All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 11, 2012
A Special Meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 8:30 a.m. by Mayor Guadagno. 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 Randolph Reporter on January 11, 2012 by e-mailing them the Special Meeting Notice. The Special Meeting Notice, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Randolph Reporter, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph, on January 19, 2012.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Also Present: Township Manager John Lovell
Mayor Guadagno led the Pledge of Allegiance.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
Mayor Guadagno thanked Michael Soccio, the Finance Director, and Chief Robert Mason for being in attendance.
Mayor Guadagno also thanked Councilman Obremski for following up with the YMCA regarding a JCP&L issue.
2012 BUDGET—MANAGER’S OVERVIEW
Manager Lovell’s presented the following overview for the 2012 Budget:
“The Randolph Township municipal organization strives to make the Township of Randolph the best it can be by providing effective governance, enhanced customer services, and excellent community facilities.”
We are guided in our decisions by this mission statement.
The draft budget presented to you is incomplete as towns across New Jersey await 2012 State revenue numbers. The sense amongst local governing officials is that State revenues will most likely remain stable and possibly increase. For purposes of developing Randolph’s draft budget, an assumption of stability (no growth) was employed.
The draft budget requires adjustments of $224,713 in order to balance with revenue assumptions. Mike Soccio and I will address these modifications for the next worksession. The budget is slightly over the 2% levy cap and, again, adjustments will be made to achieve this threshold number. From my perspective, no major budget or service reductions are required to bring the document into balance and compliance.
Over the last three years, Randolph’s municipal government has undergone a transformation resulting from significant losses in State revenues, tax appeal settlements, and declines in a number of miscellaneous revenue categories.
The Township has shed full-time positions throughout the organization and has shifted its anticipation of revenue earnings to more conservative levels. The net effect of these actions is that the municipality, at the end of 2011, experienced an uptick in surplus for the first time in several years.
Randolph enters the 2012 year in a stronger fiscal position as a result of conservative principals guiding budget decisions over a period of years. It is imperative that the conservative policies governing Randolph’s budget process continue into this year’s review and decisions.
REVIEW AND ADOPTION SCHEDULE
The Township Council has created the following schedule in order to complete the budget review:
8:30 a.m. Saturday—February 11
8:30 a.m. Saturday—February 25
8:30 a.m. Saturday—March 3
The State has established the below calendar for action on the municipal budget:
State Introduction—March 9
State Adoption—April 20
Randolph’s legislative calendar falls behind the State introduction date by several days, but is timely with regards to the budget hearing and adoption:
Randolph Introduction—March 15
Randolph Adoption—April 19
TAX APPEALS CONTINUE
The Randolph Council has supported past recommendations to set aside funds against anticipated tax losses. Randolph has also embraced the concept of carrying a larger reserve for uncollected taxes to buffer the town against anticipated tax appeal decisions impacting the current year’s rate of collections. The cumulative impact of these “conservative” fiscal practices has protected Randolph from a spike in the tax rate and has in 2012 restored stability to the town’s financial standing.
A number of commercial tax appeals are pending in the State Tax Court. The Township is also seeing a wave of apartment complex owners filing appeals with the State Tax Court following a several year respite since the last round of settlements. Many of the residential appeals filed in 2010 have been settled. Typically, the successful appeals reflect housing constructed and assessed at the height of the housing market.
A determination as to whether or not the real estate market is reacting to a sustained turn around remains elusive. Outward appearances suggest that the bottom has been reached. The spring real estate market will be monitored to determine the validity of this observation and, hopefully, a sustainable growth trend will fall into place for property values. In any event, commercial tax appeals remain as a significant liability and I would anticipate that homeowners will continue to file appeals during 2012.
The municipal government collects taxes for town, county, and school uses. Accordingly, when a tax refund occurs, it is based upon the total tax bill as opposed to just the municipal share. Additionally, state appeals tend to be spread over several tax years (3 to 4 years) compounding the fiscal loss when either a settlement or decision of the tax court is reached. Tax refunds are split with current year taxes cancelled against the Reserve for Uncollected taxes. The prior year tax refunds are funded through surplus set aside by the Chief Financial Officer for this purpose.
At the beginning of the 2011 year, the Township maintained a Reserve for Tax Settlements in the amount of $422,138.00. Randolph paid out $142,627.00 for settlements during 2011. An additional $150,000.00 was added from 2011 surplus restoring the balance in the Reserve for Tax settlements to $429,511.00. This amount is established to cover tax reimbursements for all tax years prior to 2012. The Reserve for Uncollected Taxes has been calculated by Mr. Soccio to address tax adjustments for the 2012 tax year. An increase of $236,712 (8.52% increase) in the Reserve is proposed in the 2012 draft budget, again based upon the analysis of pending tax appeals and the anticipation of the collection rate throughout the year.
The below listed appropriations are having a profound impact on the 2012 budget year:
- Group Health Insurance and Workers Compensation $358,321
- Debt Service $53,098
- Capital Improvement $389,200
- Reserve for Uncollected Taxes $236,712
Council members will recall that in 2011 a funding authorization was approved in anticipation of a significant bubble in staff retirements. The Township has, for a number of years, funded retirement benefits through a $125,000 appropriation under the budget item entitled “Accumulated Leave.” That budget has been reduced to zero for 2012 and, in turn, the $125,000 appropriation now appears under the account “Deferred Charges” in order to pay down the approved authorization.
The 2012 draft budget is increasing by $937,201 or 3.48%. The four major appropriation increases referenced above reflect an increase of $1,037,331. The total draft budget appropriation stands at $27,836,498, which does not include water and sewer.
REVENUE IN SUPPORT OF 2012 BUDGET
In general terms, most all revenue categories met expectations in 2011. The Township adjustment to the 2011 Reserve for Uncollected taxes combined with slight upswing in the rate of collections resulted in an increase in end of year surplus.
The below chart tracks revenues as a percentage of the budget for comparison purposes over five years.
|Local Fees, Fines & Interest||14.19%||13.82%||13.95%||12.33%||11.82%|
2012 MUNICIPAL TAX
The Proposed Municipal Tax rate has been set at 0.601 representing an increase of two cents over the rate for 2011. The rate increase reflects $67.60 on the average assessed value of $338,000 (market value of $513,755 employing the ratio of 65.79%)
As stated earlier in this memorandum, the draft budget must be brought into balance requiring an adjustment of $224,713. We await the state aid numbers from Trenton, which will hopefully chip away at the adjustment. Michael Soccio and I are confident that we will achieve the required adjustment and a memorandum outlining all revisions will be distributed at the next budget worksession.
The services and facilities provided and maintained through the budget are vital to Randolph’s good health. Some activities are more critical than others, and while I believe in the recommendations set forth in this memorandum and draft budget, I anticipate and respect Council concerns that may vary from my perspective.
The Township maintains independent financial records for the Water Fund and the Sewer Fund. Both functions are supported by customer billings and do not require property tax revenues to meet financial obligations.
Each year, I have requested Council members to be guided by the following questions, which I embrace in making my budget recommendations:
1) Will this action compound (increase) Randolph’s budget challenges in 2013?
2) How does the value of the reduction compare with the expectations placed on the Township by the public?
3) If this expenditure is deferred for a year, can and will the organization catch up in the future?
4) Will this decision make Randolph a stronger community five years from now?
In closing, it is important for to recognize that the budget is a policy document of the Council. In its current form, the draft budget reflects the recommendations of the Manager and his staff, not the Township Council.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked if the Township uses an income approach on all commercial properties. Manager Lovell responded that that is correct and that the Township goes through a process where the building is assessed on what the Township believes the value of the building is and there is a negotiation process where you share lease information and get a sense as to the true value.
Mayor Guadagno asked Manager Lovell to explain the increase in health insurance premiums. Manager Lovell stated that the industry as a whole is going up. Last year the Township received about a 2% increase and this year the Health Fund, for the first time ever, Aetna had a higher increase over United Health Care. The reason for that was due to a number of catastrophic illnesses that drove the cost higher.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked if that increase was outside the Levy Cap.
Finance Officer Soccio responded no and that there is a calculation of the Levy Cap and the $271,000 is excluded from the Levy Cap, which is not the whole amount.
Councilwoman Veech asked why that was and Finance Director Soccio stated that the State sets a limit of 4% over the State Health Benefits. The full increase is not excluded from the Cap.
Manager Lovell explained that the reason there was partial exclusion was the fact that there was a realization on the part of the State that health care is still climbing at a very high rate.
Mayor Guadagno stated that he is happy to see the surplus increasing.
Chief Mason listed some of the accomplishments that the Police Department achieved in 2011:
- Transitioned to the Morris County Communications Center
- Completed a number of security upgrades within the Police Department including a safe room in the Police lobby
- Switching to the Morris County Communication Center will allow for long term infrastructure savings
- Reduce the size of the Department from 37 Officers to 33 Officers due to retirements
- The Department civilianized two positions within the Department: IT Training Officer and the Records Supervisor
- With reduced manpower, the Department was able to operate below the budgeted overtime allotment for the third straight year
- Savings in salary and wage budget attributed to retirements
- Logged over 13,000 hours in deploying decoy cars to help with traffic issues
- Assigned Officer on a daily basis to the Sussex Turnpike Project with a significant saving to the Township
- Conducted 73 Internal Affairs cases compared to 100 cases in 2010 and of those 73 cases 22 cases were citizen complaints and 51 cases originated from within the Department
Chief Mason stated that the Police Department budget reflects just less than a 1% increase year over year. The Communications line item was reduced by 23% mainly because the radio tie lines, which were needed when the Department had dispatch services, were eliminated. The computer line item was also reduced by approximately 29% and that is because of the elimination of a program called Info-Cop. The County offered a similar program called X-Mobile with the cost to the Township being $0. The Police Department is currently involved in testing a records management program at the County which should show a significant savings for this year into the following year if it is determined that the program can meet the Department’s needs.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked for confirmation that there are currently thirty-five people performing functions within the Police Department, two of the thirty-five are not sworn Officers, compared to thirty-seven sworn officers a year ago that were performing functions within the Department.
Chief Mason agreed with Deputy Mayor MacArthur’s statement.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur expressed to the Chief that he very much appreciates the safety of the Township and feels that the residents do as well.
WHEREAS, Section 8 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 (N.J.S.A. 10:4-12) permits the exclusion of the public from a meeting under certain circumstances; and
WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Randolph, in the County of Morris, and State of New Jersey, as follows:
1. The public shall be excluded from the following portion of the meeting.
2. The general nature of the subject matter to be discussed is as follows:
a. Police Personnel and Police Operations
3. As nearly as now can be ascertained, the matter or matters to be discussed at this time will be disclosed to the public at such time and under such circumstances as are prescribed by law.
4. At the conclusion of the closed Executive Session, the Council may reconvene in public session for the purpose of taking formal action on matters discussed in closed session or on any other matter as permitted by law.
Councilman Napoliello made a motion to go into Executive Session at 9:09 a.m. Councilwoman Veech seconded the motion and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Councilwoman Veech made a motion to come out of Executive Session at 10:42 a.m. Deputy Mayor MacArthur seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Manager Lovell stated that the review of the tax appeals listed under the Executive Session would be carried to the February 16, 2012 Council Meeting.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Manager Lovell expressed to the Council that the Capital Budget is still going through some amendments as projects are reviewed.
Manager Lovell reviewed the following Capital Projects with the Council:
Randolph Park (Beach):
Manager Lovell stated that there were a number of beach closings last year which the Township originally contributed to the geese population. Health Officer Mark Caputo monitored the testing of the water and was able to determine that when the beach was shutdown the test results were good but when the beach re-opened the test results became problematic. After the beach season ended the Health Officer Caputo continued testing, the numbers remained low, and the geese population remained the same. It was concluded that the septic system that was built in 1985 at Randolph Beach was the problem. Manager Lovell explained to the Council the septic system needs to be replaced and the cost would be approximately $50,000 which will need to be added to the Capital Budget. Mr. Paul Ferriero, the Township Consulting Engineer, has begun the permitting process with the State in order to receive our NJDPES Permit. Manager Lovell will be before the Council at the next budget meeting with the Capital Improvements for Parks and Recreation with the addition of the Randolph Beach septic system replacement. Manger Lovell would like to have the septic system replaced in time for the Memorial Day Weekend beach opening.
Library and Community Center:
The Library and Community Center improvements are progressing nicely. The dome for the Community Center should be going on next week. The Township will be investing in an emergency generator that will service both buildings. New furnishing shall be bought and several upgrades to the insides will be done as well as the outside electronic sign.
The Council will need to amend the Library and Community Center Bond Ordinance No. 2-10 to include the VFW Improvements in order to provide the necessary upgrades:
- Make the bathrooms ADA compliant and install an outside chair lift into the building (the Township also applied for a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $50,000)
- Replace the windows
- Replace the upstairs ceiling
- Install an emergency natural gas generator
- Replace the front facade of the building
- Replace the septic system
The total investment in the project will be approximately a net cost of $120,000 against the bond ordinance which would give the building a new inside and nice looking outside for several years.
Manager Lovell stated that the VFW Building is being used for Rompers and other Recreation programs.
Councilwoman Veech asked if it was possible for the Library to hold programs at the VFW as well. Manager Lovell stated that the Library likes to do its programming at the Library because it is a way of drawing the residents into the Library but the VFW, with the proposed improvements, can become an annex building that could absolutely serve the Library for some programming.
Councilwoman Mitsch remarked that the VFW Building will be one of the buildings used as a warming shelter in the event a catastrophe.
John Lovell stated that the auditor was in to an analysis of the Library budget looking forward. The Library Director, Anita Freeman, is currently reviewing the audit and making revisions. Once the revisions are complete Manager Lovell will distribute the information.
Deputy MacArthur stated that the Council should see the numbers prior to the Library Board coming before them presenting their case.
Manager Lovell discussed the equipment lists generated by the Public Works and Parks/Recreation departments. Manager Lovell stated he challenged the issue of the Senior Bus. The Recreation Department went back and reviewed their rider ship and how it was distributed and they confirmed that a van would be suitable. Manager Lovell stated that he also questioned the Public Works budget for a front end loader because a front end loader was just rebuilt and the other one is relatively new. It was agreed that the new front end loader would be taken off the list and be reinserted several years into the future.
Manager Lovell stated that he would like to get moving on the Capital Bond Ordinances for the road overlay and reconstruction program in order to get a late Spring start versus a September start.
Deputy MacArthur stated that last year the Council questioned that fact that a good deal of the road overlay program was bonded instead of cash and it was decided to move more of the program to cash. This year the program is completely cash with no bonding. Deputy MacArthur explained that he senses that there may be a number of roads in Town that are not great shape. Deputy MacArthur explained that he was the Council Member who wanted the program to be more cash based then bonds but wasn’t necessarily of the opinion that it had to be zero bond. He asked the Council to consider adding another $200,000 to $300,000 on the bond side and take a more aggressive approach in improving our roads in Town.
Manager Lovell stated that he was not opposed to that and showed the Council in the proposed Budget how the number break out and explained to the Council that by adding $200,000 to $300,000 it could substantially move the Township forward by getting into other roads that we consider to be failing at this time.
Deputy MacArthur said that he would be in favor of that.
Manager Lovell reminded the Council that some of the roads that are traveled in the Township and are in need of repair are County roads.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur suggested that instead of starting with a number start with the roads that are in poor condition and let us see what it would cost to get to the roads that are in really bad shape.
Councilwoman Mitsch asked Manager Lovell how many miles of roads would be resurfaced with this year’s current proposed Budget. Manager Lovell responded approximately 4 miles with Pleasant Hill Road.
Mayor Guadagno commented that he does not think the Township should create a bond issue to resurface more roads. The Township was able to move the overlay program into cash and he would like the program to remain that way. The Township could place more cash into the program every year in order to meet the resurfacing needs.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked if there is any support for some bonded road overlay.
Councilman Obremski stated that until such time that interest rates may get cost prohibited, he would support adding more dollars to the road overlay program.
Councilman Loveys would like to see more information from the Director of Public Works, Tom Springs, in terms of where we are with the condition of the roads.
Councilman Loveys would not be opposed to the bonding if there is a need but he would like to see the data first.
Mayor Guadagno and Councilman Napoliello agreed with Councilman Loveys’ statement.
Councilwoman Veech asked how the Township gets the County to repair their roads. Manager Lovell answered that the person to reach out to at the County would be Gene Feyl. He sits on the State Transportation Committee and is very approachable. Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked Manager Lovell to then also ask Public Works Director Springs to identify the worst of the County roads as well as Randolph roads. Manager Lovell stated that he will first reach out to the County Engineering Department regarding their road overlay program.
Councilwoman Mitsch noted that the entire length of Pierson Hill Road was on the list to be resurfaced but questioned if the road should be paved this year with the Ridge at Randolph using heavy equipment on that road during construction. Manager Lovell believes that the Township will be receiving monies from Toll Brothers for the trenching of that road but there will be heavy equipment using Pierson Hill Road. Councilwoman Mitsch would hate to see Pierson Hill Road resurfaced this year and then next year it is in poor condition again because of the construction equipment traveling on that road. Manager Lovell agreed with Councilwoman Mitsch’s statement.
Councilwoman Mitsch asked Finance Director Soccio that if the Township was to bond part of the overlay program, what the anticipated time frame would be for paying the debt off. Finance Director Soccio stated that his projections are usually ten years but he believes he has been able to pay down the debt for the last road overlay bonds in an earlier time frame, depending on the useful life, and he would continue that same process.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur asked Finance Director Soccio to provide him with the bond to cash ratio for the 2011 road overlay program.
Councilman Loveys asked Manager Lovell if all storm drain work is in addition to the overlay program. Manager Lovell confirmed that storm drains will be examined and either repaired and/or brought into the current Storm Water Management standards.
Councilwoman Veech confirmed with Manager Lovell that Public Works Director Springs will be giving the Council a list of Township and County roads that should be resurfaced. Manager Lovell will have Public Works Director Springs put together a list of Township roads in need of resurfacing and he will reach out to the Morris County Engineer for analysis of the County roads located in Randolph.
Manager Lovell told the Council that at this time there are two grant applications pending with New Jersey Department of Transportation Discretionary Aid for Quaker Church Road and
Franklin Road. The roads only get done if the grant applications are approved. The Township is waiting to get information back from the State on the applications.
Storm Water Outfall:
Manager Lovell stated that the Township will continue to chip away at improvements. The Township contracts out for these improvements to the detention basins.
Water System Projects:
The Water Department will replace large water meters because the larger meters typically run slow after five to six years which means that water is not being billed properly for that property. A program needs to be in place to change out meets. Manager Lovell directed the Water Department to put together a five year program to get the meters changed out.
The Township owns the water line entering the County College of Morris (CCM) and the distribution system is theirs and the Township has water meters installed throughout the campus buildings. There was a major water main break on CCM’s distribution system last quarter. While CCM responded to our request to repair the line, they were not in a rush and a great deal of water was lost. The Water Department will install a meter pit at the entrance of CCM to account and bill for all water entering the campus.
The line item in the Budget is for the Butterworth Interceptor is for the second phase of the project which goes right down Sussex Turnpike.
Infiltration/ Inflow Repairs (Sanitary Sewer):
The sewer system is getting older and as they get older they begin to degrade. What typically happens is that you get separations on sewer pipes and then there is ground water flowing into the system. Groundwater that flows into the system from major rainstorms gets to the treatment plants were it is metered and we pay for the treatment of the groundwater. The goal is to make sure the system is sealed. For the next two years the Township would like to do in-camera review to see what repairs need to be made to the system.
Animal Control Facility:
The plan is to be under construction the latter part of the year. The diversion application is moving forward and will happen this.
The Township would like to upgrade the following:
- Service contract for a provider for a web-based system for council meetings
- New equipment for the Council/Department Heads
- Update computers throughout the building
- Swim Team Dock Replacement
- New Septic
- Baseball Field Backstop Replacement and Retaining Wall Replacement
- Expand and Pave Lower Preserve Lot
- Light Re-Lamp and Repair Tennis Courts
- Basketball Resurfacing—Building 4 and Theater
- Replacement of Backstops Mesh
- Light Re-Lamping Ballfields
- Color Coating Hockey Rink and Repair
General Trail Improvements and Bridge Improvements
Various Parks and DPW Equipment/Vehicles
Mayor Guadagno asked Manager Lovell to explain the use of the Sewer Jet Truck. Manager Lovell stated that the jet truck is used to not only clear clogs within the sewer mains but to also provide ongoing maintenance to the sewer system. The Township currently rents/borrows this item with a typical delay in getting the equipment. This item is listed in the 2013 Capital Improvement Program.
Municipal Building Future Repairs:
- Upgrade the air circulation system
- Boilers will need to be replaced
Manager Lovell ended the Capital Improvement presentation to the Council.
Mayor Guadagno suggested that the Township develop rules and regulations pertaining to security cameras for certain commercial buildings. Manager Lovell will discuss the issue with Attorney Buzak.
Councilwoman Veech made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:50 a.m. Deputy Mayor MacArthur seconded the motion.
Deputy Mayor MacArthur
Donna Marie Luciani