All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 28, 2015
A. OPENING OF BUDGET MEETING
1. Call to Order
A budget meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 8:30 a.m. by Mayor Veech. 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 and the Morris County Daily Record on December 19, 2014 by e-mailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on December 4, 2014. The annual resolution, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Randolph Reporter, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph, and the Daily Record on December 24, 2014.
2. Roll Call
Councilman Forstenhausler (via phone)
Deputy Mayor Hirniak
Also present: Township Manager Mountain, Finance Director Darren Maloney, Russ Newman, Jeanne Montemarano, Mark Caputo, and Tom Spring
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Veech led the Pledge of Allegiance.
B. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
C. MANAGER’S BUDGET OVERVIEW
Manager Mountain reported the following:
- For the next three budget work sessions, the draft budget and the draft Capital program book will be referenced.
- The document was prepared with an optimistic outlook, tempered by the fact that there is still no clear trend which can be counted on financially.
- The focus of the budget was to maintain current service levels, facilities, and infrastructure.
- The working document is a draft, designed to spark discussion. It can be changed based upon the work over the next several weeks.
- The state aid is not confirmed. It is assumed to be level, with no change anticipated.
- The draft budget is within the 2% levy cap.
- The Operating Budget calls for an appropriation of $29,640,792, roughly a 2% increase from 2014 appropriations. Rates for the municipal library and Open Space/Recreation Tax are proposed to remain at prior year’s levels.
- The draft budget would increase the municipal tax rate by 1.4 cents.
- The budget as proposed contains no service reductions or major changes from 2014. Staffing levels will remain at the same level as the beginning of 2014.
- The township is in a stronger position than it was in the beginning of 2014 due to conservative Council policies and the referenced uptick in the local economic climate.
Darren Maloney reviewed the 2014 Statement of Operations which was included in the budget book. The township ended the year with 12.9 million dollars in surplus, combined with the water & sewer. Darren explained the breakdown: Water ended with $764,165 in surplus, the Sewer ended with 6.1 million dollars, and the town ended with slightly over 6 million dollars in surplus. Much of it is due to having a very good year with Miscellaneous Revenue Not Anticipated, non-budgeted revenue that the township received; it predominantly came from FEMA reimbursements, the health benefit dividend, and sewer connection fees. Also, the collection rate was 98.98% which helped drive surplus. The township budgets conservatively each year; revenues are slightly underestimated so anything that comes in above goes right into surplus. Lastly, the township is lapsing appropriation reserves which is prior year expenditures that haven’t been spent; 2013 expenditures. The immediate prior year is left open in order to close out any prior bills.
Manager Mountain continued his report:
- Highlights of budget appropriations:
- Salary and wages—strong efforts to collectively bargain contracts in the last several years have greatly reduced the impact on this part of the budget.
- Capital improvements—is up modestly, there are a couple of projects that are unique.
- Recycling—in the process of privatizing the service, it was understood that there would be a slight lag between making the change and reaping the benefit. This year’s budget contains the cost of the privatized service, it doesn’t yet show the reduction because of the retirement scheduled for the middle of the year, and the employees that had been part of the recycling operation are still budgeted for. Also, the results of the sale of the assets have not been seen yet. The impact will be seen in the 2016 budget.
- Sanitation—still seeing the lagging effect of fuel costs which contributed to the contracts being higher.
- Insurance—despite the dividend received from the Health Insurance Fund, health insurance premiums are still a driver; the cost increase is less than what it has been in recent years.
- Deferred charges—is up and that’s where the cost of the Revaluation is being offset.
- Ralph Carchia will make a full presentation of the Water and Sewer operation at an upcoming meeting.
- The Water and Sewer Funds also continue to grow stronger and are in very good financial condition.
- The Water fund is benefitting from the Council’s approval of a rate increase in 2012 and aggressive efforts to monitor and upgrade the system’s efficiency.
- The Water fund balance was up to $764,165 at year’s end, and additional growth in surplus is projected for the coming year.
- The Sewer fund ended 2014 with a fund balance of $6,198,878. This is a very healthy balance; however, the township has been building this balance in order to be in a good position to pay down the debt anticipated from the Butterworth Improvement projects.
- The 2015 sewer appropriation also includes a cushion in anticipation of settling the Jersey City v. RVRSA litigation.
There are two more budget work sessions, March 14 and March 21. The Manager stated that there is a change to the March 14th schedule due to the Morristown St. Patrick’s Day parade to which several Council members have been invited; the review of the Capital Improvements will be moved to the Regular Council meeting on March 10th.
There was some discussion on the cost of health benefits for employees and retirees as related to the budget. There was also some discussion on the levy cap.
D. BUDGET PRESENTATION
1. Parks and Recreation—Russ Newman
Russ Newman explained the budget provides the funding for all expenses associated with the department activities. It includes salaries for office staff, parks maintenance staff, Brundage Park Playhouse, Artworks Studio, Randolph Park Beach, day camp, teen camp, summer clinics, year-round clinics, Dial-a-Ride drivers as well as adult and youth umpires, referees, and gym supervisors. The main program budgets are the Support of Leagues and Self Sustaining Programs. Not noted in the operations is some miscellaneous revenue such as park rentals which includes the lease for Tamarack Day Camp, building rentals, fireworks collection, coach training, senior programs and bus donations, deer permits, and skate park permits. The department also provides over $4,000 to help children attend the camps, and has waived over $7,000 in program fees and beach memberships so no child or family would be denied the opportunity to play a sport or go to the beach. There was some decline in program number, mostly based on the demographic changes in the township; staffing, equipment, etc. is adjusted appropriately.
For 2015, the Parks & Recreation Department is requesting a growth in the Support of Leagues due primarily to:
- The Recreation Committee looked at and approved an expansion to the boy’s lacrosse team to include a summer tournament level. It was previously run as an outside group through the high school, but the boy’s lacrosse team wanted to bring it into the Recreation Department.
- The sports want to bring in more carded officials. Instead of having two youth officials at games, there would be one adult and one youth at a lot of the activities to provide more support for the youth. Program fees would be increased to offset the expense.
Russ Newman further explained that when drafting the department’s budget, they consider what their maximum would be in order to not have to cut programs. However, when they see a trend such as a decline for several years, then they cut back on that program. There has been growth in the last couple of years in the short term, one day workshops and clinics or three or four weeks of indoor sports before a program starts.
Each of the programs within the Support of Leagues is run by a volunteer committee. The way the programs are designed and monitored, they cannot overspend their budgets. One of the purposes of the Randolph Recreation Booster’s Club is to make up any shortfalls in revenue for programs. At the end of each year, if there are any programs that were within their budget, but went over their revenue, then the department will contact the Booster’s Club.
There was discussion on what has worked and what has not as far as programming.
Russ Newman explained the part of the budget that is not covered by revenue includes some of the senior programs, park and facility maintenance, training for office and park staff, office supplies, and the online registration service.
Manager Mountain asked Russ Newman to explain the Celebration of Public Events. The budget for the fireworks is increased due to the display taking place on the 4th of July and the companies charging more. Police coverage for special events increased due to emergency management concerns. The department looked into a mobile stage to be used in a variety of locations for races, runs, concerts, etc.; the cost was in the range of $100,000. Morris County has one that they rent out so for 2015, they are hoping to include money in the budget to rent it to see if it was beneficial before investing a large amount of money. They anticipate the uses to be at the Country Fair, Freedom Festival, Little League Parade, tournaments, summer concerts, etc.
The Parks Master Plan will have an impact on the 2016 budget.
2. Health and Construction—Mark Caputo
Mark Caputo explained that the Health Officer’s responsibility, under the performance standards, is to ensure all areas of the local health service act are in compliance. The department includes Environmental, Animal Control, Nursing, Registrar of Vital Statistics, Solid Waste/Recycling Clean Communities, and Building and Code Enforcement. Mark reported the following:
- Jo Forestiere is retiring and a full time replacement has been found.
- The Health Officer and Construction Official are shared with Roxbury Township.
- The anticipated increase in construction has been realized and a part-time staff member was added.
- Participation in the adult vaccine program continues to increase. The township is an Adult Vaccines for Children (AVFC) participant and receives certain vaccines free of charge.
- Exploring shared service agreements with other municipalities for local health services.
- The Seeing Eye renovation and move has been completed for Animal Control operations.
- Pound activities, vet care, adoptions, impoundment, and building maintenance is at peak levels due to providing 24/7 animal control services to five municipalities. Since the facility is larger, it is anticipated there will be an increase in hours and maintenance.
- Exploring shared service agreements with other municipalities for animal control/pound services.
There was some discussion on the other building at the former Seeing Eye site and the potential for its future use; it is currently used for storage.
Mark Caputo reviewed the various shared services agreements: health and construction with Roxbury, and animal control with Dover, Rockaway Borough, Mendham Borough, and Mendham Township.
Mark Caputo also reviewed the privatized services: recycling, curbside solid waste collection, dumpster service, Health Education Consultant, and Electrical Inspector.
Mark Caputo explained the 2014 revenue and expenditure spreadsheets for the Health Department, the Building Department, and Animal Control.
Deputy Mayor Hirniak asked Mark Caputo to clarify whether he had identified a need for additional staff at the animal shelter due to the increased size or if it was going to be monitored for a period of time to determine if additional staff was needed. Mark explained that by tripling the size of the facility, more cleaning and maintenance is required. Manager Mountain explained that his philosophy is that as long as the need is the same in terms of the use of the space, and the revenue is the same, unless there are improvements in revenue, they need to be creative in how they address how the space expansion is affecting the operation. Since this expansion was a request of the Friends of Randolph Pound as well as the township, the Manager felt that if there was a need created by the move into the new facility, that the burden be shouldered with the Friends of Randolph Pound and the township’s portion be balanced with the revenue potential. Manager Mountain explained that there is no increase in the 2015 budget for staffing because he felt any increases in staffing need to be justified in ways beyond just the added space. The Manager stated that he has had some preliminary discussions with the Friends of Randolph Pound regarding these issues, and they were receptive. Deputy Mayor Hirniak stated that he felt this is the township’s facility and there is an obligation to continue to maintain the facility as it is now. He also stated that the Friends of Randolph Pound can only provide volunteers, but the township can mandate that someone be at the facility during specific hours by hiring someone. He further expressed his concern regarding volunteers and staff and their respective commitment and availability. Deputy Mayor Hirniak asked Manager Mountain, Mark Caputo, and their staff to continue to monitor the animal shelter to determine future needs in staffing to further the township’s obligation to the facility. Manager Mountain clarified that he agreed that the quality and professional responsibilities of the full time staff cannot be replaced by volunteers. However, there are other areas where the Friends of Randolph Pound can contribute that are not volunteer resources such as in-kind donations of food or equipment. The Manager explained the collaboration is a work in progress; the need is still being evaluated.
There was a short discussion on the distressed properties line item.
Mayor Veech allowed resident Judith Stewart to comment before Mark Caputo left the meeting. Mrs. Stewart expressed to the Council that she felt the Health and Code Enforcement Department was very well run. She commended Ginny Maico on her work and her public relations, and felt the township received very good nursing services.
3. Public Works—Tom Spring
Tom Spring explained that the Streets and Roads budget is the operation of the DPW. He explained that the Travel, Conference & Education line item has been increased this year because a commitment was made to eligible employees to offer CPWM (Certified Public Works Manager) certifications through Rutgers.
Mayor Veech asked for clarification on the budgets related to Road Maintenance (drainage, sweeping, equipment & uniforms) since the amounts are approximately double compared to 2014. Tom Spring explained that much has happened in the DPW with changes in fleet maintenance staff as well as a reorganization; these changes required supplies. The Mayor questioned some of the actual numbers versus what is being requested for 2015. Manager Mountain explained that they are not increases, the budget level remains the same, that those are actual expenditures in 2014. Tom Spring explained:
- Road materials—the cost is constantly increasing, but they are also used for paving done internally, drainage projects, etc. The numbers for 2014 were low because some road projects could not be done due to basin repairs on Millbrook Avenue and Center Grove Road that were added to the maintenance list and took approximately two months to complete. Manager Mountain added that this is the budget in which road repairs due to damages from this past winter would also come. There was more discussion on the budget.
- Drainage—only one project was completed in 2014, and this budget is dependent on the number of projects that can get done in one year.
- Street Sweeping Disposal—Sussex County agreed to take it as landfill which keeps costs down; however, if they decide to shut it down, the township will have to use the MCCPC, and that is a much higher cost that probably will exceed the requested budget.
- Equipment rental—a deal was reached with Jefferson in 2014 for renting equipment for cleaning sediment from basins in Shongum; this cannot be guaranteed each year and it costs approximately $6,000.
There was some discussion on the building maintenance budget being moved from the DPW budget to Buildings and Grounds.
Councilman Loveys asked for an update on the detention basin projects. Tom Spring provided an update, and some discussion ensued.
Manager Mountain asked Tom Spring to address the anticipated road repairs related to the winter exposure. Tom explained that there is about two and a half feet of frost on paved roads, probably a bit deeper on unpaved roads. When there is that much frost, and the moisture is in that base material, it heaves. He explained that what looks like a manhole or basin dropped, was actually the road heaving. When the thaw comes, some roads may settle back down and some may not, there is no way of telling, it depends on several factors. The road overlay program may need to be adjusted once everything thaws and roads are reevaluated.
There was a brief discussion on street signs; one quarter of the township is being completed each year. Also questioned and discussed was the time it will take to complete the repaving of all the streets in the township. Tom Spring explained that he and Manager Mountain have discussed alternative methods to maintaining the roads in order to get more for the money. Councilman Guadagno stated that he thought increasing the budget by approximately 5% in order to avoid an emergency bond; he asked Tom if that was something that would be beneficial. A discussion followed regarding paving, equipment, and the potential for future paving.
Mayor Veech asked if there was a cost to the township associated with the Sussex Turnpike realignment. Manager Mountain stated there should be no cost to Randolph; the county is responsible for the project.
Tom Spring explained the budget items for the Recycling Center and the maintenance of the center. He reiterated that although curbside recycling has been privatized, the Recycling Center continues to operate as it always has, and the use by residents could potentially increase. There was discussion on the electronics collection at the Recycling Center.
Tom Spring discussed the budget for snow removal, and reported that they stayed within the budget for 2014. There was some discussion on the current methods for treating the roads, the different types of materials used in the past and present, and the recent changes to the road treatment methods. Mayor Veech and the Council expressed their gratitude to the DPW crews for their work during inclement weather.
Tom Spring explained that two new vehicles are being purchased; two packer trucks are now gone which reduced the budget in the packer area. There are two new police vehicles added into the fleet maintenance. The Parks & Recreation Department has some older vehicles that may require additional maintenance. The fleet staffing changed; there have been two retirements which resulted in promotions of two mechanics and the hiring of two mechanics.
E. BREAK—11:15 a.m. (5 min)
F. REVIEW OF DEBT POSITION
1. CFO—Darren Maloney
Darren Maloney explained the Open Space/Recreation Trust debt service. He reported that $1,023,984.00 has been budgeted for debt service in 2015. Darren and Manager Mountain explained that there are a couple of different options for debt service. Darren explained his debt service analysis in detail. Councilman Guadagno asked to see a comparison of the debt service relative to the amount of debt accumulated each year on the overall debt. Manager Mountain stated that he and Darren will work out the numbers and report back to the Council. Darren explained the Water and Sewer debt service.
There were Council questions and discussion related to Darren’s presentation and spreadsheets. At the end of the discussion, Darren Maloney stated that both he and the auditors recommend issuing the bonds.
G. COUNCIL QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION
There were no additional questions or discussion from the Council.
H. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Judith Stewart of 114 Everdale Road stated that she felt the draft budget was extremely responsible. She also stated that she felt her taxes were reasonable for the services she receives.
Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
I. COUNCIL COMMENTS
Deputy Mayor Hirniak reported that he cannot attend the March 14th budget meeting.
Councilman Guadagno reported that the Landmarks Committee didn’t spend $1,000 last year on the GIS project. When the project was priced this year, it was $1,200 and the Councilman asked if they could get the additional $200. Mayor Veech and Manager Mountain felt that would not be a problem.
Councilman Guadagno made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 12:30 p.m. Councilwoman Carey seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Hirniak