All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.

Minutes: March 11, 2013

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:30 p.m. on March 11, 2013, in the Vernon Township Municipal Building, 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 11, 2013, and was posted on the bulletin board in the municipal building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, and Council President Patrick Rizzuto. Also present were Mayor Vic Marotta, Business Administrator Jerry Giaimis, and CFO Bill Zuckerman. Township Attorney Kevin Kelly arrived at 7:40 p.m.

Salute to the Flag

The salute to the flag was lead by members of Boy Scout Troop 312.

Public Comments

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments at this time.
Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Eddie Dunn
All were in favor.

Mary Ellen Vichiconti—asked if the budget included salary increases for Mayor, Council, and department heads. The Mayor advised that it did not. She read a prepared statement, reminding the Council that per N.J.S.A. 40A:167, and the defeated ballot question, no increases were allowed for two (2) years.

Gary Martinsen—gave kudos to the CFO. He asked about the SEC-TV resolution, and suggested slowing down the process for the Town Center ordinance noting his concerns with the redevelopment zone.

Closed to Public Comments

No one else wished to speak at this time, and Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Second: Dick Wetzel
All were in favor.

Proclamation

WHEREAS, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological movement disorder of the central nervous system, which has a unique impact on each patient; and

WHEREAS, according to the Parkinson’s Action Network, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the National Parkinson Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association and the National Institutes of Health, there are over one million Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; and

WHEREAS, symptoms include slowness, tremor, difficulty with balance and speaking, rigidity, cognitive and memory problems; and

WHEREAS, although new medicines and therapies may enhance life for some time for people with Parkinson’s, more work is needed for a cure; and

WHEREAS, increased education and research are needed to help find more effective treatments with fewer side effects and ultimately a cure for Parkinson’s disease; and

WHEREAS, a multidisciplinary approach to Parkinson’s disease care includes local wellness, support, and caregiver groups; and

WHEREAS, April has been proclaimed as World Wide Parkinson’s Awareness Month for all to recognize the need for more research and help in dealing with the devastating effects of Parkinson’s disease.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon, do hereby proclaim April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in Vernon Township.

Given under my hand in these free United States in the Township of Vernon, on this day of two thousand thirteen, and to which I have caused the Seal of the Township of Vernon to be affixed and have made this proclamation public.

Council President Rizzuto advised that pamphlets were available at the lectern. He asked for a motion to approve the proclamation.

Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Brian Lynch
All were in favor.

Council Member Kadish noted that his wife has Parkinson’s and he will be visiting clinics.

The Council President noted that it was very worthwhile to honor the efforts to combat this disease.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Marotta welcomed the 3 members of Boy Scout Troop 312 who were in attendance as part of their citizenship merit badge requirements, noting that two scouts were classified at a “tenderfoot” rank and the third was classified at a “star” ranking. He advised that he was very proud to have them there and was looking forward to working with them.

The Mayor advised that our Building Inspector, Tom Pinand, has been selected as the Building Inspector of the Year by his State Association and will be honored at a ceremony in Atlantic City on May 2nd.

He noted that he would reserve the majority of his comments for the budget introduction.

Consent Resolutions #13-58 through #13-70

Council President Rizzuto gave a brief explanation of all resolutions.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #13-58 through #13-70.

Council Member Kadish asked to separate out #13-68.

Council Members Dunn and Wetzel asked to separate out #13-58

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #13-59 through #13-67, #13-69, and #13-70.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Second: Daniel Kadish

Council Member Kadish asked about Resolution #13-59 which lists the Route 23 Auto Mall. He felt there might be a conflict since the Mayor had worked there. Mayor Marotta noted that the Route 23 Auto Mall was in Butler, and that he had not worked there.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch*, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Abstain: Brian Lynch on #13-70 only
Resolutions #13-59 through #13-67, #13-69, and #13-70 were approved.

Resolution #13-59: Authorizing Contracts with Certain Approved State Contract Vendors

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon may by resolution, and without advertising for bids or obtaining quotations, purchase any goods or services under the State Contract; and

WHEREAS, the Township has the need on a timely basis to purchase goods and services utilizing State contracts; and

WHEREAS, the Township intends to enter into contracts with the attached referenced State vendors through this resolution and properly executed contracts, which shall be applicable to all the conditions to current State contracts.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, authorizes the Purchasing Agent to purchase certain goods and services from those approved State vendors on the attached list, pursuant to all conditions of the individual State contracts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the governing body of Vernon Township pursuant to NJAC 5:30-5.5(b) (the certification of available funds), states that the Chief Finance Officer shall either certify the full maximum amount against the budget at the time the contract is awarded, or no contract amount shall be chargeable or certified until such time as the goods or services are ordered or otherwise called for prior to placing the order, and a certification of availability of funds is made by the Chief Finance Officer; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the duration of the contracts between the Township of Vernon and the referenced state vendors shall be from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Commodity/ServiceVendorState Contract #
Parts and Repairs of Road Maintenance EquipmentLawson Products69709
Auto Parts for HD Vehicles over 15K GVWRDover Brake and Clutch73730
 Opdyke’s73938
 G and G Diesel73705
 Lawson Products73736
 Perth Amboy Spring Works73777
 Route 23 Auto Mall73703
 Rowe and Company73723
 Smith Motors73701
 Winters Auto Parts.73751
Maintenance and Repairs for HD Vehicles over 15K WeightAtlantic Detroit Diesel73511
 D and D Road Service73500
 Route 23 Auto Mall73510
 Smith Motors73509
 Tony Sanchez LTD73528
WSCA Computer ContractApple Computer70259
 Dell Computer70256
 Hewlett Packard70262
 Panasonic75583
 Toshiba75582
Tires, Tubes and ServiceBridgestone82528
 Goodyear82527
Office Supplies and EquipmentStaples77249

Resolution #13-60: Resolution to Join the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission Cooperative Pricing System (#65MCESCCPS)

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-11 et seq. specifically authorizes two or more contracting units to establish a cooperative pricing system for the provision and performance of goods and services and allows additional contracting units to enter into such a cooperative pricing system; and

WHEREAS, a cooperative pricing system is to effect substantial economies in the provision and performance of goods and services; and

WHEREAS, the Township desires to participate in this pricing system.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Council agrees to join the Middlesex Regional Educational Commission Cooperative Pricing System.

Resolution #13-61: Authorizing Contracts with Certain Approved Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission Cooperative Pricing System Vendors

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon may by resolution, and without advertising for bids or obtaining quotations, purchase any goods or services under the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission Cooperative Pricing System; and

WHEREAS, the Township has the need on a timely basis to purchase goods and services utilizing MRESCCPS contracts; and

WHEREAS, the Township intends to enter into contracts with the attached referenced MRESCCPS vendors through this resolution and properly executed contracts, which shall be applicable to all the conditions applicable to the current MRESCCPS contracts.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, authorizes the Purchasing Agent to purchase certain goods and services from those approved MRESCCPS vendors on the attached list, pursuant to all conditions of the individual MRESCCPS contracts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the governing body of Vernon Township pursuant to NJAC 5:30-5.5(b), determines that the Chief Financial Officer shall either certify the full maximum amount against the budget at the time the contract is awarded, or no contract amount shall be chargeable or certified until such time as the goods or services are ordered or otherwise called for prior to placing the order, and a certification of availability of funds is made by the Chief Finance Officer; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the duration of the contracts between the Township of Vernon and the referenced MRESCCPS vendors shall be from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Commodity/ServiceVendorMRESCCPS Contract #
Grounds EquipmentCherry Valley Tractor SalesMRESC 12/13-24
General Office SuppliesWB MasonMRESC 10/11-42

Resolution #13-62: Authorizing a Contract with Municipal Software, Inc. to Maintain the Township’s Accounting Software for 2013

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a need to maintain it’s accounting software; and

WHEREAS, Municipal Software, Inc. supplied the original accounting software to the Township and has the expertise to maintain said program; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent and Chief Financial Officer recommend that the Township Council award a contract to maintain the Township’s accounting software to Municipal Software, Inc., 9 South Dartmouth, Building #3, 2nd Floor, Marshalls Creek, PA 18335; and

WHEREAS, the total cost for this annual maintenance contract is $7,086.00 and the Chief Financial Officer of the Township of Vernon, has certified these funds are available in account #10570522.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, that the vendor, Municipal Software, Inc., be awarded a contract to maintain the Township’s accounting software in an amount not to exceed $7,086.00; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Resolution #13-63: Awarding a Contract to Rudco Products, Inc. to Supply and Deliver Brand New Containers for the Public Works Department

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a need for one (1) brand new 40-yard open-top container and one (1) brand new 40-yard enclosed container; and

WHEREAS, the Public Works Director solicited three (3) quotations for these containers which were reviewed by the Qualified Purchasing Agent and both recommend that a contract be awarded to Rudco Products, Inc., 114 East Oak Road, Vineland NJ 08360, which submitted the lowest priced quotation.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, that the vendor, Rudco Products, Inc., be awarded a contract to supply and deliver one (1) brand new 40-yard open container and one (1) brand new 40-yard enclosed container per the attached quote for an amount not to exceed $9,816.00. The Chief Financial Officer has certified a total amount of $9,816.00 in account #1151111500; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Resolution #13-64: Resolution Accepting the Completion of the Sussex County Route 517, Maple Grange Road, and Lounsberry Hollow Road Intersection Improvement Project

WHEREAS, the Township awarded a contract to Earth-Tec Associates, Inc., for the Sussex County Route 517, Maple Grange Road, and Lounsberry Hollow Road Intersection Improvement Project via resolution 12-133, awarded on June 19, 2012; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer has stated that this contract is complete and recommends that this project be accepted by the Township Council.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Vernon Township Council accept this project identified as the Sussex County Route 517, Maple Grange Road, and Lounsberry Hollow Road Intersection Improvement Project as complete, per the attached letter from the Township Engineer; and

BE IT FURTHUR RESOLVED, that this Resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Resolution #13-65: Authorizing Change Order #1 to Reivax Contracting Corp. for Drainage Improvements to Various Streets in Vernon Valley Lake

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon awarded a contract for drainage improvements to various streets in Vernon Valley Lake via resolution #12-194 to Reivax Contracting Corp. for $381,735; and

WHEREAS, additional items and/or quantities that were unforeseen and not in the original specifications are needed, totaling $9,600; and

WHEREAS, items and/or quantities that were in the original specifications are not needed, totaling $8,340; and

WHEREAS, the net increase of these additional items less the items that are not needed totals to $1,260; and

WHEREAS, according to NJAC 5:30-1.3, the total amount of all change orders may not exceed 20 percent of the original contract award; and

WHEREAS, this change order does not exceed the 20 percent threshold; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer recommends that this change order be approved per the attached request.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, that this change order be approved; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Resolution #13-66: Acceptance of Performance Bond from Aqua New Jersey, Inc. for Roadway Repairs for Phase I Water Main Replacement Along Cedar Ridge Drive and Fox Hollow Court

WHEREAS, Aqua New Jersey, Inc. has submitted plans to Vernon Township for a water main replacement project on Cedar Ridge Drive within Vernon Township; and

WHEREAS, the Township Engineer, Cory Stoner, has reviewed and approved the final plans, prepared by James C. Barbato, P.E. with a requirement of a performance bond be posted per the attached letter dated March 5, 2013; and

WHEREAS, based on the estimated cost of the project, the Township Engineer is requiring a performance bond in the amount of $159,960.00 submitted to Vernon Township prior to the start of the project by Aqua New Jersey, Inc.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, authorization to accept a performance bond in the amount of $159,960.00 to be submitted by Aqua New Jersey, Inc. for road repairs in relation to the water main replacement on Cedar Ridge Drive and Fox Hollow Court, Vernon, NJ; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the performance bond can be formally released when construction has been completed and approved by the Township Engineer and further accepted by the Township Council by way of Resolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that prior to release of the performance bond, Aqua New Jersey, Inc., shall submit a maintenance bond for a period of one (1) year from the Township’s acceptance of the roadway repairs, with said bond being formally accepted by the Township Council by way of Resolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Department of Public Works for their records.

This Resolution will take effect immediately according to law.

Resolution #13-67: Endorsing the Submission of the 2012 Recycling Tonnage Grant Application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

WHEREAS, the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act, P.L. 1987 c.102, has established a recycling fund from which tonnage grants may be made to municipalities in order to encourage local source separation and recycling programs; and

WHEREAS, it is the intent and spirit of the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act to use the tonnage grants to develop new municipal recycling programs and to continue and to expand existing programs; and

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is promulgating recycling regulations to implement the Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act; and

WHEREAS, the recycling regulations impose on municipalities certain requirements as a condition for applying for tonnage grants, including but not limited to making and keeping accurate, verifiable records of materials collected and claimed by the municipality; and

WHEREAS, a resolution authorizing this municipality to apply for such tonnage grants will memorialize the commitment of this municipality to recycling and indicate the assent of the Vernon Township Council to the efforts undertaken by the municipality and the requirements contained in the Recycling Act and recycling regulations; and

WHEREAS, such a resolution should designate the individual authorized to ensure the application is properly completed and timely filed.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the Township of Vernon hereby endorses the submission of the 2012 Recycling Tonnage Grant Application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and designates David Pullis, Director of Public Works, to ensure that the application is properly filed; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the monies received from the Recycling Tonnage Grant be deposited in a dedicated recycling trust fund to be used solely for the purposes of recycling.

Resolution #13-69: Declaring Three (3) Copiers as Surplus Property No Longer Needed for Public Use

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:11-36, et seq., municipalities may declare surplus property no longer needed for public use and authorize the sale of such surplus property; and

WHEREAS, the Qualified Purchasing Agent recommends that the following copiers be declared surplus property no longer needed for public use:

Make and ModelSerial Number
Konica BIZHUB 725556SJ00115
Konica C35065JE30420
Imagistics IM35104070276 403740

The hard drives on these copiers may be erased or removed prior to any sale in order to protect information that has been stored while copying; and

WHEREAS, these surplus copiers will be replaced by recently procured copiers; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon through this resolution gives notice that it may sell these copiers via an on-line auction process, using the vendor usgovbid.com.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the above-referenced copiers are declared surplus property no longer needed for public use and may be auctioned using usgovbid.com.

Resolution #13-70: Authorizing the Award of Contract to Mount Tools on a Recently Purchased Rescue Truck for the Vernon Fire Department

WHEREAS, the Township awarded a contract to purchase a brand new rescue truck from Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. via resolution #12-94; and

WHEREAS, Fire and Safety Services is an authorized dealer for Pierce and submitted a proposal to mount Vernon Fire Department tools on a new rescue truck with the Pierce bid the Township received for the above referenced apparatus; and

WHEREAS, the QPA and Fire Marshal recommend that this proposal, estimated in the amount of $7,000.00, be accepted and further recommends that a contract be awarded to Fire and Safety Services, 200 Ryan Street, South Plainfield, NJ 07080.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Vernon Township Council, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey to contract with Fire and Safety Services for the mounting of tools on a recently purchased rescue truck for the Vernon Fire Department.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately according to law.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #13-58.
Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Brian Lynch

Council Member Dunn had concerns on only one cable company, and that SEC-TV does not address the complaints received. Council Member Wetzel was concerned with the time frame of the agreement for 10 years. Mayor Marotta addressed some of the issues, and noted that this was a negotiation process.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Resolutions #13-58 was approved.

Resolution #13-58: Resolution of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey Approving Service Electric Cable TV of New Jersey, Inc.’s Application for Renewal of Municipal Consent to Construct and Operate a Cable Television Franchise within the Township of Vernon

WHEREAS, Service Electric Cable TV of New Jersey, Inc. (“Service Electric”) submitted an Application for renewal of Municipal Consent to construct and operate a cable television franchise within the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, a public hearing was held on December 17, 2012, said hearing being properly advertised and proper notice being given to the public; and

WHEREAS, testimony was received at the public hearing regarding the Application and members of the public were given the opportunity to participate; and

WHEREAS, based upon the Application submitted and information presented, the Township Council has determined that Service Electric possesses the necessary legal, financial, and technical ability to provide the services, facilities, and equipment outlined in the Application; and

WHEREAS, the hearing was closed upon receipt of all testimony regarding the Application and a motion was made, seconded, and carried to approve said Application.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, and State of New Jersey that the Application for a cable television franchise submitted by Service Electric Cable TV of New Jersey, Inc. is hereby approved subject to preparation and final adoption of the appropriate municipal ordinance.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #13-68.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Second: Daniel Kadish

Council Member Kadish asked the Mayor or the Business Administrator to advise if the acceptance of the grant would prohibit the firing of the hired officers being used for these programs. The Mayor advised that no new officers would be hired, as they would continue to be Detective Sgt. Talt and Detective Haw.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Resolution #13-68 was approved.
Council Member Wetzel noted that he was definitely in favor of this resolution as his brother had been a policeman.

Resolution #13-68: A Resolution Approving Participation wth the State of New Jersey Safe and Secure Communities Program Administered by the Division of Criminal Justice, Department of Law and Public Safety

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Police Department wishes to apply for funding for a project under the Safe and Secure Communities Program; and

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Council has reviewed the accompanying application and has approved said request; and

WHEREAS, the project is a joint effort between the Department of Law and Public Safety and Vernon Township Police Department for the purpose described in the application.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Vernon Township Council that:

  1. As a matter of public policy the Vernon Township Police Department wishes to participate to the fullest extent possible with the Department of Law and Public Safety.
  2. The Attorney General will receive funds on behalf of the Applicant.
  3. The Division of Criminal Justice shall be responsible for the receipt and review of the applications for said funds.
  4. The Division of Criminal Justice shall initiate allocations to each applicant as authorized.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #13-47.
Moved: Brian Lynch
Second: Eddie Dunn

Council Member Lynch felt that this legislation was another unfunded mandate where the legislature had exempted themselves. Mr. Kelly noted that a lot of the proposed changes we actually do anyway. He felt that some of the troublesome provisions were:

  1. the time for public comments section would be unlimited which could make for lengthy meetings;
  2. sub-committee requirements would now have to follow the rules of the whole, though they would not be able to act on their own;
  3. timelines for posting agendas is unfair for Monday meetings as they would have to be posted on Thursdays (4 days ahead) instead of the rest of the weekdays only needing 2 days ahead—it eliminates weekends for the 48-hour rule.

Mayor Marotta noted that the sub-committee for liaison to the Board of Education had been very productive, but the new rules would interfere with this process.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Resolution #13-47 was approved.

Resolution #13-47: Resolution Opposing Senate Bill 2511 Amendments to Open Public Meetings Act

WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced to reform and modernize the Open Public Meetings Act (S-2511); and

WHEREAS, the governing body of the Township of Vernon agrees with and supports the statement that “the right of the public to be present at all meetings of public bodies, and to witness in full detail all phases of the deliberation, policy formulation, and decision making of public bodies, is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process”; and

WHEREAS, the changes, however, proposed in S-2511 will not only be a cost driver for local and State government but make government less effective; and

WHEREAS, S-2511 includes a number of proposed requirements which involve costly unfunded mandates, impractical requirements and impediments to the democratic process; and

WHEREAS, S-2511 creates a new definition of subcommittees that expands subcommittees to be overly inclusive; and

WHEREAS, subcommittees would be required to provide public notice of subcommittee meetings, if the governing body determines them to be open; and

WHEREAS, subcommittees would be required to submit at least one report to the governing body detailing the number of meetings, names of members of the committee and a concise statement of the matters discussed. The governing body would be required to establish a schedule of when the subcommittee reports shall be filed; and

WHEREAS, subcommittees do not commit the governing body to action or expend public funds; and

WHEREAS, the requirements for subcommittee meetings would, among other things, necessitate additional administrative support for all subcommittees as well as increased legal advertising costs; and

WHEREAS, the new requirement that agendas provide a description of all agenda items, including the names of parties to and approximate dollar amounts of any contracts to be acted upon, will delay the award of contracts and could lead to the loss of grant monies; and

WHEREAS, the new requirement that the governing body may act upon an item brought up by a citizen at a public meeting if it was not published as an agenda item only if: (1) there is a vote of 2/3 of the members present to proceed, (2) the municipality demonstrates that it is in the public’s best interest and includes the reasons why it is in the public best interest in the minutes; is impractical, ineffective and unnecessarily inhibits the operations of municipal government and runs contrary to the time honored tradition of holding a public meeting for the very purpose of soliciting such input and acting upon it; and

WHEREAS, the new requirement that electronic communications, such as e-mails and text messages, concerning public business among an effective majority of the members that occurred prior to a meeting become part of the minutes and renders the recordings a permanent municipal record, is unworkable and unmanageable as the technology does not always exist to make “hard copies” or digital copies of text messages and the records custodian does not always have access to them, and which is an unprecedented expansion of the meeting concept; and

WHEREAS, the new requirement that comprehensive minutes must include each member’s stated reason for their actions or vote, the identity of each member of the public who spoke, and summary of what was said, be made available to the public as soon as possible but no later than 60 days after the meeting will not only be costly but the historical value of minutes will be lost in order to meet an arbitrary deadline; and

WHEREAS, the new requirement that the public be allowed to speak for a minimum of three minutes, at the start of the public meeting, without the ability of the public body to limit the length of the public comment could disrupt public meetings, lead to filibustering and prevent the governing body from conducting business; and

WHEREAS, the provisions of S-2511 place financial, time, manpower and other burdens on municipalities at a time when municipalities are forced to lay off municipal employees, impose furloughs and reduce departmental budgets so that municipalities can meet the strict CAP requirements with decreased revenues and increasing operating expense; and

WHEREAS, the totality of the new requirements of S-2511 will be a significant cost driver for local and State government with no known appropriation contemplated or any alternate means to offset these costs, such as a reasonable increase in fees; and

WHEREAS, the provisions of S-2511 continue to exempt the Legislature from the requirements placed on municipalities; and

WHEREAS, while we appreciate Senator Weinberg’s efforts to address our concerns, we must continue to oppose the amendments to the Open Public Meeting Act as the changes proposed in S-2511 will not only be a cost driver for local and State government but make government less effective.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE Township of Vernon, for reasons stated above, that it does hereby oppose S-2511, as currently drafted, and strongly urges the State Senate and Assembly to oppose these bills; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the governing body of the Township of Vernon does hereby strongly urge the Legislature, in the interest of transparency and openness, to remove the various exemptions in the Open Public Meetings Law that apply to the Legislature. The rules that the legislation makes applicable to other governmental bodies should apply equally to all governmental levels and officials; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this duly adopted resolution be forwarded to Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, the legislators of the Township of Vernon State Legislative Districts, Governor Chris Christie, the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the Municipal Clerks’ Association of New Jersey.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #13-71, noting that Assemblyman Chiusano’s name would be removed from the distribution list as he is no longer an assemblyman.

Moved: Eddie Dunn
Second: Brian Lynch

Council Member Lynch advised that this would be a duplication of services already provided with a very high cost to the Township. Council Members Wetzel and Dunn were in agreement. The Council President advised that the existing mail-in ballot could be downloaded from home.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Resolution #13-71 was approved.

Resolution #13-71: A Resolution Opposing Proposed Legislation A-3553 Establishing an Early Voting Process for Certain Elections

WHEREAS, Assembly Bill A-3553 proposes to expand the opportunities for registered voters to cast their ballots at an election within the State of New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, the goal of accommodating voters in pursuit of greater participation in the democratic process is a worthy goal; but

WHEREAS, the said bill as it is currently drafted involves proposals that would increase workloads, add more costs to the election process, and ultimately serve to confuse voters more than it would accommodate their needs; and

WHEREAS, the opportunity for “Early Voting” already exists in the State of New Jersey through the Vote by Mail ballot process.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey does hereby oppose Bill A-3553 for the following reasons:

  1. Current State Law provides that the County Clerk shall mail Sample Ballots for Primary Election on or before 12 noon on Wednesday preceding election (N.J.S.A. 19:23-34). The proposed Bill requires polling places to be open beginning 15 days before an election. This bill creates an inherent conflict between the date upon which the County Clerk is required to mail sample ballots and the date upon which sample ballots must be posted in polling places. It creates a situation in which the County Clerk will be obligated to mail sample ballots to voters, inviting them to come vote on Election Day, who will have already cast their votes, creating confusion for the average voter and citizen. It will also pressure County Clerks to have sample ballots available earlier than the statutory date upon which said sample ballots need to be provided to the general public via mail.
  2. The requirement that a single polling place must be kept open ten hours a day, Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays for 8 hours, beginning 15 days before an election up until 2 days before an election will create additional expense on County Boards of Election, who will be required to staff this said polling place with poll workers who will be required to handle voters that come from every voting district within a municipality as opposed to a single voting district at each polling place on election day.
  3. The Sussex County Board of Elections points out that the average age of poll workers in Sussex County is 72 years. The bill would require complete re-training of poll workers on how to handle paper ballots on the Early voting days as opposed to the electronic voting done on Election day; many current poll workers will not be interested or physically capable of staffing polling places for such extended periods of time for two straight weeks; hiring new poll workers and training them will be required to staff the early voting locations; costs will be incurred in transporting election materials to and from each early voting location every day in order to maintain chain of custody for protecting the integrity of the ballots cast; overtime costs would be incurred for staffing the Board of Elections offices each day and each evening; all of which adds up to an estimated additional expense exceeding $150,000 per election.
  4. The Bill creates a conflict for Municipal Clerks who are required, by law, to be in their offices during the hours that polls are open for an election. Additionally, many municipalities now rely on their Public Works employees to set up and take down polling places. This will create overtime issues on municipalities.
  5. The Bill requires a central location be utilized as the early voting polling place. In many instances, this will require the use of the municipal building for seven days a week, for two weeks prior to the election, for up to 12 hours a day. This creates an inherent conflict with already-scheduled court sessions, meetings of governing bodies, meetings of various boards such as Planning Boards, Zoning Boards, Recreation Commissions, and Boards of Health, which will require re-scheduling and postponing hearings on applications before those bodies, in turn creating inconvenience for the general public, and increased costs for the municipality.
  6. The Sussex County Board of Elections estimates that, taking all factors into consideration, the total cost of setting up and conducting the first early voting election would be $680,000, and the cost of each early voting election thereafter would be $198,000.
  7. This represents an unfunded mandate, creating unnecessary additional burden and expense on the county and local levels of government, and provides no meaningful increase in the opportunity for New Jersey voters to “vote early” because current state law and established procedures allow a voter to download a Vote By Mail Ballot application, mail in that application, receive a Vote by Mail ballot, and cast their ballot, without ever having to leave their own home or business location.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Township Council of the Township of Vernon does hereby call upon its representatives in the State Legislature to oppose the adoption of this bill.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this Resolution shall be sent to the Office of the Governor, the Sponsors of Bill A-3553, Senator Steven V. Oroho, Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose, the Sussex County Board of Elections, the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

Motion

Council President Rizzuto explained the request by Ms. Brady to waive the code requirement for a restoration bond while rebuilding her home that had been destroyed by a fire. He added that due to a series of unfortunate events, her finances were strained at this time and that she would be living in a travel trailer during the re-construction.

Mr. Rizzuto asked for a motion to waive the Township requirement for a restoration bond per Code 330-190 for placement of a transportable structure at 10 Canal Road owned by Jane Brady.

Moved: Daniel Kadish
Second: Dick Wetzel

Council Member Dunn asked if there was any risk in waiving this requirement. Mayor Marotta advised that there was no more of a risk that we already have, and that there was far less of a downside to granting the request than requiring the bond.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Motion was carried.

Ordinances

1st Reading of Ordinance #13-03 by Title Only

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to approve Ordinance #13-03 on 1st reading by title only.
Motion: Dick Wetzel
Second: Brian Lynch

The Council President asked the Mayor to explain the purpose of this Cap Bank ordinance. Mayor Marotta noted that this was being considered at the recommendation of the auditor, and that it was a stop-gap in the event of any unforeseen catastrophe. The auditor felt that it was good management and good judgment for the Council to adopt this ordinance.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Ordinance #13-03 was approved on 1st reading.

Ordinance #13-03: An Ordinance to Exceed Budget & Establish Cap Bank


1st Reading of Ordinance #13-04 by Title Only

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to approve Ordinance #13-04 on 1st reading by title only.
Motion: Brian Lynch
Second: Eddie Dunn

Mayor Marotta noted the following:

  1. this ordinance had been under review by the Land Use Board for over a year
  2. when the redevelopment zone was presented to the State, it was not approved
  3. the entire Land Use Board felt a more even-handed approach would be to have one zone
  4. input from the Planner, Engineer, Attorney, public comments, and testimony at meetings were all considered during the Land Use Board process

Council President Rizzuto noted he was in agreement with the Mayor, as a Land Use Board member. He advised that this ordinance was developed for a guide to developers coming into the area to know what requirements for design standards are in place. It helps to expedite the process, and gives a theme within the community. He suggested that the planner should be present at the public hearing for the 2nd reading.

Council Member Kadish felt that mixed use buildings should be offset from the first and second floors with perhaps a balcony.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto Nays: None Ordinance #13-04 was approved on 1st reading.

Ordinance #13-04: An Ordinance Repealing and Replacing Chapter 330-184.B Town Center District, Adding Design Guidelines for the C-2 Zone and Repealing Ordinances 07-43 and 08-02


2013 Municipal Budget

Mayor Marotta noted all the input and efforts in putting the budget together. He presented the budget summary, advising that copies were available for the public. He outlined the following:

  • 2013 budget is reduced by 13/4 tax points from the 2012 budget figures;
  • Revenues—we are anticipating some grants that may come in during the year which will change the projected figures (Recycling, Safe & Secure Communities, etc.);
  • Appropriations—a new line item for Bond Sinking Fund, to prepare for future bond funding;
  • Total of $396,596 less than 2012;
  • Municipal tax rate will decrease for the 2nd year in a row;
  • School Board will also bring in a budget less than 2012;
  • Mortgage escrow accounts will not go up for residents.

Council President Rizzuto thanked the Mayor on behalf of the community. He complimented the Mayor, staff, and employees for their hard working efforts. He praised the employees for serving the community, and doing it well.

Council Member Dunn felt we are bucking the trend of upswings in costs by lowering them.

The Council President asked for a motion to approve Resolution #13-72.
Moved: Dick Wetzel
Second: Brian Lynch

Mayor Marotta advised that the penny savings will multiply for each homeowner, noting that financial planning is made easier by the union contracts being set for the next four years and at the lower percentage increases.

Mr. Zuckerman advised that the fund balance after adoption = $1.9M (+change), and the State recommends $2M.

Council Member Dunn asked Mr. Zuckerman what other towns were doing. Mr. Zuckerman advised that most are struggling and using their surplus to get by.

Council Member Lynch felt that the “sinking fund” is a very good plan to provide for future Councils.

The Mayor explained that this was part of a 5-year plan for operating and capital funds. He thanked the Council for their approvals of requests for moving of funds or borrowing of funds, including what was needed to fund the start-up of the Municipal Utilities Authority.

Council President Rizzuto noted that the Mayor has made great efforts on behalf of the Township.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Eddie Dunn, Daniel Kadish, Brian Lynch, Dick Wetzel, Patrick Rizzuto
Nays: None
Resolution #13-72 was approved.

Resolution #13-72: Introduction of Year 2013 Municipal Budget

BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, New Jersey, that the following statements of revenues and appropriations shall constitute the Municipal Budget for the year 2013.

GENERAL REVENUE
Total Revenues$22,651,175.00
GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS
Total Appropriations$22,651,175.00

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all items of revenue and appropriations, including unexpended balances of 2012 appropriations in the approximate sum of $860,106.84, are hereby approved.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the said budget be published on March 15, 2013, in the New Jersey Herald and that a hearing on the 2013 Budget and 2013 Tax Resolution will be held at the Vernon Municipal Building on April 8, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. or as soon thereafter as the matter may be reached.

Mr. Zuckerman asked that the agenda for the Council meeting of April 8, 2013, include the public hearing on the 2013 Municipal Budget.

Council Business

Council Member Lynch noted the School Board’s efforts to keep their budget as low as possible, noting we are all neighbors, and the cooperation and fiscal progress is great. He felt that Council needs to talk to the County about their budget. He expressed curiosity if other towns in the State have been able to do the same as Vernon.

Council Member Wetzel complimented the Mayor and Council and the Board of Education on their great efforts and cooperation.

Council Member Kadish had no comments at this time.

Council Member Dunn was in agreement with his fellow Council, and thanked the Mayor for his hard work.

Council President

Council President Rizzuto noted the following items:

  • He would write a letter to the Mayor complimenting the employee’s efforts;
  • Now that we are moving into the spring, there are lots of outdoor activities for everyone to partake in. He advised that Community Garden plots were still available for anyone interested, noting they should contact Missi Wiedbrauk at the Municipal Center.

Adjournment

There being no further items of business to be conducted at the Regular Meeting, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Lynch. Motion seconded by Council Member Dunn, with all members voting in favor.

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 9:06 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan S. Nelson, RMC
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: May 13, 2013