502 Millbrook Avenue, Randolph, NJ 07869-3799
Tel: 973.989.7100Fax: 973.989.7076

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

Minutes: April 2, 2007

A special work session of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Mayor Obremski. This meeting is held pursuant to the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. Adequate notice of the meeting has been provided by posting written notice of the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of the meeting in Randolph Township. This notice was posted on the Bulletin Board within Town Hall, it was filed with the Township Clerk, and it was provided to those persons or entities requesting notification. Notice was also provided to the Morris County Daily Record on March 30, 2007, by emailing them this special meeting notice approved by the Council on March 29, 2007. The special meeting notice, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Morris County Daily Record, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph, on April 1, 2007.

PRESENT:
Councilman Algeier
Councilman Metz
Councilman Napoliello
Councilwoman Price
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Mayor Obremski

ABSENT: Councilman Alpert

Also present: Township Manager John Lovell

Mayor Obremski led the Pledge of Allegiance.

OPEN TO PUBLIC

Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.

COUNCIL AND MANAGER REPORTS

Manager Lovell reported that one of our volunteer firemen was arrested on charges of theft of equipment. Part of the arrest deals with his position in his employment, however the other part deals with two radios from one of the fire companies that had been missing. He also reported a confirmed case of rabies in the Gristmill area. He will be posting notices on the trails, placing a warning on the website, and posting a press release to alert the residents. The Manager has been informed of some unexpected problems arising from the Shongum Lake dam project. He has asked for detailed information and will inform the Council when he gets that information.

2007 MUNICIPAL BUDGET DISCUSSION

Manager Lovell noted that he was asked to devise some options and to rank those options for reducing the tax impact from three cents to two cents. He asked the Council to keep in mind the following items that impact the budget into the future:

  • Maintenance of the library will continue to grow as it is tied into the equalized value and is mandated. In the last several years it has been averaging 11 percent, which is a sizable amount of money invested in the library each year.
  • Pensions for police (PFRS) and all other employees (PERS) will increase next year.
  • Health insurance premiums will continue to rise.
  • Tax appeals looming this year will drain our reserves this year and into next year.
  • The 2008 cap on local property taxes is an unknown entity at this point, and the Manager is concerned that this will shake Randolph’s stability in the long term.

Following are the first tier amendments (totaling $100,000.00) outlined by the Manager:

  • Placing $20,000.00 into Legal O.E. to cover a possible personnel issue
  • Removing $35,000.00 as a first tier amendment which would take away one police vehicle and one administrative vehicle
  • Removing $42,250.00 from the snow removal salary and wage operating expenditures
  • Removing $42,250.00 from the surplus fund

For second tier amendments (totaling an additional $100,000.00), he would recommend:

  • Removing money provided for software to create a paperless council
  • Removing $10,000.00 for police locker room upgrades
  • Removing money for salt storage doors, although this will need to be implemented in the next year to comply with stormwater regulations
  • Removing $3,900.00 for a field liner for Recreation
  • Remove an additional $53,100.00 from snow removal

For third tier amendments, the Manager removed $90,000.00 from the reserve to bring the entire amount to $290,000.00, which is the equivalent of a one penny reduction in the proposed budget.

Councilman Napoliello asked about the subgun replacement for the police.

Manager Lovell responded that the guns are 14 years old, they run the risk of malfunction, and should be replaced in order to keep our officers well-equipped should they ever be in a situation and faced with similar weaponry. There is a total of six guns, and they will be replaced three at a time.

Councilman Algeier asked what a cut of $100,000.00 represents to the taxpayer.

Manager Lovell responded that would equal approximately 1/3 of a penny.

Councilman Algeier noted that a $300,000.00 reduction would amount to a full penny. As the budget is presented, it would cost the taxpayers about $99.00, and a penny cut would bring the amount to $66.00.

Councilman Napoliello expressed hope that the budget could be cut by a penny, and asked if the following questions:

  • Could the money for the Doby Road Trail Bridge be used somewhere else? (There is no impact to the taxpayer for this item since that amount comes from two sources, one of which is developer set asides for trail construction, and the other from the Parks Trust account.)
  • For sidewalks, will $80,000.00 be enough to finish the project? (The cost for the remaining project will be handled as a special assessment in that area.)
  • How important is the salt storage door? (That has already been cut for this year and must be done next year to comply with stormwater regulations.)
  • Why is $12,000.00 budgeted for a court interpreter when only $7,514.00 was spent last year? (The amount varies from year to year depending on need, and interpreters must be available for non-English speaking clients, however court fines and fees pay for the court operation.)
  • The combination of tier one and tier two snow removal amounts adds up to $100,000.00? (Yes.)
  • Can $5,000.00 be taken from health programs? ($5,000.00 has already been taken from them.)
  • Have we ever used surplus in the last ten years? (The Manager referred him to page 6 for a detailed account of the surplus and provided a summary on the surplus account.)

Councilwoman Price asked what the impact would be of a $25,000.00 reduction in the reserve for uncollected taxes.

Manager Lovell stressed that tax appeals will likely be a huge drain on that account this year and money should be left in place to handle the costs.

Councilman Metz asked where the amounts for library maintenance, police pension, and health insurance can be found in the budget.

Manager Lovell responded that maintenance of the library is in community programming, the police pension is found under statutory charges, and health insurance is in liability and group insurance.

Councilman Metz also asked about the refund from Gary Grey for a settlement reached with them.

Manager Lovell explained that the refund will not be in a lump sum. The agreement reached on September 1, 2006, allowed us to stop paying them through January 2007. Beginning in February 2007, we would start paying them again and receive $3,000.00 a month until the amount of $75,000.00 was reached.

Councilman Metz expressed concern about the impending tax percentage limits from the state.

Councilman Algeier echoed his concern and noted that the limits may mean that other capital projects will be delayed in the future. He also noted that another revaluation looms in the near future, as well as some additional tax appeals. He would be hesitant to cut too much out of the budget in hopes of avoiding a tax spike in the future.

Councilman Napoliello pointed out that a tax increase of $99.00 gets added to the Board of Education increase of $189.00, bringing the total to $288.00. He is not comfortable asking the residents to pay that much.

Councilman Algeier stated that he would also love to not raise taxes, however it is the responsibility of the Council to be fiscally responsible.

Deputy Mayor Mitsch noted that the largest line items are things out of the Council’s control, such as pensions, health insurance, tax appeals, and the library appropriation. She prefers to be conservative and approve the budget as proposed.

Mayor Obremski asked if the money appropriated for the library can be used for capital expenditures.

Manager Lovell responded that it could be. The Library Director has been reserving the money in the bank and will be using it to make some needed alterations and upgrades at the library.

Councilman Metz made a motion to accept the budget as presented. Deputy Mayor Mitsch seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:

AYES:
Councilman Algeier
Councilman Metz
Councilman Napoliello (reluctantly)
Councilwoman Price
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Mayor Obremski

NAYS: None

ABSENT: Councilman Alpert

Councilman Algeier stated that to some homeowners, a $30.00 savings on their tax bill is significant and he empathizes with those homeowners and seniors, however the Council has to keep in mind the fiscal responsibility of the whole community.

Manager Lovell noted that it is very expensive to dig yourself out of a hole if the budget falls short.

Councilman Metz recommended considering possible savings for next year by incorporating shared services with other entities, such as the Board of Education.

OPEN TO PUBLIC

Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.

COUNCIL AND MANAGER COMMENTS

There were no council or manager comments.

ADJOURNMENT

Mayor Obremski thanked everyone for participating in such a productive meeting and adjourned the meeting at 8:30 p.m.

Donna Marie Luciani
Township Clerk