Minutes: March 28, 2022

YouTube video of the March 28, 2022 council meeting »

This meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on March 28, 2022 via Zoom Webinar and 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 has been provided to the public and the press on January 14, 2022 and on January 18, 2022 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 Natalie Buccieri, Michael Furrey, Brian Lynch, Harry Shortway and Council President Patrick Rizzuto. Also present were Mayor Howard Burrell, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, Municipal Clerk Marcy Gianattasio and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

SALUTE TO THE FLAG

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

Council President Rizzuto made comment on the matter of Council's work that they have been doing for quite a while. It started at the end of 2021 and it is culminating tonight with a presentation of the budget for this coming year and he believes that the public will be happy with the results. It is the first budget in six years that will result in no tax increase. This with the Council, the Chief Financial Officer and most importantly the Department Heads and the members of our community staff who were most helpful in bringing this savings along. The Mayor presented us with a very good starting point and Council President Rizzuto thanked him for that. The distance that we had to travel to reduce this to a no tax increase was greatly decreased by his ability to bring us a document that allowed us to make this move.

MAYOR COMMENTS

At the March 21 Council Budget Hearing, I presented the Council a Proposed 2022 Municipal Budget that contained only a 1.7% municipal tax increase.

I use the term "only" a 1.7% municipal tax increase, because limiting this year's tax burden on our residents to just 1.7% was quite an accomplishment, given the three critical facts that:

1. The nation's 7.9% rate of inflation has already resulted in our town having to start this year off paying more for those goods and services that are absolutely needed as a part on our normal operation; and I mean all goods and services, ranging from printer paper and cleaning supplies, to gas and diesel fuel for our police, DPW, fire and ambulance vehicles;

2. This year, the municipality has been required by the State to absorb cost increases, that are above the rate of inflation, for the Health Insurance we provide our employees - - i.e., these costs are up a whopping 14%; and ...

3. This year, the municipality has been required by the State to also absorb cost increases for the statutorily required Social Security and Pension payments for retired municipal regular workers and police personnel - - i.e., these costs are up 8%.

However, at that Budget Hearing, Council Member Brian Lynch asked me if I would be willing to work with the Council to see if we could, together, reduce that 1.7% proposed municipal tax increase, to an actual 0% municipal tax increase. I committed to him and the entire Council that I would work with them to achieve this very positive goal.

So while I am very proud of the fact that Chief Financial Officer Donelle Bright, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, our Department Heads, and I put in the time, effort and attention to detail required to present the Council a Proposed 2022 Municipal Budget that contained only a 1.7% municipal tax increase, I am even prouder of the fact that the Council and the Mayor were able to work together to reach the goal of giving our residents and taxpayers a 0% municipal tax increase budget!

That 0% municipal tax increase budget is on tonight's agenda, in the form of Resolution # 22-82, for introduction by the Council.

Consistent with what I did last year, as a way of sharing more budget related information with the public, I have again this year asked Chief Financial Officer Donelle Bright to provide a short PowerPoint presentation that will summarize this year's budget, and provide the public more insight as to how we plan to use their tax dollars.

At the March 14 Council Meeting, I expressed the strong belief that a door for possible municipal governing corporation had been cracked open. I additionally said that I planned to not only do everything that I could to push that door open even more, but that I also planned to walk through that door.

I believe that the budget development teamwork between the members of the Council, and the Council as a collective group with the Mayor, reflects the fact that not only did I walk through that door, but that the Council as a collective group also walked through that door with me.

I want to publicly thank the Council Members for your challenging but positive and constructive budget input.

I embrace the words of the great American author, disability rights advocate, political activist and lecturer, Ms. Helen Adams Keller - - Ms. Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; but together we can do so much."

The work of the Council and the Mayor on the 2022 municipal budget is a great example of the wisdom of Ms. Keller's quote.

This month, the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute announced the towns that they had recognized as winners of their "Healthy Town" awards for 2021.

The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. Their objective is to improve health care quality and safety, expand access to good care, and control costs for employers and consumers.

One of their ways of accomplishing these objectives is through their Mayors Wellness Campaign that they operate in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.

The Mayors Wellness Campaign is a statewide community health initiative that provides evidence-based tools and strategies for mayors and community leaders to help their residents achieve healthier lifestyles and to improve overall health and wellness in their communities.

A total of 422 New Jersey municipalities participated in the Mayors Wellness Campaign; and, based on the 2021 results, Vernon Township was one of only seven of those municipalities that were awarded as Healthy Towns to Watch.

We were also the only town in Sussex County to receive this award.

This was the second consecutive year that Vernon has received this honor.

This month, the Statewide Insurance Fund rewarded Vernon Township's robust and expansive safety and loss programs by selecting our Town to receive their Safety Program Award for 2021.

This award recognizes municipalities that maintain safety and risk management programs, demonstrate an ongoing effort to improve those practices, and are receptive to the recommendations of loss control professionals.

The achievement of this special award is significant, because Vernon's safety and loss control programs not only contribute to our efforts to keep our employees and the public safe, they also contribute to our efforts to reduce the amount of tax dollars that the Town is required to pass on to homeowners for the cost of municipal employee's injury time away from the job, and the cost of insurance.

Programs of this nature are part of municipal strategy to save the dollars of Vernon taxpayers, by not only worker harder, but by also working smarter!

During March, Vernon Township received recognitions from not just at the State of New Jersey level, but also from the national level.

The March issue of the national travel magazine, Travel & Leisure, recognized Vernon Township as one of the "10 Charming Small Towns to Visit Along the Appalachian Trail."

The magazine published the following about Vernon Township:

"Located in Northern New Jersey along the Appalachian Trail, Vernon more than delivers on the small-town charm. After cranking out all that mileage from walking the trail, relax at Mountain Creek Resort and enjoy a zip line tour, snow tubing, or an aerial adventure park in the trees right on-site. If you're visiting in the fall, take a turn apple or pumpkin picking at Heaven Hill Farm or Pochuk Valley Farms, or linger over live music and a glass of wine, cider, or spirits at Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery.

The spring is another ideal time to visit Vernon and walk its Appalachian Boardwalk and Stairway to Heaven Trail (prepare for your jaw to drop at the beautiful view from the Pinwheel Vista), both of which are connected to the Appalachian Trail. Summer and winter are pretty packed in this pocket of the Garden State, so you may prefer off-season travel to enjoy its ample natural wonders."

This recognition from Travel & Leisure Magazine is important because it is a top travel media brand that reaches more than 16 million travelers every month.

We live in a great town, and others keep making us aware of that fact on a state and national level.

Let's embrace this fact, and work together as a community to make an already very good town even better!

Like so many other events and programs designed to enhance our quality of life, the Honor Flight Network was put on hold due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

However, this program has started up again, and a Vernon resident, Ms. Linda Smigen, is playing a key and caring role.

The Honor Flight Network was formed in 2005, with the mission of honoring our nation's veterans by bringing them to Washington, DC to visit the memorials and monuments dedicated to their service and sacrifice.

While originally focused on honoring our nation's World War II veterans, the Honor Flight Network now also honors those who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, other operations, and in special cases of terminal illness or injury, veterans from more recent service periods.

Since its formation in 2005, the Honor Flight Network has taken more than 245,000 veterans to Washington D.C.

Today, the Honor Flight Network is comprised of over 128 hubs throughout the country that are dedicated to carrying out the Honor Flight mission. The Network, as a whole, serves over 22,000 veterans each year.

Ms. Smigen serves with the Hudson Valley Hub. She will be escorting 95-year-old Sussex County WWII Navy Veteran, Mr. Ed Mindlin, on an Honor Flight to our nation's capital.

In addition to her service with the Hudson Valley Hub of the Honor Flight Network, Ms. Smigen is one of our municipal employees who has also proven to be a valuable volunteer resource for our town - - she played a key role in forming the VERNON CARES organization, and has been honored by our Congressman Josh Gottheimer as one of the 5th Congressional Districts Home Town Heroes.

Thank you, Ms. Smigen; our town and the surrounding community are better places to live because of you!

PUBLIC COMMENTS (For Current Agenda Items Only, Limited to 3 Minutes Per Person)

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the meeting to Public Comments.
MOVED: Brian Lynch
SECOND: Natalie Buccieri
All members voted in favor.

Jessica Paladini - Vernon Township, asked for an explanation on the cap in the ordinance list if there is going to be a zero percent increase.

CFO Bright explained the appropriations cap is something that is done routinely. This ordinance increases the cap for appropriations not the amount to be raised by taxation.

Tom McClachrie - Vernon Township, feels that New Jersey has the most aggressive property taxes in the nation. He asked that due to the reevaluation how much is going to be given back to the average taxpayer.

Seeing no one else from the public wishing to come forward, Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the meeting to Public Comments.
MOVED: Brian Lynch
SECOND: Natalie Buccieri
All members were in favor.

REVIEW OF BILLS LIST

The Council reviewed the bills list.

MINUTES

February 28, 2022 - Regular Meeting

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to approve the February 28, 2022 regular meeting minutes.
MOVED: Michael Furrey
SECOND: Harry Shortway

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve the February 28, 2022 regular meeting minutes.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution #22-77: Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon in Support of Adult-Use Cannabis Retailer License for Castle of Greens

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-77 on the floor.

Council Member Lynch explained that this resolution is only in support of Castle of Greens going forward with the State.
MOVED: Michael Furrey
SECOND: Brian Lynch

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Furrey, Lynch, Shortway
NAYS: Buccieri, Rizzuto
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve resolution #22-77.

Council President feels that a resolution for a previous applicant were much more advantageous than this one.

Resolution #22-78: Resolution Concerning the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-78 on the floor.
MOVED: Brian Lynch
SECOND:
Motion fails for resolution #22-78.

Council Member Furrey tried to make a motion from the floor for a resolution. He feels that it is important for the people of Vernon to know what happened and it should be seriously considered and investigated because there was a loss of about $1.7 million and this combined with other issues which have happened with the MUA have most likely caused rate increases. The Township owns the MUA therefore, we should consider a forensic audit of the MUA.

Township Attorney Zielinski explained that it is the Council President's agenda and the Council President's decision if the motion can be made from the floor.

Council Member Buccieri made a motion to revisit resolution #22-78. Seconded by Council Member Lynch.
MOVED: Natalie Buccieri
SECOND: Brian Lynch

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Lynch, Rizzuto
NAYS: Furrey, Shortway
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to revisit resolution #22-78.

Council Member Buccieri does agree that this is a serious issue that requires detailed attention and investigation. She feels that the MUA should be given some time to conduct an investigation before the Council takes an aggressive position.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-78 on the floor for consideration.
MOVED: Natalie Buccieri
SECOND: Brian Lynch

Council Member Buccieri explained that she would like to give the MUA the time to do the investigation and we could talk about a time frame. If the investigation is not done to our satisfaction and not done thoroughly, we can then have a more aggressive resolution.

Council Member Lynch feels that it is not the Council's job to be heavy handed with any authority or committee. He feels that we have qualified people on the MUA and we owe it to them to do their job. Until they do not do their job, it is not our job to overstep our boundaries and tell them what to do.

Council Member Furrey explained that he was on the MUA for two years and in that time, they did some positive things. We did not discover this. Our job as members of the MUA is to help run the MUA to the best of our ability. He agrees that the MUA has great members and they should be afforded the opportunity to conduct the investigation but he still honestly believes that no matter what the MUA does, we still have a responsibility as a township to respond.

Council Member Shortway does not like the term aggressive but he would like to have a secondary plan including a resolution. Although it is true, we own the asset we are also responsible for the debt and we are talking about millions of dollars.

Council President Rizzuto explained that he had spoken to Council Member Furrey about the previous resolution, and after speaking with attorneys and auditors, he felt the best way that this could be handled without having this develop into some type of situation that began to grow without any base in fact was to let the authority do their work. When they were conceived, they were conceived as an authority not a part of the govern. Council President Rizzuto feels that by virtue of letting this authority proceed by their charter to work with the attorney and their auditor, in tracing down what happened. This happened over a period of time and during that time, Mr. Shortway was the Mayor and he had members of the Council sitting on the board. When the authority was conceived, Council President Rizzuto was a member of the Council as was Mr. Lynch. The actual running of the MUA was left to the people who were involved and who were responsive. To immediately move to have an investigation already ongoing and immediately move to have a forensic investigation, Council President Rizzuto questions if we are getting ahead of ourselves in terms of tracking down this information. He would check with the auditor first to find out why in fact there was this discrepancy. Unless we are talking about different numbers it is not multi millions, it is in excess of a million but we do not know how much. Council President Rizzuto questions the people who were doing the tax reevaluation as well as the auditor. He thinks only those people who are working closely with the authority have the ability to answer those questions. He supports the resolution as proposed and we can revisit it at a later date. The resolution calls for a response from the authority to the Council which is normally done twice a year. We had our first report in February and he does not have any knowledge of a previous report from the authority to a Council since around 2016.

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Lynch, Rizzuto
NAYS: Furrey, Shortway
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve resolution #22-78.

Resolution #22-79: Governing Body Certification of Compliance with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's "Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964"

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-79 on the floor for consideration.
MOVED: Brian Lynch
SECOND: Michael Furrey

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve resolution #22-79.

10. CONSENT AGENDA

Resolution #22-80: Resolution of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Authorizing the Award of it Consulting Support Services to Integrated Microsystems Inc. Through the Competitive Contracting Process

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-80 on the floor for consideration.
MOVED: Brian Lynch
SECOND: Natalie Buccieri

Council President Rizzuto asked if the camera could be adjusted for the public to see better.

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve resolution #22-80.

Resolution #22-81: Transfer Resolution - Balance Transfers

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-81 on the floor for consideration.
MOVED: Natalie Buccieri
SECOND: Michael Furrey

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve resolution #22-81.

Resolution #22-83: Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon Opposing a Proposal by the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Chapters of the Sierra Club to Change the Designation of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to the Delaware River National Park and Lenape Preserve Until a Formal Plan is Presented for Public Review and Comment.

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-83 on the floor for consideration.
MOVED: Michael Furrey
SECOND: Natalie Buccieri

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to approve resolution #22-83.

INTRODUCTION/1ST READING OF PROPOSED ORDINANCES

Ordinance #22-07: Calendar Year 2022 Ordinance to Exceed the Municipal Budget Appropriation Limits and to Establish a Cap Bank (N.J.S.A. 40A: 4-45.14)

Council President Rizzuto read by title Ordinance #22-07

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #22-07
MOVED: Brain Lynch
SECOND: Michael Furrey
All members were in favor.
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #22-07

Ordinance #22-08: Bond Ordinance Providing for the Acquisition of a New Fire Truck by the Township of Vernon, in the County of Sussex, New Jersey, Appropriating $655,000 Therefor and Authorizing the Issuance of $424,047 Bonds or Notes of the Township for Financing Such Appropriation

Council President Rizzuto read by title Ordinance #22-08

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #22-08
MOVED: Brain Lynch
SECOND: Michael Furrey

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #22-08

INTRODUCTION OF THE 2022 MUNICIPAL BUDGET

Resolution #22-82: Introduction of the 2022 Municipal Budget

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to place resolution #22-82 on the floor for consideration.
MOVED: Natalie Buccieri
SECOND: Harry Shortway

CFO Donelle Bright gave a presentation on the introduction of the 2022 Municipal Budget.

Summary of 2022 Current Fund Budget

  • $16,706,567.00 in Municipal Operations Appropriations
  • $5,107,206.59 in Debt Service and Capital Appropriations
  • $2,841,080.48 in Reserve for Uncollected Taxes
  • $1,940,243.00 in SCMUA billing (repaid by the VTMUA)
  • Budget Revenues: $9,939,541.74
  • Amount to Be Raised by Taxation: $18,975,458.26

Local Municipal Tax Rate

  • 2022 Assessed Value: $2,807,508,308
  • 2021 Assessed Value: $2,459,644,667
  • 2022 Average Assessed Home: $237,500
  • 2021 Average Assessed Home: $206,351
  • 2022 Municipal Tax Rate: 0.676
  • 2021 Municipal Tax Rate: 0.771
  • $0 Increase on Average Home
  • 2022 Average Municipal Taxes: $1,605

2022 Versus

  • Fund Balance Used: $1,000,000.00
  • Fund Balance Remaining: $5,826,076.64
  • Fund Balance % of Budget: 19.54%
  • Ideal level at 20-30% of budget for emergency needs and to meet cash obligation in current fund (County and School Taxes)
  • Home Values Increased
  • Vernon Paying reducing debt burden on future years' budgets
  • Vernon increasing smart capital budgeting with cash payments

2021

  • Fund Balance Used: $625,000.00
  • Fund Balance Remaining: $3,833,593.80
  • Fund Balance at 12/31/2021: $6,826,076.64
  • Reassessment leveled out disproportionately taxed properties
  • Large Increase in home sales and home values
  • Bonded debt at record low interest rates
  • Paid off large sums of debt to reduce future liabilities.

2022 Budget Highlights

  • $900k increase in cash capital payments instead of debt issuance
  • $400k decrease in debt service
  • Four new Shared Service agreements for Animal Control
  • Capital needs being addressed: Road repairs, Fire vehicles and equipment, park improvements to Veteran's Park, Police and DPW vehicles and equipment, 9-1-1 Communications equipment, and building/property upgrades including upgrades at Animal Control
  • Future Capital needs being addressed through establishment of Capital Reserves (Police, Fire, EMS, etc...)

Services

  • General Government: Administration, Governing Body, Township Clerk, Finance and Tax Collection, Tax Assessment, Land Use, Court, Building Department, Animal Control, Technology, Legal and Engineering, Committees, Utilities, Shared Services, Senior Center
  • Public Safety: Police Department, Emergency Medical Services (two Ambulance companies), Fire (Fire prevention and four fire departments), Fire equipment repair/maintenance, Fire volunteer training, Dispatching Services, Office of Emergency Management, Community-centered programs (Junior Police Academy, Operation Blue Elf, Cram a Cruiser, etc...
  • Department of Public Works: road repairs/maintenance, snow plowing of 100+miles of roads, drainage, tree removal, brush control, street sweeping, Clean Communities, recycling center, fleet maintenance, maintenance of buildings and grounds
  • Parks and Recreation: Maintenance of all fields/parks in the Township, recreation programs, Farmer's Market, joint programming provided with the PAL, Community Garden, Trick or Trail, Easter Egg Trail, etc...
  • Insurance: Unemployment, health insurance (after employee contributions), worker's compensation insurance (inclusive of Fire and EMS volunteers), general liability coverage, life and AD&D coverage, etc...

Obligations - Items not Controlled by Township

  • School Tax Levy
  • County Tax Levy
  • Statutory Obligations (FICA, PERS, & PFRS):
  • Pension increased over 11% this year-mandated by the State of New Jersey
  • Debt Service (notes, interest on notes, Reval note)
  • Record interest rates were seen in 2021, reducing the interest necessary for debt service in 2022
  • Township will continue smart debt issuance through 2027, when it sees a massive debt obligation drop off
  • Township will see removal of Reval note in 2023
  • Reserve for Uncollected Taxes (RUT)
  • Amount required to account for taxpayers who do not pay taxes on tome or at all (County and School must be paid)
  • Collection rate was 96.40% in 2021
  • Decrease this year of due to increase in collection

Services Cost Per Day

  • General Government $0.58
  • Public Safety $0.85
  • Dept. of Public Works $0.44
  • Parks/Community Affairs $0.06
  • Insurance $0.65
  • Statutory Obligations $0.37
  • Reserve for Uncollected Taxes $0.43
  • Capital/Debt/Deferred Charges $1.02
  • Daily Total $4.40

Council Member Furrey commented that the Department Heads, Mayor and Council worked well together to make the budget happen.

Council Member Lynch commented that back in November 2021 the most overwhelming comments he heard from the residents of Vernon was they were not sure the Council could get a handle on the taxes. He feels that after the hard work that Donelle, the staff, the Mayor and Council did he can honestly say promises made and promises kept, we are at a zero increase now in Vernon Township.

Council Member Buccieri feels that we were able to get a lot of good information, communicate and work together with a common goal of having a budget that did not pass on an increase to our community. This is something to be proud of and she is happy that the Council was able to work together with the administration, the department heads and the staff. It was definitely a positive group effort and Council Member Buccieri appreciates that.

Council Member Shortway concurs with the previous statements.

Council President Rizzuto commented saying that someone looking at the original amount, what it costs and what we are finally settling at would say it seems to be a lot of work for a very little return. Council President Rizzuto cannot agree with that and he does not think any member of the Council or the Mayor feels that way. In fact, it is dollars saved and more than that it is an example of what an elected body can do in terms of reducing its appropriations, revisiting the budget and seeing where it can be tightened a little bit more. We should spend tax dollars like we spend our own.

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Buccieri, Furrey, Lynch, Shortway, Rizzuto
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT:
Motion passed to introduce the 2022 Municipal Budget

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to open the meeting to Public Comments.
MOVED: Michael Furrey
SECOND: Brian Lynch
All members present voted in favor.

Kevin Duffy, Chief of Operation Glenwood/Pochuck Ambulance Corp. - demonstrated new life saving equipment that works in conjunction with an AED. The LUCUS 3 equipment takes over compressions to help save a person's life.

Bill Higgins -Vernon, asked about the 11% pension increase. He asked about the $6,000,000 in surplus based on historic numbers. Mr. Higgins asked how much money was received from grants. He explained that the school received $6.1 million in grants last year. Mr. Higgins also questioned the ordinance for the CAP bank.

Donelle Bright explained that pensions increased 11% which was State Mandate. She also explained that surplus is important so we can have cash flow to pay the school and the County who require a 100% payment. It is also important for emergencies like Covid to not have to raise taxes.

Council President Rizzuto explained that an item the Council is going to be looking at is how to increase our grant applications.

Steve Dunlop - Vernon Township, questioned ordinance #22-07 and asked if more money is needed than what is approved in the budget does this come before the Council. He also asked if the Council has any influence on the school, perhaps you can get them to have a zero-increase budget also. Mr. Dunlop told the Council that on Wednesday, Jersey Mike's is going to give 100% profits to the Special Olympics.

CFO Bright explained that the only way to spend more money than what is approved in the budget is to come before Council and they would have to approve an emergency appropriation.

Peg Distasi - Vernon Township, congratulated the Council and Mayor for a zero percent budget. She reminded the Council that the BOE is willing to share the services of their grant writer.

Tom McClachrie - Vernon Township, commented that the service most used by the residents is the DPW therefor we should be spending more money on the DPW and less on general administration.

Jessi Paladini - Vernon Township, told the Council to hire a grant writer. She does not know why the town is looking to pay to do marketing when she can do it for free with State money and she would be happy to meet with anyone who wants to know about it. Right now there is funding available from the Federal Government because we are a National Scenic Byway, the deadline is April 30th and she would like to know if there is any part of the town that need improvement. Ms. Paladini asked what is happening with the social media policy for town employees and volunteers.

Al Losco - Vernon Township, congratulated the Council for the zero percent budget. He asked the Council to look into the gun safety ordinance.

Francine Vince - Vernon Township, asked when the gun safety ordinance will be considered.

Ann Larson - Vernon Township, thanked the Council for the zero increase. She suggested that municipal credit cards could be pulled to prevent spending. Ms. Larson asked when refunds will be going out for the improper fines for the property maintenance agreement to homeowners who were impacted.

Attorney Zielinski explained there has been no judication in terms for Vernon's ordinance.

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Rizzuto asked for a motion to close the meeting for Public Comments.
MOTION: Brian Furrey
SECOND: Harry Shortway
All members present were in favor.

COUNCIL COMMENTS

Council Member Shortway had no comment.

Council Member Furrey has no comment.

Council Member Buccieri had no comment.

Council Member Lynch commented that he and Council President Rizzuto met with the road department and the Business Administrator this week and we reviewed the plan for paving and oil and stone. It is going to be a very active season for the road department this year.

Council Member Lynch thanked the Mayor and the entire Municipal staff for getting the budget together.

Council Member Lynch is meeting with a Mayor from another town to arrange for a truck to come to Vernon and pick up collected good to send to Ukraine.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT COMMENTS

Council President Rizzuto commented that the time spent with the Township Engineer and Mr. Babcock the DPW director was very informative. People say that they would like to have their roads paved versus using oil and stone. The cost of paving a road is five times more money than oil and stone. There are over 100 miles of road that are broken down into primary, secondary and tertiary roads. The DPW decides which roads are paved or oil and stoned depending on the amount of money in the areas, when it was last done and how much money is available. The township does have a schedule that is put together so that over a period of time, every road will be either paved or oil and stoned. Council President Rizzuto said Spring is coming so please keep an eye out for kids playing.

ADJOURNMENT

At 8:51 pm Council Member Lynch made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Seconded by Council Member Shortway.

All were in favor.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcy Gianattasio, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: April 11, 2022