All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 22, 2007
A work session of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 6:30 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 February 16, 2007, by emailing them the special meeting notice approved by the Council on February 15, 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 February 19, 2007.
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Also present: Township Manager John Lovell and Township Attorney Edward Buzak
Mayor Obremski led the Pledge of Allegiance.
COUNCIL AND MANAGER REPORTS
Councilman Metz reported that the Traffic Advisory Committee put together a summary for a teen driving safety program to be presented at the high school.
Councilman Algeier nominated Gene Stracco to fill a vacancy on the Board of Adjustment as Alternate #2, with the current Alternate #2 moving to the Alternate #1 position.
Councilman Napoliello seconded the nomination and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Councilman Napoliello attended a Highlands Council meeting and noted that the comment period has been extended to April 2. The Highlands Council is looking for comments from municipalities so they can amend their map accordingly.
Manager Lovell interjected that he and Darren Carney will be critiquing the map and preparing comments which he will present to the Council for approval. He believes Randolph should weigh in with their criticisms.
Councilwoman Price stated that the Parade Committee is kicking off their initiatives for the 2007 parade which will be held on June 30. There was discussion about honoring the 75th anniversary of the fire department during the parade.
Mayor Obremski nominated Ira Bennett to fill a vacancy on the Landmarks Committee as Alternate #3. Councilman Napoliello seconded the nomination, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Mayor Obremski stated that he will be attending the School Board meeting along with Sgt. Yarzab to discuss teen driving initiatives. The Mayor also attended a panel along with Mayor Chedwiggin and Mayor Dodd where discussion took place regarding economic development in the respective towns.
Mayor Obremski nominated the following to serve as members of the newly created Community Services Advisory Committee:
- Jim Corbett, Judith Stewart, and Peggy DePaolo for three year terms
- Sunita Mathur, Thelma Sellman, and Dolores Madison for two year terms
- Joseph Dolan, Doris Dolan, and Barbara Anderson for one year terms
- Teresa Bohm as an Alternate Member for a three year term
- Alternate #2 is currently vacant for a two year term
- Catherine Custer as Honorary Member
Deputy Mayor Mitsch nominated Chelsea Obremski and Rushabh Doshi to serve as Student Members to the Community Services Advisory Committee with terms to expire on June 30, 2007.
Councilman Metz seconded the nominations and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Manager Lovell reported that a bond sale took place on February 13 and the notes will expire on August 21, 2007. Concerning the proposed pool, Manager Lovell will be meeting with the Bond Counsel to discuss bond life and debt, while Mr. Van Brunt is building a building an operating budget. Although the Manager does not believe that the pool will be constructed and ready to open until October of 2008, he plans to get the process in place this spring so as to move the pool along should the Council decide they want to move in that direction.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Judith Stewart, 114 Everdale Road, asked if the 11 percent change to the library budget represented a change in the equalized assessed value in Randolph.
Manager Lovell responded that the 11 percent change did reflect a change in the equalized assessed value in town and noted that there has been a precipitous drop in the ratio.
Mrs. Stewart stated that she doesn’t believe state tax reform is needed for municipal purposes. She would like to keep the government as local as possible and believes that local taxpayers should bear the burden for the services they demand from local government.
Councilman Metz questioned the Manager on the issue of the pool and whether or not long term bond rates would be as favorable a year from now.
Manager Lovell responded that Randolph can sell bonds on this project right after the Council adopts a bond ordinance and he will be seeking advice from the Bond Counsel as to when to sell bonds and for how long. The Manager invited Councilman Metz to sit in on his meetings with Bond Counsel.
Councilman Napoliello asked if there were any way to move the pool along more quickly to ensure a 2008 season.
Manager Lovell responded that he doesn’t believe it would be possible. The Manager worked a timeline backwards on the assumption that everything on the project moved smoothly, and in order to open for the 2008 season they would have to gain three months, which is unlikely.
2007 BUDGET PRESENTATION/WORKSHOP
Manager Lovell noted that the budget is a no-frills document containing no surprises. Following are aspects of the budget he touched upon during his presentation:
- Appropriations for the municipal portion of the budget including reserve for uncollected taxes are projected to increase by 4.46 percent. The Manager separated the municipal portion from the school and county portion for reserve for uncollected taxes.
- Five areas of the budget that drive the growth of appropriations are maintenance of the library, police pension, health insurance, debt service, and the municipal portion of the reserve for uncollected taxes.
- The referendum on the proposed new library failed, and therefore determinations for the future need to be considered.
- The municipal pool is listed in the capital improvement program for 2007, although this does not put the pool into play. That will come to be by the adoption of an ordinance.
- More money is being spent on road overlays than ever before due to the increase in the cost of asphalt, however fewer miles are being overlaid. The Manager is concerned that this will present a problem for future Councils as more roads begin to see deterioration.
- Possible obligation of Echo Lane repair since the discovery of a file containing memorandums of understanding between the town and property owners. The Manager will ask the Township Attorney for an opinion.
- EA Porter site will most likely be foreclosed on this year and this presents the town with a couple of options, either to sell it as an asset or use it for possible COAH housing.
- Possible shared services with Morris County as well as Roxbury and the Randolph Board of Education.
- The reserve for uncollected taxes. Several large tax appeals are looming this year, and it the Manager’s and Finance Director’s recommendation that Council increase the spread in the reserve for uncollected taxes to 2 percent to cover projected shortfalls. Two other options exist with regard to the reserve, either to do nothing and set the reserve at the same level as last year which poses the threat of a spike in taxes next year, or consider tax anticipation notes which is not a good option for a town that will probably not see major growth in ratables.
- Possible installation of a sewer pump station and sewer extension at the Municipal complex.
- Areas of revenue in support of the budget include:
- state aid, which is due to increase around 2 percent this year
- local fees, fines and interest which are holding up well
- surplus jumped this year because of strong revenues in 2006
- delinquent taxes shows a slight decline
- municipal taxes
- Water and sewer accounts are in good shape. The water fund budget will increase because of some recent water improvements and the increase in the cost of purchasing water from our supplier. The Manager will be asking the Council to consider another water rate increase later this year which will employ the concept of water conservation and higher rates for large consumers.
In summary, the Manager expressed his belief that Randolph is in very good financial shape despite the possibility of the large tax appeals. He recommends the Council consider a three cent tax increase, which will result in a yearly impact of approximately $100.00 on the average assessed household. The Manager emphasized the fact that any decision the Council makes will have an impact, whether it be on this year’s budget or a future budget, and asked the Council to consider the following points when making budget decisions:
- Will this action compound a tax rate increase in 2008?
- How does the value of the reduction compare with the expectations placed on the Township by the public?
- If this expenditure is deferred for a year, can and will the organization catch up in the future?
- Will this decision make Randolph a stronger community five years from now?
The Manager continued to summarize the rest of the budget document for the Council, highlighting the following items:
- Budget expenditures gives the Council a sense as to how the budget is allocated in the township.
- The breakdown of the costs associated with operating a government.
- A history of the reserve which is a valuable tool for the Council.
- Budget increases over a period of several years and the percentages of those increases.
- The trend on ratable growth in the township.
- How the tax rate is structured.
- A ten year history of the surplus fund.
- The breakdown of each operational budget in the township.
Items noted on the Capital Outlay project list included:
- The concept of a paperless Council
- Historic records preservation program
- Flat files for Planning storage needs
- Feasibility study for the proposed extension of Millbrook Avenue in Mt. Freedom
- Storm drain markers
- Wallpaper replacement in the southside hallway in Town Hall
- Energy conserving blind installation in Town Hall
- Repair of eaves at Town Hall
- Locker room upgrade in the police department
- Sound system upgrade in court room
- Utilities energy audit
- Salt storage door, anti-ice dispersing tanks, crack sealer, used leaf/brush trailer, vehicle lifts, hydraulic press for Public Works
- Purchase of two administrative vehicles
- Police vehicle replacement
- Subgun replacements
- Recording hardware for interrogation room in police department
- Radar replacements
- Field liner for Parks and Recreation
The Manager concluded his presentation by asking the Council to read through the budget document and email any questions they have regarding the budget to him. He will copy those questions and the answers to all the other Council members as well as compile a list of questions and answers for the public.
Councilman Algeier stated that he appreciated the Manager separating the county and school portion of reserve for uncollected taxes from the municipal portion and asked that the same be done for the historical summary. Councilman Algeier would also like to see a chart showing the control of municipal spending over the last four of five years for comparative purposes. Regarding mandatory increases in the library tax, the councilman asked the Manager to investigate whether there is any legislation from other towns opposing that mandate.
Councilman Napoliello asked what happens to money remaining in the snow plowing fund.
Manager Lovell responded that a snow fund for municipalities has been created and excess money is placed into that fund.
Councilman Napoliello asked about the status of the Center Road property.
Manager Lovell responded that a title search was done and a deed restriction was found for that property.
Councilman Algeier suggested trying to locate the heirs to that property so that taxes can be paid on the property or to see if they are interested in selling the land to Randolph.
Councilman Napoliello asked the Manager to provide a document showing the impacts of a two cent and one cent tax increases for Council’s consideration.
Mayor Obremski asked if the money remaining in the reserve goes into surplus at the end of the year.
The Manager and Finance Director provided information on the reserve and surplus accounts.
Councilwoman Mitsch asked if this would possibly be the last year for a large number of tax appeals.
Manager Lovell responded that he has the impression that most of the larger commercial properties have already sought tax appeals.
Councilman Algeier expressed concern that publicity from the budget meeting will possibly trigger more tax appeals. Regarding the options the Manager presented concerning the reserve for uncollected taxes, the Councilman expressed the following:
- The option of doing nothing and possibly necessitating a spike in the tax rate is not something he favors. Over the years every Council has avoided spikes in the tax rate. Also, statements from various rating services mention that one of the reasons a town receives a AA+ rating like Randolph enjoys is because they don’t engage in tax manipulations involving spiking.
- The option of tax anticipation notes, particularly in light of this budget, would not be a favorable option to him.
Mayor Obremski suggested each Council member take time to review the budget document and submit questions via email to the Manager.
SHONGUM ROAD SEWER EXTENSION—SPECIAL ASSESSMENT PROJECT
Manager Lovell stated that a 2/3 majority of property owners along a stretch of Shongum Road have asked for a sewer extension and have agreed to a special assessment. He has listed this project as a capital improvement project this year. In order to get the project moving, the Council is required to issue a policy perspective in support of the special assessment and an ordinance will be provided.
The Council expressed support of this project.
REVIEW AND SET PROPOSED AGENDA FOR MARCH 1, 2007 REGULAR MEETING
The Manager reviewed the agenda with the Council.
Township Attorney Buzak recommended holding a public hearing on an ordinance that is being tabled concerning an agreement with the Morris County MUA. Adoption will be scheduled for a later date.
There was some discussion regarding a developer’s fee ordinance. Manager Lovell stated that he will pull the ordinance from next week and develop a chart showing numbers related to anticipated projects in town.
COUNCIL AND MANAGER COMMENTS
There was discussion about the Highlands map. Manager Lovell noted for the record that the County took the Highlands map, which was virtually unreadable, and developed a more legible map for the towns.
Councilman Algeier commented on a document from the Manager that indicates the DEP is taking over the state.
Township Attorney Buzak summarized the creation of the planning and preservation areas by the Highlands Council.
Councilman Algeier asked what authority the Highlands Commission has to create these zones, and if they don’t have the authority, how will they enforce restrictions.
Manager Lovell stated that he believes more regulations will be forthcoming, possibly the control of the issuance of septic permits. The Manager also noted that permits have been issued for the system that will handle the septic at the proposed senior housing on Calais Road.
Councilman Metz stated that he thought the budget was done well and asked if there was a timeline for adopting the budget.
The Manager responded that he would like to hold another combined meeting on March 15. He would like to introduce the budget at the first meeting in April.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Barbara Davis, 6 Chestnut Hill Road, asked why the resolution approving the renewal of the Garden State Preservation Trust was not passed.
Councilman Algeier responded that the resolution was defeated because the Council felt that not enough money was going to open space. He has suggested to the Mayor that a new resolution be drafted supporting the concept of the Garden State Open Space Trust where there is more focus on open space acquisition.
Mrs. Davis supported the Council’s new resolution and she asked that the approved resolution be forwarded as quickly as possible since the State Assembly is fast tracking the proposed ballot question to get it on the ballot for November.
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 this meeting.
2. The general nature of the subject matter to be discussed is as follows:
A. Gary Grey Trucking
B. Attorney Client Privilege
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 Alpert made a motion to move into Executive Session. Councilwoman Price seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
ABSENT: Councilman Napoliello
Councilman Alpert made a motion to come out of Executive Session. Deputy Mayor Mitsch seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
The Mayor adjourned the meeting at 9:50 p.m.
Donna Marie Luciani