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, 2020
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 Carey. 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 6, 2019 by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on November 5, 2019. 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 November 14, 2019.
2. Roll Call
Deputy Mayor Veech
Also present: Township Manager Mountain and Darren Maloney
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Carey led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Carey explained that Manager Mountain reminded her that they had not mentioned the passing of long time resident and former Township Mayor Betty Jaeger at the previous Council meeting; she asked for a moment of silence.
B. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
C. REVIEW OF FOLLOW-UP REQUESTS FROM PRIOR WORK-SESSIONS
There were no requests with which to follow up.
D. REVIEW OF CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
Manager Mountain explained:
- Road Overlay Program—the aggressive funding over the years has paid off. The cutoff line of where the township is stopping for funding is now falling in the place of the road quality that is a lot higher than what it was five years ago. The debt impact is minimized by funding a large project like this in cash. The request is for $900,000 which is down slightly from prior years; there is some balance that they will tap into if necessary if they feel they want to go a little further than what this funding will allow. There is a carryover of approximately six roads from 2019 that will be done in early 2020. Last year they began working cooperatively with New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) where they agreed to resurface the entire road rather than a portion of the road if the township agreed to do the milling. This makes the township’s money go a lot further. Three additional roads were resurfaced last year due to this partnership. He asked the DPW and Engineering departments to do a full reevaluation of the roads in December. The task was completed and they are working on the new numbers. They will review the list after the winter to determine if any changes need to be made to the priority of the roads.
Councilman Loveys asked if the township had an idea of what NJNG was looking to do this year. Manager Mountain explained that the township coordinates with NJNG and also provides them with information on what it plans to do for this year. Once this is determined, the Manager will share it with the infrastructure workgroup and the Council when the full plan is presented.
Councilman Tkacs asked if the residents in a neighborhood where there is a nearby gas line got together and told NJNG that they wanted gas, would NJNG extend the line. Manager Mountain replied that NJNG has gotten better about this issue and if there was a consensus among residents, they would consider it. The Manager said that if a group was interested, they could contact him to get the contact information for NJNG.
Councilman Forstenhausler noted that the parking lot at the VFW had some repaving done in the past. He suggested that if the DPW crews were paving in that area and had extra asphalt, that they could pave the other sections of the VFW parking lot. Manager Mountain explained that they are going to replace the septic at the VFW this year so once that is done, the lot will be repaved.
- Canfield Avenue and Route 10—the township has had ongoing discussions with the state about the intersection of Canfield Avenue and Route 10. There is going to be some redevelopment at the corner of that intersection; in the last call with the state they discussed having the developer, county and the township in alignment with a minimal match and the state would fully match it for an upgrade of the intersection and the light infrastructure. The developer would like to start the project within the next year. There was a brief discussion on whether the developer could be responsible for the entire amount of the cost of the improvements.
- Franklin Road—this is a state aid project. This funding is for a small section of Franklin Road, from South Morris Avenue to South Salem Street. The greater portion of this road was done a few years ago; this will complete the paving of this road. This project also includes the replacement of a small portion of the retaining wall which is in bad shape.
- Retaining Walls—Councilwoman Veech asked how many more retaining walls still need to be replaced and at what cost. Manager Mountain replied that several more retaining walls need to be replaced and they will probably take about seven years. They budgeted close to a million dollars over that period of time. The Manager explained that there is still a fair amount of balance left from previous years’ funding. The 2020 budget request will go toward the design on Mountainside Road and on Franklin Road; this will go toward the design cost and some of the cost of construction. Most of the projects have come in lower than estimated since often the homeowner is okay with grading the property instead of replacing the wall. There was a short discussion on why the township funds the replacement of these retaining walls versus the homeowners.
- Fire—Replacement of PPE—the township, in conjunction with the Fire Department, funds a placeholder to replace a certain portion of the gear annually to avoid a large replacement cost in a single year. Their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) need to be replaced every 15 years; it is a big cost. The Fire Department got a grant to offset a portion of the cost. They are working on a grant for this cycle, but after discussions, they decided to hold off until 2021 in order to do further research.
- Fire—Replacement of Vehicles—looking to replace two of the fire inspection vehicles in the Fire Prevention Bureau that are over 10 years old. They want to replace these with SUVs in order to carry gear and have the ability to get into areas that require all terrain vehicles.
- Rescue Squad Equipment—the township funded one power stretcher last year and will fund one this year. This is becoming more of the norm in first aid equipment for the transport of patients; it enables the first responders to raise and lower the stretcher electronically. This will avoid injury to the first responders and it also assists them with lifting the patient more efficiently.
- Remount of Ambulance 91—a couple of years ago the squad adapted to remounting/refurbishing the bodies on the new chassis. It is a technique a lot of squads have followed. The vehicle is still guaranteed and is cost effective. It replaces the piece of the vehicle that wears out and saves the piece that doesn’t. The vehicle is about 10 years old, which is nearing the time that they begin to show the wear and tear.
- Upgrade to the EMT Utility Vehicle—it’s an open-air vehicle; they are requesting to make some small upgrades such as putting a roof on the vehicle.
- Training Aid—Mannequin—replace with a more lifelike mannequin, with heart beating, pulse, etc. This allows for a couple of mannequins to be used for training.
Mayor Carey confirmed with Manager Mountain that other than the Capital budget, the township also provides $70,000 worth of funds to the rescue squad.
Improvement to Municipal Facilities:
- Replace the air handler that is from the 1970s; the township cannot get replacement parts at this point. The engineer is looking into the design and specification of the HVAC.
Councilman Tkacs asked if there was any government funding available for this type of project. Manager Mountain replied that there was not; however, there is some available for energy efficient lighting. He stated that they would check again, but he is not aware of any related to heating and cooling.
- Fountain—this has been discussed for many years. The plan is to remove the fountain and re-block the entrance area. There will be some additional landscaping added to match the landscaping on the side of the building. There was a brief discussion on preserving the plaque on the front of the building.
Deputy Mayor Veech asked about the Liberty Tree and the prior discussion on creating a sculpture. There was a brief discussion on the status and the Manager explained that the township staff and contractor will work on a design plan for the entrance.
- Drainage work around the Municipal Building has been ongoing; however, there are still issues with water in certain corners of the building that are a concern to the foundation of the building. Additional drainage is needed in these areas to preserve the foundation.
- This is the first of three years of funding to replace carpeting in the Municipal Building; the upgrades will take place in phases.
- Police Range—this is the last phase of the upgrades; this will address the surface of the range. It is currently gravel and weeds which is hard to maintain and a safety issue for the officers.
There was a brief discussion on the equipment used in the Recreation Department for programs such as the podium that could use upgrading. Manager Mountain replied that he would discuss it with Russ Newman.
E. REVIEW OF OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION TRUST
This was incorporated into Darren Maloney’s review below.
F. REVIEW OF FUND BALANCE (SURPLUS) GENERAL FUND/UTILITY FUNDS
Darren Maloney reviewed the debt levels of the township and explained that they are extremely low. He files an Annual Debt Statement (ADS) with the state. The state has specific thresholds and this one is 3.5%; Randolph is under 1/2 of 1%.
General Fund—the grand total of the township’s debt is very low. Darren does not foresee the township taking on any long-term debt in the future.
Water Debt—comprised of 2015 bond sale and 2018 bond sale. These are low interest rate bonds. There are a lot of projects paid with cash. The total for this year is $388,000; it begins to decrease in 2023. There was a discussion on the increase in water rate last year and to try to keep it stable for the next five years.
Sewer Debt—two items that comprise this debt, the 2015 bond sale and the NJIT loan. The NJIT has been paid off. There is $115,000 in debt service that goes down each year. The reason it is so low is that the township pays all the sewer capital projects in cash.
Open Space—comprised of the 2015 bonds, Green Acres Trust Loan which was paid off, and the 2018 bonds. The costs on projects have come in lower than estimated. The township is in a good financial position for the park plan.
Open Space continued—Manager Mountain explained that when the 10-year plan was created, the majority of the recommended projects were cash-based. The three park projects were Veterans Park, the re-turf and new turf fields at Freedom Park, and lighting and turf installation at Brundage-Sussex. There were other projects outside of the plan that were charged to the Open Space Trust. Manager Mountain explained some points to the various projects, funding, and the 10-year plan.
The Council took a short break.
G. COUNCIL QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION
Councilman Tkacs stated that he was very impressed with a very satisfactory budget; it is a testament as to how the township is run. He thanked the staff for a great budget.
Councilman Loveys agreed with Councilman Tkacs and added that the presentations and budget were orderly and easy to understand. He commended the Manager, Darren Maloney, staff, and past administrations; he appreciated the time committed to the process.
Deputy Mayor Veech concurred with the other Council members; she felt that the fact that the combined municipal tax rate will not change is very impressive. She felt it a great approach and includes the maintenance as well as providing the same services.
Deputy Mayor Veech reported that she had spoken to other Council members to determine a good date and time for another New Residents Meeting. They decided on Saturday, April 4th; Councilwoman Potter cannot attend, and possibly Councilman Forstenhausler. Manager Mountain explained that since it’s on a Saturday, it will just be him and the Council members. Councilman Loveys preferred holding it on a Late Night date so new residents can see the staff. There was a discussion about how the meeting would play out and whether the weekend or a weekday would be better. Mayor Carey noted that April 4th is the Saturday that starts the school district’s spring break; the Council decided to not have it on April 4th. They agreed to have the New Residents Meeting on Thursday, May 7th at 7:00 p.m., and have the Council meeting begin at 5:00 p.m.
Councilwoman Potter had nothing to report.
Councilman Nisivoccia had nothing to report.
Councilman Forstenhausler agreed with the others and thanked Manager Mountain and his staff. He is very proud to contribute and to serve on the Council, who continue to be good stewards of the tax payers’ money. He feels the township provides excellent services to its residents. With no municipal tax increase for four years in a row while still maintaining the AAA rating and maintaining a balance, is fantastic. He appreciates all the hard work from the staff and his fellow Council members.
Mayor Carey stated that she was thrilled to have no municipal tax increase for four years in a row. She thanked Manager Mountain, Darren Maloney and the staff; the budget presentations were so well done and comprehensive.
H. FINAL DIRECTION TO MANAGER ON FINALIZATION OF BUDGET DOCUMENT
Manager Mountain explained that he and Darren Maloney will be prepared to introduce the budget on March 19, 2020; 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 23, 2020. 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
Mike Vacca of 23 Harmony Road has lived here for 20 years. He explained that driving on Quaker Church Road from Dover Chester Road heading east is treacherous. Manager Mountain explained that the section of road he is speaking about is a County road. It originally was scheduled for 2019, but was pushed into 2020. It is now scheduled to be resurfaced in early 2020; the County has it funded and designed. They discussed Quaker Church Road and Randolph Avenue resurfacing and how both are County sections. Manager Mountain explained how the township’s road evaluation program works.
A resident stated that he was wondering about the cost of the police shooting range. Manager Mountain explained that township hold training for its officers and would have to pay a facility. He explained that there was a gun range in Chester Township that everyone in the state goes to; Manager Mountain said it wasn’t open to police and the resident stated that he asked the manager of the facility who said that it was open to all police. Manager Mountain explained that this is the first funding in about 50 years that’s been dedicated to the shooting range. There was a short discussion on the cost of sending the officers to other facilities.
The same resident commented that there was an article in the paper about tasers and that nothing is happening with that because the state has to approve it; the Council confirmed that he was correct. He also asked about the body cameras, and confirmed that the state also has to approve that; Manager Mountain confirmed that he was correct. He felt that tasers would be a waste of money since our area doesn’t have that type of crime. Manager Mountain explained that the resident might be surprised what our police encounter; the Chief had explained the reasoning for these in his budget presentation. The Manager explained that most departments over the next 10 years will gravitate toward tasers as they get approved.
Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
Councilman Forstenhausler made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:40 am. Councilman Tkacs seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Veech