Township Council Work Session
The Work Session of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 9, 2014, in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey. The purpose of this Work Session was to discuss the 2014 Municipal Operating Budget.
Statement of Compliance
Adequate notice of this work session was posted on the Township website and on the front door of the Municipal Building on January 7, 2014 in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6.
Salute to the Flag
The Council President led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.
Roll Call of Members
Present were Council Members Daniel Kadish, Jean Murphy, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel, and Council President Brian Lynch. Also present were: Mayor Vic Marotta, and Elke Yetter, CFO.
Council President Lynch asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comment.
Motion: Patrick Rizzuto
Second: Dan Kadish
All members present were in favor.
Gary Martinsen, Vernon resident, requested that these work sessions be recorded by SECTV because they are very important and then he wouldn’t have to lug around his recording equipment.
Closed to Public Comments
Seeing no one else from the public wishing to speak, Council President Lynch asked for a motion to close the public comment portion of the meeting.
Motion: Daniel Kadish
Second: Patrick Rizzuto
All members present were in favor.
Discussion on the 2014 Municipal Operating Budget
Assessment of Taxes—Lynne Schweighardt
Council President Lynch questioned materials and supplies that went up dramatically in 2013, Ms. Schweighardt explained that they are all statutory items such as post cards, on-line forms, binders and postage costs which have risen since last year. Council President Lynch stated there is going to be a total revamping of the Tax Maps. Lynne Schweighardt noted that the software maintenance went down a bit because she was able to re-negotiate with Vital to reduce the amount. Council Member Kadish said there were a few positions open and asked if she had enough help in her office. Ms. Schweighardt stated that she has an excellent staff, but could always use more help, Ms. Schweighardt said the people in her department are wonderful, with 2 full timers, besides herself, and a floater. Mayor Marotta added that the floater’s salary comes out of the Administrative line item.
Collection of Taxes—Ann Izzo
Council President Lynch questioned the increase in education and seminars. Ms. Izzo stated it covers everyone in the office, and the credits go towards the collector’s license. Council President Lynch questioned the computer service line item—$20,000.00 was budgeted in 2013 and only $12,300.00 was used. Ms. Izzo explained that Vital has kept their prices current with us and have not increased them, but she expects a small increase this year as they have been revising their program to make it more state of the art. Council Member Rizzuto questioned the big increase in recorded tax sales. Ms. Izzo advised that this related to the MUA and they did not know how many certificates they would need to record. Council Member Murphy questioned if there was an increase in the tax clerks because of the MUA and Ms. Izzo advised that a new person was recently hired in the office to offset the work of the MUA. Mr. Marotta advised that at this point in the budget process it would be difficult to put a definitive number on it, but that the MUA would pay for the increased cost of relative recorded tax sales including the $45,000.00 for the new employee.
Land Use—Kim Decker
Council President Lynch questioned the increase in education and seminars. Mayor Marotta explained that in 2012 Kim completed her courses and became a Registered Land Use Administrator. Mayor Marotta further explained that at the last meeting we were made aware of the current Zoning Officer, Craig Roland, retiring this year. After some discussion, Kim was willing to take the course to gain a Zoning Officer’s license, but not to go out on site. However, it would give us flexibility for Kim to be an in-house source for residents’ questions and we would have a licensed zoning officer until Craig is replaced and that is what is generating the increase.
The Council President asked if $1,500.00 is enough for materials and supplies. Ms. Decker answered that they could get by on that amount.
Council President Lynch also questioned if there were any long-range plans for updating the software in the Land Use Board. Ms. Decker replied that the GIS update for Spatial Data needs to be updated, which they are working on. Council Member Kadish questioned why this would not be considered a capital item and Ms. Yetter explained that it is updating software but not the entire program.
Municipal Court—Donna Zuidema
Council President Lynch stated this budget looks self-explanatory.
Council Member Kadish questioned the salary of the security officer. Ms. Zuidema advised that it is $20.00 per hour, and Mr. Lynch added that he carries a gun.
Ms. Zuidema stated her materials and supplies had a $500.00 reduction, adding that her office is very frugal.
Council Member Kadish questioned longevity in 2010 - 2011 that was taken away. Ms. Zuidema explained that her former Deputy contractually had received longevity; and when this person retired, the new person did not receive longevity.
Department of Public Works—Dave Pullis and Jen Ruess
Council President Lynch had concerns about the road materials, salt and grit, as the state had glommed-up a supply for the Super Bowl and made it less accessible for the communities. Dave Pullis stated that information came straight from International Salt, however, Mr. Pullis said we have been getting material in so we are okay right now. Council Member Rizzuto congratulated them for doing more with less, and all the other departments also. Mr. Lynch said they will be discussing more with the road department when it comes to the capital budget.
A discussion ensued regarding the street sweeper costs and the possibility of shared services for street sweepers.
Mayor Marotta discussed salary and wages decreasing because of retirements, and also a debit of $60,000.00 because of the two road department employees who do work for the MUA. It was hoped that we can earn enough from shared services to add another employee in the future, as the DPW is undermanned.
Council President Lynch stated it is comforting to know the roads are being plowed—especially Canistear Road—and further stated that Dunkin Donuts should think about putting a sub-station up on the mountain for the plowing crew. Mr. Lynch thanked Dave and Jen for all they do with the road department.
Council Member Wetzel stated that there have been a lot of positive comments regarding the recycling center. Mr. Pullis reported that we made over $100,000.00 in 2013. Mayor Marotta stated that beyond the fact that you raised that kind of money, he hears constantly how pleased the residents are with the way they are being treated by the people who work at the recycling center, that they are polite and helpful, they help the senior citizens unload and put things where they belong and that is a dynamic improvement over what we had when we were sub-contracting this work out. The Mayor further stated it is no wonder that in 2012 Vernon Township was recognized as the premier recycling program in the state.
Council Member Kadish questioned the deer carcass removal fee. Dave Pullis explained that Space Farms picks up the carcasses and charges $31.00 each and that the service is contracted utilizing the Morris County Co-op.
Council President Lynch stated the next budget work session would include the Fire Departments with Emergency Services, Recreation Department, Administration, Animal Control and Municipal Clerk. The Mayor was asked to notify those departments, and the date would tentatively be January 23rd, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. The Deputy Clerk was to check the court room calendar to make sure the room was available and notify the Council by email. Mr. Lynch stated that tax rate, shared services and debt service will be discussed that evening as well.
Council President Lynch thanked everyone for coming out tonight.
Council Member Patrick Rizzuto moved to adjourn this Work Session of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon. Council Member Dick Wetzel made the second; all were in agreement. The work session was adjourned at 7:04 p.m.
Deputy Municipal Clerk
Minutes approved: January 27, 2014