All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 16, 2019
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 Loveys. 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 November 29, 2018 by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on November 1, 2018. 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 6, 2018.
2. Roll Call
ABSENT: Deputy Mayor Carey
Also present: Township Manager Mountain and Darren Maloney
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Loveys led the Pledge of Allegiance.
B. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Judith Stewart of 114 Everdale Road reported that she now has a device to help her hear the meeting.
Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
C. REVIEW OF LIBRARY FUNDING
Darren Maloney provided the following highlights:
- The library appropriation line item is the net amount of the minimum tax that has to be paid each year less the reimbursements and expenditures that are made on behalf of the library.
- The $1.5 million represents the 1/3 Mill calculation that the State requires the township to put in the budget as a library levy. This is the minimum amount required by the State in order for the library boards to seek State aid.
- This year’s budget is about $46,000 higher than last year. The $1.5 million is higher than last year, but the reimbursement to the library is lower than last year.
Councilman Tkacs confirmed with Darren that the reimbursement is just on paper; it is a budget offset.
Councilwoman Veech asked about the 1.0 cent increase that was reported in the Randolph Reporter. Manager Mountain explained that it’s just a shift in the levy; it’s a combination of the Mill rate changing and some budget reimbursements reversing to a lower level because of salary and benefit changes at the library.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked if the Ground Maintenance/Snow Clearing and Cleaning figure was a realistic number. Manager Mountain replied that he has to look at it since that number has been used for awhile; it is not based on an actual salary calculation, it’s based on a plug. He believed that if it was off, it was not off by a significant number.
Councilwoman Veech asked if any of the income the library receives is accounted for in the budget. Darren explained that the library has their own budget that they manage themselves. Manager Mountain added that the township is not able to take any budget benefit from the library.
D. REVIEW OF CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
Manager Mountain explained that he will answer any questions the Council has from prior presentations; however, he will not go back over each of the presentations. He presented the information on capital items that were not previously covered:
- Road Overlay Program—this is an annual funding item. The past several years over $1 million was budgeted; it is funded in cash. The $1.2 million in this budget includes Meadowbrook Road, which is in the last phase of the water line project. The budget for the remaining road overlay program is a little under $1 million; however, there was a balance left over from the last couple of years that will put it over the $1 million. He explained the road evaluation process.
Councilwoman Veech noted that the road overlay budget decreases to $800,000 by 2023, and asked what the thinking was behind the decrease. Manager Mountain explained that the $1 million level was the result of falling behind on the road overlay when it was much lower than $900,000 for many years. He was unsure if they would get as low as $800,000, but felt that funding around $900,000 would be sufficient to maintain the roads without falling behind.
Mayor Loveys noted that the Meadowbrook Road project was slated to be a three year project, but it seems that it’s being done much sooner. Manager Mountain replied that it has become a two year project; the water line element was funded in one ordinance. The road part of the project is being completed in two years. The contractor is moving very efficiently, and below budget.
Mayor Loveys recalled that there was funding in last year’s budget for the Meadowbrook Road roadwork. Manager Mountain explained that there was funding last year; the funding for the roadwork was spread over multiple years.
- Brookside Road—roads funded by state aid are broken out in the budget; the township is budgeting $122,500 for the differential between the DOT grant and the total cost. The township will be funding well over $1 million with this project included.
There was a discussion on the State and County roads, pot holes, and paving.
- Stormwater Outfall—this is a recurring program; it is for drainage projects. The township installs basins where there is a need, as well as makes other improvements/repairs that result from communications received from residents.
- Retaining Walls—this is a recurring program; he has received positive comments on this project. Several years ago the Council agreed to fund either the replacement of the deteriorating wooden retaining walls with a sturdier, block wall or in some cases, removing the walls and grading. The funding for 2019 is for the Millbrook Avenue/Fords Road project which was begun last year.
- Fire—Replace Obsolete Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)—this is the annual replacement program which include turn out coats and pants. In 2015 the fire department completed an analysis and determined that a good portion of their inventory was more than ten years old, which is above the NFPA standard. They embarked upon a multi-year funding program to replace the equipment; the township has been funding $40,000 annually.
- Fire—Replace Wildland Brush Truck—the truck is 30 years old; this apparatus is primarily responsible for wild land fires in Randolph and for nearby mutual aid. It is operated out of Company 4.
- Fire—Replace SCBA Gear—this is the breathing equipment; this year is a maintenance year, with a couple of units being replaced. A significant expenditure for a total replacement of the inventory will be in 2021; last time this purchase was made, it was offset with grant funding. They are hoping to receive grant funding again.
- Fire—Emergency Radio Equipment—the current system was developed and installed in 2000; it is becoming more fault-prone and replacement parts are difficult to find. This project has been funded over multiple years; $50,000 was budgeted last year.
- Fire—Replace Fire Hose—this is a regularly scheduled budget item to replace an amount of hose on a rotating basis.
- Fire—Replace Fire Chief Vehicle—the current vehicle is a 2013; it is the Chief’s primary operational vehicle when responding to events. This is on a regular replacement schedule like other emergency vehicles.
- Fire—Replace PASS Device—the personal assistant alert system that the firefighters must have to operate in a hot zone. It emits an audible and visual distress signal if a firefighter gets into trouble. It is a requirement by NFPA that every firefighter has this equipment in a hot zone; the current units are all in excess of ten years old.
- Recycling Cardboard Compactor—the current equipment is over 20 years old; it is at the end of its useful life. The purchase of this has been deferred for a couple of years.
- Rescue Squad Equipment—three recommended items:
- Powered Stretchers—there continues to be an increase in the number of people needing to be transported out of a house or situation who are physically too large for an easy transition to a stretcher by a first responder. This device actually lowers to the ground, allowing the patient to be put on the stretcher and power back up to be loaded into the vehicle. The squad requested three; however, it was felt that the township should purchase one to start since they are costly.
- Utility Truck—the squad is looking to decommission one of the ambulances and replace it with a utility truck.
- Portable Worksite—this is a set of folding tables, chairs, and treatment cots that would allow the squad to set up a treatment area at a public event or emergency situation.
- Improvements to Municipal-Owned Property:
- Town Hall Fountain/Atrium Design—looking to incorporate both the landscaping and front of the building with the atrium into a design plan.
Councilman Forstenhausler asked if roof replacement would be included in the design. Manager Mountain replied that the roof as a whole will be in an out year, but the design work associated with this line item is the atrium and the canopy out front. The Manager explained that the repair work over the past couple of years has eliminated the leaks in the front of the building, but there was one recently in the atrium. Councilwoman Veech asked how old the roof was; the roof was installed in 1992. Councilwoman Veech felt that replacing the entire roof might be more cost effective than patching it. Manager Mountain replied that the work that has been done would have had to be done prior to a new roof being placed. Donna Luciani explained the work that was done with the roof and gutters in the past year or so. The Manager explained that they will wait to hear what the designer reports. Mayor Loveys added that some of the other things, like the mechanical aspects of the building’s age, will also need to be updated and budgeted for. Manager Mountain replied that he has asked Donna Luciani to have people come in to look at various mechanical systems. Donna explained that in the last month electrical engineers have come in, the Board of Education electricians have been working with the township, and the HVAC contractors have been in; the air handlers are extremely old. She further explained that the HVAC contractors will be providing a plan to move forward with in the next couple of years.
Councilman Forstenhausler stated that while working on the atrium design, they need to work with Ela Ravin and the Liberty Tree Sculpture Committee; they are thinking of having a sculpture made from the wood of the Liberty Tree and place it in the front of the building. Manager Mountain added that the committee is scheduled to come in on February 21st. He explained that the committee has several ideas and it will be up to the Council to determine if they want something, and if they want to provide funding.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked about parking in the front of the building. Donna Luciani explained that this has been discussed in the past. There may be some handicapped parking installed; it will be considered. There was a short discussion on which doors are used the most by residents.
- Town Hall Drainage—last year there was a significant project in front of the building; the 2019 budget is for the back of the building.
- VFW Front Steps—a lot of work has been done at the VFW; the front step area is deteriorating.
- VFW Septic Design—the septic needs replacing. This line item will fund the design of the septic.
- Town Hall Foundation Study—water has been a problem and the one area of the foundation is starting to show deterioration; the study will determine if it’s cosmetic or structural.
- Police HQ Design—there are areas that the department has outgrown. An architect completed a spatial analysis on the entire lower level to determine if the police department could expand or be reconfigured; it was determined that it was possible to create more room. The Manager will be meeting with the Facilities Workgroup to review the spatial analysis. He felt that an expansion would be completed in phases over multiple years.
- EA Porter—this is the project with Habitat for Humanity for affordable housing. This is for the last phase of the project; this includes the final remediation and capping as well as the infrastructure. It will go out to bid in the next couple of weeks. There are additional funds that have accumulated since the original ordinance was funded; the original ordinance was offset by housing trust dollars. He spoke with Ed Buzak’s office as well as the planning professionals and they believe that the township could effectively make the argument through the court to request that these additional dollars in the balance could be utilized towards this project. A letter regarding this request is currently being drafted.
Councilwoman Veech asked for clarification on the timeline for the EA Porter project. Manager Mountain replied that, assuming the bid is awarded in May, it will take approximately one year for the site work and improvements. There will be some time from completion to getting the required “no further action” letter from the DEP. The earliest that the township’s portion of the project would be complete would be the end of 2020. Mayor Loveys added that the site work includes foundations for the four buildings; however, Habitat for Humanity will not likely be completing all four buildings at once. There may be a significant amount of time when the foundations are built, but no additional work is being completed. There was a brief discussion on the history of the property.
Councilman Forstenhausler noted that on the Capital Improvements, there are three lines where debt is being authorized totaling $506,350. He asked if the debt authorized could be reviewed to determine if it was necessary to borrow this money; he would like to keep the debt as low as possible. If there are reserve funds that could be used toward some of these improvements, he would prefer to use cash. Darren Maloney responded that he agreed; he would like to do the same thing that was done for the Butterworth project. Manager Mountain added that they would look into it; the items listed are consistent with what has been debt-financed over the years.
Mayor Loveys asked about Stormwater Outfall and felt that Tom Sweeney did not have a real handle on the basin maintenance. Manager Mountain explained that he had not yet focused on that area with Tom Sweeney; he asked the Engineering Department to assemble a plan for basin repair. He, the DPW, and Engineering will meet in the coming year to create a plan.
Mayor Loveys asked for clarification on the purchase of the Wildland Brush Truck as far as its use and how often it will be used. Manager Mountain replied that, prior to the purchase of any vehicle, the Fire Department would attend a Council meeting to explain it in detail. Councilman Forstenhausler explained that it would be used for other things; it is a Ford F550 with a water tank and small pump on the back. It would be used for fires in the woods, on the trails and off road; it’s the size of a pickup truck and can go in places normal pumpers cannot.
The Council took a five minute break.
E. REVIEW OF DEBT POSITION
Darren Maloney presented the following:
- Each year he has to file a debt statement with the State. The State allows municipalities to issue 3.5% of their three year average equalized valuation; Randolph is under one-half of 1%.
- General Fund Debt
- It is made up of the 2015 bonds and the 2018 bonds. The 2015 bonds run through 2036; the 2018 bonds run through 2033.
- The 2015 bonds are comprised of a ladder truck purchased for the fire department; a rescue vehicle; the Public Works facility; the Community Center, Library and VFW construction; and various capital improvements.
- The 2018 bonds are comprised of the purchases of DPW equipment and a fire engine.
- The annual debt service for this year of $895,530; it maintains the same level and starts to drop off in 2033. At the end of 2036 there is no more debt. There may be some debt issued between now and 2036, but he did not foresee the township issuing any debt in the near future.
- Water Debt
- It is made up of the 2015 and 2018 bonds. The 2015 bonds were used to fund the first phase of the Sussex Turnpike water project. The 2018 bonds were issued to pay for the second phase of the Sussex Turnpike water project as well as the Meadowbrook Road project.
- The annual debt service for this year is $306,168; it upticks to $402,819 in 2021 and then steadily declines to 2036.
- Sewer Debt
- It is made up of the 2015 bonds and the NJEIT loan. The 2015 bonds are comprised of the first phase of the Butterworth project; the NJEIT loan was issued to fund a Denbrook project.
- The NJEIT loan is expiring in 2019. There is debt service that is extremely low, especially for a utility; it goes from $114,087 in 2020 to $75,372 in 2036.
- He did not see any need to issue any debt for the sewer department; there could be an unforeseen event, but at this time, there was no need.
F. REVIEW OF OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION TRUST
Manager Mountain added that one of the strategies will be to use some of the surplus money toward the recommendations that come out of the sewer master plan.
- Open Space Debt
- The Open Space Trust Fund is in very good shape. They have been conservative in their approach.
- The 2015 bond sale was utilized to fund some land acquisitions over the past 10-15 years.
- The Green Acres trust loan is expiring at the end of 2019. This was also used to fund some land acquisitions.
- The 2018 bond sale was utilized to fund the park on Calais Road and the Freedom Park improvements.
Manager Mountain reported the following regarding the Municipal Open Space, Recreation, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund:
- One of the recommendations from the Recreation and Parks Master Plan was to develop a ten year financial projection tied to the recommended projects implemented during the ten year period.
- He handed out a spreadsheet on the 10 year financial projection for the Recreation Mast Plan. He explained that on this document, items in green were changes added to the plan; items in red were changes coming out of the plan or that had lowered funding amounts; items in blue were those that came in lower than budgeted.
- The projection is based on the consultant’s estimates along with some engineer’s estimates associated with the projects. Overall the estimates have been conservative, and where they haven’t been, the township has made adjustments.
- Since some of the projects have come in under forecasted budget, the trust fund balance is showing as growing higher than what was forecast.
- The majority of the projects are either completed, under design or underway; the larger projects are moving on schedule.
- The only larger project that did not happen last year was the field lighting project at Heistein Park. It was based on the condition of a commitment from the soccer club to fund one-quarter to one-third of the project; the soccer club decided they did not want to see their funds go to the project. The township funds were not removed from the plan, but it would defer the field lighting replacement to 2023.
- Darren Maloney noted that the one variable that the township has little control over is the Annual Tax. He explained that they need to watch that number so it doesn’t drop too dramatically.
Councilwoman Veech commented that there are projects at Brundage Park Playhouse funded over the next eight years; she asked if the facilities group could get together and decide that a project could be advanced instead of spreading it out over the years. Manager Mountain explained that it could happen, but felt that anything like that should wait until the Veterans Community Park project is completed and closer to where the last big capital bonded project is forecasted.
G. COUNCIL COMMENTS, QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION
Councilwoman Veech noted that a new state law was passed that all homes served by municipal water service have to have a water meter by July 1, 2020. She asked if all residences and businesses have water meters. Manager Mountain replied that he was not yet familiar with the law and he would look into it; township residences with water service do have water meters.
Councilwoman Potter asked about forecasted budgets related to potholes on county roads; she asked if the manager receives information from the county regarding their budget for the county roads in Randolph. Manager Mountain explained that he speaks with John Bonanni and many of the Council members speak with Freeholders. If the county is forecasting something they see that will have a municipal impact, John Bonanni would contact the manager to inform him so the township could appropriately budget. The communication between the county and the township has been excellent.
Councilman Forstenhausler commended Manager Mountain, Darren Maloney, and the staff for compiling a great budget; it is great to go three years in a row without having to increase the local tax levy. It is a compliment to the conservative budgeting, the increase in ratables, and keeping debt to a minimum.
Mayor Loveys agreed with the sentiment of Councilman Forstenhausler. He explained that it was a lot to digest, but felt there was a level of confidence that the professionals are properly advising the Council. The Mayor felt the budget maintained the service levels most important to the community, and it also maintains certain reserve funds in a prudent manner.
Councilman Forstenhausler added that the communication lines between the Council and Manager Mountain and Darren Maloney have been open when discussing budget items and the tax impact to residents.
Manager Mountain thanked the Council members for their comments and stated that he would inform the Department Heads of their sentiment.
H. FINAL DIRECTION TO MANAGER ON FINALIZATION OF BUDGET DOCUMENT
Manager Mountain explained that the next steps in the process are that he and Darren Maloney will go through and fine-tune things discussed in the budget meetings. They will be prepared to introduce the budget on March 21, 2019; they will then submit the information to the state as required. Once the state signs off on the budget, they will be ready to adopt and have a public hearing on the budget on April 18, 2019. As has been done in the past, he will give an overview presentation at the introduction; he will give a more formal presentation on the budget on the night of the adoption.
I. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
Councilwoman Veech made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 11:00 a.m. Councilman Forstenhausler seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
ABSENT: Deputy Mayor Carey