All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 26, 2011
A Special Meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 8:30 a.m. by Mayor Mitsch. 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 February 4, 2011, by emailing 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 February 10, 2011.
Councilman Algeier (departed at 9:20 a.m.)
Deputy Mayor Guadagno
Also Present: Township Manager John Lovell
Mayor Mitsch led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Manager Lovell’s opening comments included the following:
- He will be working from his February 23 memorandum
- He has distributed some surplus information provided by Mr. Soccio
- The Council has received all of the documentation and will hopefully be in a position to approve a final budget for introduction on March 3
- The budget decisions are not easy decisions to make and each will have ramifications for the organization
- Every year economies have been found from within the organization—we are now at a point where the way in which Randolph operates will change
- In some areas we are losing ground, yet in other areas we are able to efficiently maintain service levels that have traditionally existed in Randolph
- He and the Finance Director recognize that the budget is a Council policy document and should reflect the direction in which the Council wishes to take Randolph
- Goals and objectives established at the beginning of the year, as well as past Council decisions, weighed on his mind while preparing the proposed budget
Mayor Mitsch stated that she would not be in favor of Level 2 since she does not support additional bonding for the Road Overlay Program.
Councilman Algeier asked what the surplus balance for 2011 would be if the Council were to decide to go to Level 2 without bonding and without raiding the surplus account. Conversely, if the Council did reduce the amount in the surplus account from 2010, would that number be lower next year.
Manager Lovell responded that the surplus balance would be $752,908.00. Should the Council decide to go further into surplus funds, the Council would struggle to regenerate the dollars that were there at the end of this year.
Councilman Algeier stated that, with that information in mind and wishing to keep Randolph’s AAA bond rating in tact, he would be very reluctant to suggest raiding the surplus to achieve Level 2.
Mayor Mitsch asked if the pace of tax appeals will be slowing in the near future.
Mr. Soccio responded that he believes they will be staggered over the next couple of years due to a back-log in court.
Councilman MacArthur asked if surplus generally rises from the anticipated number during the year.
Manager Lovell responded that surplus does generally rise. It is anticipated that the dollars remaining in the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes at the end of the year will go into the surplus account. Also, each year the remaining balance in budget reserves from two years prior, which is typically around 2 1/2 percent of the budget, goes into the surplus fund.
Councilman Napoliello asked if the amount shown in Level 4 for Freedom Festival fireworks is an accurate number.
Manager Lovell responded that the amount shown is not solely for fireworks, it also includes set-up, clean-up, and security at the site.
Councilman Napoliello asked what the listing for generator was for and why it was listed in two different spots on the memorandum.
Manager Lovell responded that the current generator at the municipal building has exceeded its capabilities, so a second generator has been proposed that will take over some of the power load. The generated is listed in two separate spots because the plan is to purchase the generator over a two year period.
Councilman Napoliello stated that he would prefer to bring the budget in at Level 2 since it would bring the tax increase to below $100.00.
Councilman Algeier asked where the township stands at Level 1 in regard to the 2 percent levy cap imposed by the state.
Manager Lovell responded that Randolph will be within the 2 percent cap. Since the cap is not a hard cap, items that are exempted from the cap include pension and insurance.
Deputy Mayor Guadagno stated that he can accept Level 1. He noted that police comprise a significant portion of the budget and asked how their increases have been set up and how they relate to steps 1 through 6 in the department.
Manager Lovell responded that the increases came about from collective bargaining, mediation, and binding arbitration. The Manager explained to the Council how the process takes place. Manager Lovell noted that when the police contract expires on December 31, 2011, the police automatically must generate 1.5 percent of their income for health insurance. It is his hope that many will transition to a lower cost Point of Service Plan, which has already been embraced by the vast majority of the rest of the municipal employees.
Councilman MacArthur noted that he can accept Level 1, however he would prefer to have less bonding for the Road Overlay Program.
Manager Lovell stated that he would prefer to have a certain amount of cash dedicated to the capital improvement program each year because they are operating costs for the organization. However, it is his sense that this may not be the year in which to bond less for the overlay program due to the instability of the market, looming tax appeals, and the anticipated increase in the cost of asphalt.
Councilman MacArthur clarified that he was not proposing a cash only solution, however he would be satisfied if, instead of a 50/50 split, the Council could agree to a 60 percent cash and 40 percent bond split. The Councilman believes this would be a policy statement that the Council does not like bonding for road overlays and is going to start dialing it back, beginning this year. Bonding at that level would be possible if the Council could come up with an additional $70,000.00.
Manager Lovell reiterated that when the cap law was created, there were exemptions made. One of those exemptions is capital expenses.
Deputy Mayor Guadagno stated that he agrees with Councilman MacArthur in that debt should be cut, however he would not be in favor of increasing the tax rate. He suggested finding the additional funds from one of the other items in the other levels.
Councilman MacArthur proposed taking the $47,000.00 out of capital expenses for the second generator.
Manager Lovell noted there is $100,000.00 in the Capital Improvement Program for a generator. He suggested the Council take $80,000.00 for the Road Overlay Program and leave him $20,000.00 to spend on upgrading the current generator.
Manager Lovell noted that this issue is not critical for introducing the budget and is something that can be decided upon later in the year.
Mayor Mitsch responded that putting $80,000.00 from the generator for the Road Overlay Program could be the start of scaling back on bonding.
Councilman Obremski stated that he can accept the generator proposal, but cautioned that the issue with the current generator is not going away and will resurface eventually.
Manager Lovell stated that the Council has given him and Mr. Soccio direction in that the Council would like to reduce bonding for the Road Overlay Program while remaining in Level 1. They will work to achieve that goal.
Manager Lovell noted that the Board of Education presents their proposed budget each year to the Council. This year the Manager is proposing that the Council present their proposed budget to the Board of Education. This item has been suggested on the state check list of Best Practices.
Manager Lovell reported that he met with the Fire Chief recently. He noted that the members of the fire company did a fine job in putting together the specifications for the bid and reviewing the bids submitted. It is the recommendation of the committee reviewing the bids for the new fire truck that the lowest bid be rejected and the contract awarded to the next bid. The Manager has not yet had a chance to analyze their reasons for rejecting the bid and is not necessarily in agreement with the fire company. He noted that the low bidder has the right to appeal the decision. Manager Lovell will be performing a more in-depth review of their recommendations, however, given the magnitude of this project, the Manager suggests the Council be involved in the process.
Councilman MacArthur asked what will likely be the subject of the liaison meeting with the Board of Education.
Manager Lovell responded that the proposed vehicle maintenance project is very important to both entities. On occasion safety concerns are shared between the two organizations. The most important issue is looking for opportunities for shared services, many of which are often undetected by the public and Council such as salt and plowing issues. There is an issue concerning the Recreation Department’s use of the school facilities for various functions such as basketball games. The state mandates that a licensed boiler maintenance technician be on hand at every site. The Manager would like to see the law amended in that one licensed boiler operator could be on call for any of the buildings in use on a given day, which would reduce costs substantially.
Councilman Loveys asked if there was a dollar amount available regarding what it costs to pay for the boiler maintenance person in each school building.
Manager Lovell responded that he can get the number from John Van Brunt and provide it to the Council.
Deputy Mayor Guadagno stated that, if the Manager drafts a letter regarding that issue, he will be happy to take it to the next level. The Deputy Mayor asked who he would need to contact regarding amending the state statutes as they relate to the use of auxiliary police.
Manager Lovell responded that the Deputy Mayor should address his concerns to both Senator Bucco and Assemblyman Bucco.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Judith Stewart, 114 Everdale Road, noted that she agrees with the Manager that the law requiring a licensed boiler operator to be present in all the school buildings should be amended. Mrs. Stewart asked several questions pertaining to the proposed budget, which included:
What is the ratio of police officers to residents? (Randolph has a lower rate of officers per 1,000 residents than any other town in Morris County, yet nationally, the ratio is very high)
Is the Manager going to eliminate all of the sergeants and lieutenants in the police force? (No, as those sergeants and lieutenants who are currently doing administrative work retire from the force, they would be replaced with civilians for the administrative work and there would still be sergeants and lieutenants in the patrol and detective bureau.)
Is there always going to be a police presence in the building? (No, the administrative people work weekdays when on duty and those positions will be civilianized. There will be times, especially now that there is no longer a dispatch function in Randolph, when there may be nobody from the police department in the building.)
In Level 1, the amount for $188,000.00, how many people will be eliminated? (There are a number of positions opening up this year, however when all is said and done, probably one police position.)
Mrs. Stewart reiterated her strong belief that there should always be a presence in the police department, especially late at night. Mrs. Stewart noted that before Manager Lovell came to Randolph, bonding for road overlays was common. Manager Lovell encouraged the Council at that time to move away from that philosophy, and she agrees with the Council today that once again they should move away from bonding the Road Overlay Program. While Mrs. Stewart would like to support the proposed budget, she is concerned about the plan to civilianize part of the police department in that it may discourage new officers from coming to Randolph due to an inability to be promoted.
Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
Mayor Mitsch adjourned the meeting at 10:00 a.m.
Donna Marie Luciani