Minutes: March 11, 2019

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 6:00 p.m. on March 11, 2019 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 January 3, 2019 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.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger and Council President Murphy, Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, and Township Attorney Marlin Townes.

Executive Session

Attorney Townes read the Resolution for the Council to enter Executive Session.

Resolution to Go into Executive Session

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 permits the exclusion of the public in certain circumstances; and

WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon as follows:

1. The public shall be excluded from discussion of and action upon the hereinafter specified subject matter.

2. The general nature of the subject matters to be discussed are:

a. Property Acquisition

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to go into Executive Session at 6:01 p.m.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members of the Council were in favor.
Motion carried to enter Executive Session.

At 6:37 p.m. Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the Executive Session and return to open session at 7:00 p.m.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Jean Murphy
All members of the Council were in favor.

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on March 11, 2019 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 January 3, 2019 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.

Roll Call

Present were Council Members Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger and Council President Murphy, Mayor Harry Shortway, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, and Township Attorney Marlin Townes.

Salute to the Flag

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

Proclamations

Council President Murphy asked Carol Kadish to come forward for the Proclamation for Dan Kadish Month.

Councilman Dan Kadish Month

WHEREAS, Councilman Dan Kadish and his family moved to Vernon in the 1940s to become dairy farmers; and

WHEREAS, Councilman Kadish even after receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale and serving as a college instructor for 20 years, never forgot his humble beginnings; and

WHEREAS, Councilman Kadish returned to Vernon to serve the public and raise cattle at Prices Switch Farm; and

WHEREAS, choosing to enter public service to enrich one’s community requires a person with special qualities and a commitment to promote the interests of others over his own; and

WHEREAS, Councilman Dan Kadish possessed those qualities needed for a strong leader and advocate for the community serving on various boards and commissions as well as the Vernon Township Council from 1995 to 1999 and again from 2011 until his untimely passing; and

WHEREAS, the lessons we have learned from Councilman Kadish and his steadfast resolve to serve the community he loved will not be forgotten.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT PROCLAIMED, by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Vernon, that March 2019 be proclaimed as Dan Kadish Month in the Township of Vernon.

Presented this 11th day of March 2019

Public Comments (On Current Agenda Items Only)

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Seeing no members of the public wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Minutes

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve the Special Meeting Minutes of February 15, 2019.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: Patrick Curreri
Absent: None
Motion carried to approve the Special Meeting Minutes February 15, 2019

Items for Discussion

Salary Ordinance

Council President Murphy asked the Township Attorney to review if wording in Salary Ordinance adopted in 2018 is sufficient to repeal all prior positions that may be in prior Ordinances but do not exist currently. She questioned if wording is not sufficient, can one of these prior positions be made active without current Council approval. Attorney Townes explained since the position has not been formally eliminated, it would still exist and instructed Council to revise the action by Ordinance with a formal repeal.

Consent Agenda

Council President Murphy read the title and gave a brief explanation of Resolutions #19-85 through #19-88.

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to approve Resolutions #19-85 through #19-88.
Moved: John Auberger
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to approve Resolutions #19-85 through #19-88.

Resolution #19-85: Authorizing Execution of a Contract with Minerals Hotel for the Vernon Township Senior Luncheon to Be Held on April 26, 2019

WHEREAS, the Vernon Township Department of Community Affairs sponsors an annual Senior Appreciation Luncheon; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon desires to enter into a contract with Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg, NJ, to host and cater this event; and

WHEREAS, the event is currently scheduled for April 26, 2019 at a cost not to exceed $5,000.00; and

WHEREAS, the Chief Finance Officer has certified that funds are available for this purpose subject to the adoption of the 2019 Municipal Budget.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the Mayor is authorized to sign the attached Contract with Minerals Hotel for the purpose of hosting and catering the Senior Luncheon on April 26, 2019 at a cost not to exceed $5,000.00.

Resolution #19-86: Emergency Temporary Appropriations

WHEREAS, an emergent condition has arisen in that the Township is expected to enter in contracts, commitments or payments prior to the 2019 budget and no adequate provision has been made in the 2019 temporary budget for the aforesaid purposes, and

WHEREAS, N.J.S. 40A:4-20 provides for the creation of an emergency temporary appropriation for said purpose, and

WHEREAS, the total emergency temporary appropriation resolutions adopted in the year 2019 pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 96, P.L. 1951 (N.J.S.A. 40A:4-20) including this resolution total:

Current Fund
Recycling O/E $1,000.00
Road Repairs & Maint. O/E $50,000.00

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body of the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, (not less than two-thirds of all the members thereof affirmatively concurring) that in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 40A:4-20:

1. Emergency temporary appropriations be and the same are hereby made in the amount of:

Current Fund
Recycling O/E $1,000.00
Road Repairs & Maint. O/E $50,000.00

2. Said emergency temporary appropriations will be provided for in the 2019 budget.

3. That one certified copy of this resolution be filed with the Director, Division of Local Government Services.

Resolution #19-87: Resolution Authorizing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office to Assign Personnel to Assist with Operation Helping Hand and to Receive Grant Funds

WHEREAS, the State of New Jersey, Department of Health (DOH) applied for and received funds from the Center for Disease Control under the FFY2018 Cooperative Agreement for Emergency Response: Public Health Crisis Response—2018 Opioid Crisis. In turn, The State of New Jersey, Department of Law & Public Safety, Office of the Attorney General applied for and received a subaward from DOH to administer the Operation Helping Hand initiative. A total of $1,000,000.00 of the sub-award from DOH was awarded to participating counties, for use by August 31, 2019; and

WHEREAS, under the Operation Helping Hand initiative, counties are eligible to receive grant funding to establish or expand programs like Bergen County’s model Operation Helping Hand in which law enforcement officers play an active role in identifying individuals with substance use disorders and-together with community partners-serve as a point of entry for treatment and/or recovery support services; and

WHEREAS, in June 2018, Union, Morris, Passaic, and Sussex Counties joined Bergen County in a coordinated five-county Operation Helping Hand initiative; and

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon Police Department is eligible to participate in the Operation Helping Hand initiative with the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office; and

WHEREAS, a determination has been made that it is in the best interests of the Township to participate in the Operation Helping Hand initiative; and

WHEREAS, the Township and the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office desire to enter a memorandum of agreement concerning the Township’s participation in Operation Helping Hand and receipt of grant funds for overtime-related expenses.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that the Mayor is hereby authorized to execute a memorandum of agreement between the Township and the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office in a form similar to the document attached hereto. The Township Attorney may make applicable language changes deemed in the best interest of the Township.

Resolution #19-88: Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon Authorizing the Award of Financial Services Software Services for the Through the Competitive Contracting Process CC# 2-2019

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a desire to provide for provide for financial data services software offerings for the operation of its financial matters in accord with the New Jersey Local Fiscal Affairs Law; and

WHEREAS, such services are currently available to be provided through the competitive contracting process under the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-4.1, and for a period of seven (7) years under N.J.S.A 40A:11-15; and

WHEREAS, the Township received Competitive Contract proposals, CC# 2-2019 on February 7, 2019 at 10:30 A.M.; and

WHEREAS, the Township authorized the competitive contract process though council approved resolution, in accord with the prescripts of N.J.S.A.40A:11-4.1 through resolution #19-53; and

WHEREAS, the Township established a rating committee rating the proposals upon the standards of price and other factors, those factors being Technical, Managerial and Cost factors in accord with N.J.A.C.5:34-4; and

WHEREAS, Edmunds and Associates Inc., 301 Tilton Road, Northfield, N.J. 08225, has provided a proposal deemed responsive and responsible under the New Jersey Local Publics Contract Law (N.J.S.A.40A:11-1 et seq.,); and

WHEREAS, the report produced by the committee, recommending Edmunds and Associates Inc., was made available to the public and governing body at least 48 hours prior to the meeting of the governing body in accord with N.J.S.A 40A:11-4.1 and N.J.A.C 5:34-4; and

WHEREAS, subject to governing body approval of the 2019 and subsequent budgets the amount of contract is not to exceed yearly:

2019$9,975.00
2020$9,219.00
2021$9,658.00
2022$10,141.00
2023$10,512.00
2024$10,950.00
2025$11,388.00

Introduction/1st Reading of Proposed Ordinances

Council President Murphy read Ordinance #19-05 by title only:

Ordinance #19-05: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 89 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Regarding Bereavement Leave for Non-Union Employees

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #19-05 with a public hearing to be held on March 25, 2019.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: John Auberger

Council Member Ooms questioned how many days an employee would be allowed to take as it is not in the Ordinance. Mr. Voelker explained that the non-union employees would earn the same as the bargaining units and the amount will be incorporated in the revised personnel manual.

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #19-05 with a public hearing to be held on March 25, 2019

Council President Murphy read Ordinance #19-06 by title only:

Ordinance #19-06: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending and Supplementing Chapter 130 of the Code of the Township of Vernon Regarding Vacant and Abandoned Property Fees

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to introduce with a public hearing to be held on March 25, 2019.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Sandra Ooms, Patrick Curreri, Mark Van Tassel, John Auberger, Jean Murphy
Nays: None
Abstain: None
Absent: None
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #19-06 with a public hearing to be held on March 25, 2019

Public Comments (Limited to 3 minutes on any topic)

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

Ron Longstaff along with Scott Mooney, 144 Coon Den, stated he receive a notice of violation from Vernon Township that fee was not paid for his vacant/abandoned house per rules of Ordinance#18-15. Mr. Longstaff stated that in his opinion the Ordinance does not pertain to his property. He added he spoke to the Zoning Officer and explained only one of the 15 items in the ordinance pertain to him and was told to come before Council to determine his violation. Council President Murphy explained that enforcement is done by the Zoning Officer. Mr. Voelker stated he spoke with Mr. Longstaff’s attorney and explained the requirements of the Ordinance and the amendment being proposed. Mr. Longstaff explained he bought a foreclosed house, obtained the necessary CO and building permits for improvements, taxes are current but doesn’t understand why the violation. Mr. Voelker explained that the property was on the vacant list prior to Mr. Longstaff buying it which is why the Zoning Officer sent the notice and if not paid will ultimately be decided by the Judge. The owner stated he is making necessary repairs before putting the house on the market and does not understand what gives the Township the right to tell him where to live. Council Member Ooms questioned why the owner is not compliant with the Ordinance.

Mr. Longstaff listed the items in the Ordinance which do not pertain to his property indicating some he had just remedied in the last few days. Mr. Longstaff claimed that nothing was divulged at the closing to him at his closing. Attorney Townes explained that the vacant and abandon property ordinance is based on state statute and if anyone take issues must pursue remedies in court. Mr. Longstaff questioned how to obtain a list of all of the abandoned properties in Vernon. Mr. Voelker explained the documents can be requested through OPRA at the Municipal Clerk’s office.

Jackie Espinosa, JCPL, explained that JCPL will be doing routine tree trimming maintenance in May 2019 to maintain reliable electricity services. Nelson Tree Service will contact the Township two weeks prior to starting to submit a plan. Ms. Espinosa thanked the Police Department for their recent assistance to JCPL providing traffic safety during an outage on RT 94. Mr. Voelker asked JCPL to provide the Police Department with the tree trimming plan as well.

Sally Rinker congratulated new Council Member Curreri on his appointment and thanked him for willingness to serve the residents and taxpayers. She added that she also submitted a letter to be considered for the vacant seat of Dan Kadish who had told her they share a common belief that government can be good. Ms. Rinker opined that Council President Murphy will attempt to control other’s votes by manipulating information. Ms. Rinker commented on the Council President and former Council Member Kadish.

Ms. Rinker felt that the process that Mr. Curreri was appointed is at issue. She noted that when she was Mayor she refused to swear in a candidate because she felt that the legal and democratic process was subverted. Ms. Rinker addressed Mr. Curreri and stated he may not be aware of the process the Council did to fill the seat. She explained when Vernon worked to change the form of government in 2010, it was because of age old process of handpicking council members.

Ms. Rinker claimed that there should have been public notice calling for candidates in a fair process. Ms. Rinker took exception to the Resolution that appointed the new member of the Council. She indicated that legislative decisions are to be voted on in public and questioned the resolution, which she opinied may be a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. Ms. Rinker questioned how the Township Attorney allowed the appointment and opined that counsel misinterpreted the law. Attorney Townes asserted a Point of Order to Ms. Rinker.

Ms. Rinker opined that some politicians are driven by self-motivation and do not abide by their Oath of Office. Ms. Rinker stated she has not seen Mr. Curreri at township meetings or involved in any groups as she has been. She added that Mr. Curreri should work with Council Member Ooms who is a defender of good government and to become knowledgeable about the Faulkner Act.

Attorney Townes explained to the public and Ms. Rinker that the appointment process was done consistently with state statutes and added that Ms. Rinker’s defamatory statements can have consequences.

Scott Geysels questioned if Mr. Curreri’s appointment is for the balance of Mr. Kadish’s term ending 12/31/2019.

Council President Murphy confirmed that Council has the authority to appoint an interim member for the vacant position.

Seeing no further members of the public wishing to come forward, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the meeting to public comments.
Moved: Mark Van Tassel
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members voted in favor.

Mayor’s Report

Mayor Shortway congratulated Patrick Curreri on being appointed to the Council and looks forward to working with him.

Council Comments

Council Member Ooms questioned clarification on the day and time of next budget worksession. Council President Murphy stated the worksession is scheduled on March 20, 2019 at 5:00 pm and reminded all Council Members to bring all budget recommendations.

Council Member Auberger made no comments.

Council Member Van Tassel made no comments.

Council Member Curreri commented it is an honor to be part of the Council and interested in serving the public and thanks everyone for their warm welcomes.

Council President Comments

Council President Murphy welcomed Patrick Curreri to the Council and noted the appointment process was open and posted as required. She added that two Oaths of Office were drafted for the public meeting contingent to the Council’s approval of whomever would be the new member. Council President Murphy commented that Mr. Curreri was being groomed by Mr. Kadish for his upcoming seat next year and expressed Vernon’s loss of Mr. Kadish.

Adjournment

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

The Regular Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 7:38 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: April 8, 2019