the possibility of water in the building and adding that expense to the budget. Council Member Murphy requested an update on the road projects that have been completed.
Council President Rizzuto asked for any further discussion. No members of the Council indicated they would like additional discussion at that time.
There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Lynch, seconded by Council President Rizzuto with all members voting in favor.
The meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 7:27 p.m.
Lauren Kirkman, RMC CMR
Minutes approved: March 23, 2015