All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 3, 2022
A. OPENING OF BUDGET MEETING
1. Call to Order
A budget meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 5:00 p.m. by Mayor Potter. 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 19, 2021, by e-mailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on November 18, 2021. 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 24, 2021.
2. Roll Call
Council Member Carey
Council Member Forstenhausler
Council Member Loveys
Council Member Tkacs
Council Member Veech - (via phone)
Deputy Mayor Nisivoccia
Also present: Township Manager Mountain, Township CFO Debbie Bonanno, Police Chief Will Harzula, and Health Officer Mark Caputo
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Potter led the Pledge of Allegiance.
B. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
C. DEPARTMENT BUDGET PRESENTATIONS
1. Police Department - Chief Will Harzula
Chief Harzula reviewed the operating expenses for the Police Department. He also reviewed his Capital Outlay and Capital Budget request for 2022.
Printing - requesting $1,000; 33% decrease from prior year request. Used for envelopes, letterheads, certificates, in-house forms such as Tow Sheets, DV Forms, and Motor Vehicle Warnings. The department is working to move the majority of paper documents to online services.
Police Uniforms - 17% increase. In 2008, the clothing allowance for officers was $350. In 2021, the clothing allowance was $400. The department is asking for an increase in clothing allowances to enable officers to equip high vision jackets. Chief Harzula explained how larger officers have to use more or even over-extend their allowances because of their sizes.
Security Systems - 43% decrease from prior year, requesting $2,000. The majority of security for the building is supplemented by the township. He did not want to deplete the budget with this item in the event of a department issue that would have to be covered by the police budget.
Police Service Unit - This item encapsulates the traffic safety street light maintenance and street Light NJ DOT line items. He explained that the state typically covers these costs, however, funds would be set aside in the event the state asks the township to assist.
E-Ticket - This item was reduced from $12,000 to $10,000. The electronic ticketing system decreases officers' time at traffic stops for safety reasons. Initially, a large sum of money was needed to roll out the program, however, over the last couple of years it has leveled out. Chief Harzula explained how one e-ticket printer could average at $1,500.
Deputy Mayor Nisivoccia asked if officer clothing allowances could be rolled over from year to year. Chief Harzula explained that officers usually do not spend all of their allowance; they typically have a small amount left over that is pooled to assist the officers who need more funds to cover their clothing costs if they go over their allowance.
Council Member Loveys asked how often the department changes uniforms. Chief Harzula explained that the item is used more for uniform maintenance. He explained that normal a shirt costs about $60 with additional costs for patches and embroidery services, which could make the estimated cost for a shirt $100; he added that a typical uniform could take up more than half of a police officer's uniform allowance.
Council Member Forstenhausler inquired about the department's salary and overtime figures. He asked why the salary item was reduced by 3.33%. Manager Mountain explained that it had less to do with a reduction and more to do with the prior year's budget having a placeholder for the retiring chief and overlap between the new chief, as well as other personnel changes. The actual salaries had ended being lower than the placeholders that had been put in for the prior year.
Mayor Potter asked what the supplies line item involved. Chief Harzula explained that the line item was for general department supplies and was the go-to well for everything. Items covered could include first aid supplies, road flares, oxygen refills, testing, film and video equipment, ammunition and targets, weaponry repairs, contractual general service contracts and air purifiers.
Deputy Mayor Nisivoccia asked if the department was fully staffed. Chief Harzula informed him that they are still looking to fill one position.
Chief Harzula discussed Capital Outlay:
Purchase New Vehicles - $175,000. Reduced by $10,000 from the prior year's budget. Contractual obligations for vehicles are issues he continues to predict for the coming year. Last year, the bidding dealership delayed the purchasing of vehicles. This year the same dealership has the bid again, therefore he anticipates some issues will occur. He anticipated purchasing three or four vehicles.
New DWI Instrument - $20,000. The department does not know when the new DWI instrument will be rolled out; in preparation for the potential of the instrument's release money must be put aside for its immediate purchase. Manager Mountain explained that the instrument rollout has been hung up on the state level.
Police-Detective Bureau Supercomputer - $5,000. The department phones function like computers and can hold important data. The department's Detective Bureau has two external hard drives that can hold a significant amount of information, however, when hooked up to normal department computers the information cannot be downloaded or takes a great deal of time to be read. The supercomputer will allow the information from the two external hard drives to be downloaded.
Police-FBI LEEDA Training - $5,000. The department and command staff were awarded the FBI-LEEDA Trilogy Award in 2021. Chief Harzula is seeking to continue the tradition of supervision and leadership by sending officers and OICs on the road.
Police Generators - $5,000. Provide power to traffic signals. When used, the generators are constantly running for days at a time, especially during storm and emergency events. The generators to be purchased are for heavy-duty use.
Council Member Loveys asked if the township had an idea of what the new DWI Instruments would cost. Manager Mountain explained that the estimate is $20,000. He explained that if the funds are not used for the item, it would be moved into surplus. Council Member Loveys asked if money left over from the vehicles would be placed into surplus as well. Manager Mountain confirmed that if there is no related expense associated with the vehicle transfer or if the police department has not identified an unforeseen need to apply the money to, the funds would go into surplus.
Council Member Loveys asked if he understood correctly, that the department had already purchased a vehicle with a license plate reader. Chief Harzula explained that he added a reader to the fleet last year, not a vehicle. There was a brief discussion about the delivery of the vehicles purchased through last year's budget.
Council Member Forstenhausler asked how many generators could be purchased with the $5,000. Chief Harzula stated that the department is looking to purchase two or three generators. He explained that the township acquired five or six generators over the years.
Chief Harzula explained that he believed that it was important to provide officers with tools they need to efficiently conduct investigations and respond to reports and dispatch. He used stolen car reports as an example of how tools can aid with response.
Council Member Veech inquired about what typically happens to the stolen cars. Chief Harzula explained that the stolen cars could end up on a conex box headed to the Middle East, get in a chase, or get dumped at another town. He explained that unfortunately, the cases are being solved reactively as opposed to proactively. He explained that proactively finding a stolen car is next to impossible.
Chief Harzula discussed Capital Improvement:
The Capital Improvement items include:
- POSS - Employee Scheduling Program
- Soft Body Armor
- Weapons Replacement
- MDT Toughbooks
- Mobile Digital Cameras
- RADAR/Laser Speed Measurement Devices
- ALPR/License Plate Reader
- Rifle Grade Body Armor
- Police Radio Infrastructure
- LIVESCAN Digital Fingerprint Machine
- Body Worn Cameras (BWC)
- Conducted Energy Devices (CED)
- Battery Back-Up Traffic Signals
- Evidence Room Shelving
Council Member Forstenhausler asked if the $8,000 for the soft body armor was spent each year or if that amount was the sum being put aside. Manager Mountain explained that the sums are cumulative.
Mayor Potter asked if the MDT Toughbooks were replaced altogether or if the department had multiple versions. Chief Harzula explained that the department vehicles transition between tablets and keyboards and the Toughbooks.
Deputy Mayor Nisivoccia asked about the useful life span of the RADAR/Laser Speed Measurement Devices. Chief Harzula explained that once the older devices go down the useful life ends; he estimated that the devices usually last seven years.
Council Member Forstenhausler asked about the placement of conducted energy devices (CED). Chief Harzula explained that the department has switched to an outer vest carrier. A cross-body belly draw will be used to teach muscle memory to officers. The CEDs will be on the outside of the vest, the vest is more comfortable, and more technically and tactically sound. The devices are bright yellow. The CED positioning on the vest will reinforce officers' knowledge that they are reaching for their device and not their duty weapon.
Council Member Forstenhausler asked if all the traffic lights had temporary battery back-up if generators needed to be hooked up. Chief Harzula confirmed that all the traffic lights had backup. He explained how the department is notified when lights go out, and how generators recharge the light batteries.
Council Member Loveys inquired about the Employee POSS Scheduling Program. Chief Harzula explained that the program is a scheduling system that also works with payroll, fire programs, civilian employees, and more. The program allows mobile access to view schedules, make schedule requests, and approve schedule changes. The system will save on printing costs. Annual licensing will be overseen by the IT department.
Council Member Veech inquired about areas within the township that have received the most traffic complaints. Chief Harzula explained that the department recently received complaints on Park Avenue and Pleasant Hill Road. He stated that it was common to receive complaints on roads like Route 10, Sussex Turnpike, and Musiker Avenue. He informed her that the department updates a traffic enforcement list daily; patrol lieutenants and patrol sergeants focus on areas of concern and also can take it upon themselves to enforce traffic rules in areas they observe issues in. He explained how tools inside police vehicles such as license plate readers and other equipment keep the officers prepared to respond to situations and emergencies should they arise.
Council Member Forstenhausler asked if there was any traffic violation improvement near the back entrance of WAWA on 358 Route 10. Chief Harzula informed him that he could run a history check on the area to see how many stops or tickets have been issued for left-turn violations. He did not have the information on hand. He reported that he has not heard any complaints from the residents or heard officers expressing concern.
Council Member Forstenhausler inquired about the past sale of department weapons. Manager Mountain informed him that those weapons had been sold to the Morris County Sheriff's Office.
Council Member Tkacs asked if officers used their personal phones to look things up, or if they just call into headquarters to find information. Chief Harzula explained that officers do use their phones for the POSS scheduling app. In regards to cases, officers are liable for what they use their phones for in regards to police work. He highly encourages officers to use vehicle computer systems. He shared that the patrol division has three extra cell phones assigned to the division for use if need be. The council thanked Chief Harzula for his time and for the department's efforts.
2. Board of Health/Construction - Mark Caputo
Mr. Caputo reviewed the operating expenses for the Board of Health.
- Salary - This item has decreased from the prior year's request. The previous Public Health Nurse Supervisor retired as did one of the department's field inspectors. The transitional period for the new and previous Senior Registered Environmental Health Specialist affects the line item as well.
- Service Contracts - Slight increase due to Garden State Laboratories increasing costs. The lab provides water and food testing services that allow the department to conduct investigations.
- General Supplies
- Health Programs - Primary cost is driven by flu vaccines
- Clinic Oversight/Physicians - planning to utilize less physician oversight hours for clinics and health conferences.
Manager Mountain explained that the department is receiving grant funding from the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH). The funds are not being shown as reductions in the line item because the reductions would have to be balanced back up over time. He expressed that the township was fortunate to receive the grant. Mr. Caputo added that the grant was a reimbursement grant. He explained how part-time workers were utilized to assist the department with COVID-related operations.
Council Member Tkacs asked about the water quality at Randolph Lake. Mr. Caputo confirmed that the water quality is good. He provided background on the algae issue at Lake Hopatcong. He explained the benefits of the department's water testing service contracts. Manager Mountain commented that the lake was spring-fed.
Council Member Carey asked how often the department used the distressed property line item. Mr. Caputo informed her that it was not often; in the past year, the department has utilized a small sum to address one property. Manager Mountain explained that the line item had only been used on a few occasions over the last few years. Mr. Caputo shared that he has instructed his staff to be wary of potential foreclosed properties that may be vacant or abandoned. He stated that the line item exists if responsible parties of distressed properties cannot be found.
Mr. Caputo reviewed the operating expenses for Code Enforcement.
- Supplies - Slight increase for department stationary; permits forms, folders, inspection stickers, etc.
- Computer Software/Support
- Construction Official Agreement - Roxbury
- Salary & Wages - Expecting an increase in the demand for plumping inspections services. Construction Official recommended increasing plumbing inspector hours to meet future demand.
Council Member Tkacs asked if the department fees would balance out the increase in the salary and wages line item. Manager Mountain informed him that the department is even with its revenues; it cannot, technically, profit from fees. He explained that fees and expenses need to be running roughly equal to each other. He provided a brief background on how the Construction Official Shared Services Agreement with Roxbury Township benefits Randolph.
Manager Mountain briefly reviewed the operating expenses for Electrical Inspections.
Council Member Loveys asked if the recently passed resolution for the electrical subcode inspection services contract was broken down in six-month increments. Manager Mountain explained that the contract is broken down into two one-year increments.
Manager Mountain briefly reviewed the operating expenses for Recycling.
He informed the council that Public Works Director Tom Sweeney covered the majority of the recycling budget in his presentation. He explained that if revenue was seen this year, the expense recycling maintenance line item would be moved to surplus. Over the past three years, the township experienced expenses on recyclables. Mr. Caputo commented that the department was taking a conservative approach for recycling and keeping those funds as a placeholder.
- Uniforms and Supplies
- Leaf Hauling
- Contractual Services
- Other Expense: Recycling Center Maintenance
Mark Caputo discussed Capital Outlay:
Animal Control - Ford Escape Fit-Up - The department's ten-year-old Ford Transit Connect has started to show some wear. The vehicle will be taken out of service and replaced with a Ford Escape on the fleet that will be retrofitted with the equipment animal control needs.
Health Department Office Furniture - This item will likely be covered by the NJDOH grant.
Council Member Forstenhausler asked if the Ford Transit Connect would replace the Ford Escape. Manager Mountain explained that the Ford Escape is just the transfer of an existing vehicle. The request is for the retrofitting of the Ford Escape.
Council Member Loveys asked for a brief overview of the township's shared service agreements with Roxbury Township and Rockaway Borough. Mr. Caputo explained that the Roxbury Township shared service agreements for Health Officer and Construction Official was working out well. He stated that this was the second year of a new 10-year agreement to share a Health Officer with Roxbury. He stated that this was the last year of a five-year local health services agreement with Rockaway Borough. The department will be working on proposals for a new shared health services agreement.
Council Member Loveys asked if there had been any further dialogue with Mendham Township in regards to the shared services animal control agreement. Manager Mountain explained that Mendham Township had reached out to discuss the shared services agreement for the animal shelter. He stated that the township could offer a competitive rate to Mendham Township, Mendham Borough, or Chester Township for animal control services. The municipality partnering on the agreement would need to be the right size for services to be provided.
Proposals for a new animal control agreement will likely be developed in the coming months. Mr. Caputo explained that Dover Town and Rockaway Borough have renewed agreements for animal control services.
Council Member Loveys inquired about the animal control facilities. He recalled that one building was restored, and the other had its roof replaced and was being used for storage. He wondered if there was a way to work out a joint venture with another town to utilize the other building. Manager Mountain explained that the township could be open to the idea of expanding agreements to the second building if there was a need.
D. REVIEW OF OTHER BUDGET CONSIDERATIONS
1. Library Funding
CFO Debbie Bonanno explained the library appropriations. The estimations were based on 1/3 of a mill (Equalized Valuation). She explained how anticipated revenue was determined and stated that because the township absorbs a lot of the library costs, such as employee health benefits, payroll processing, and accounts payable, a cost estimate that the municipality is incurring is given to the library for municipal appropriation. This item is also listed under the expenditures.
Council Member Veech asked if there was any pushback from the library on this year's allocation. Manager Mountain and CFO Bonanno had not heard any concerns. Manager Mountain explained that the library had some questions last year which were clarified. Council Member Carey explained that when new members are assigned to the Library Board of Trustees every few years that is typically when there are a lot of questions and discussions about allocation and out-sourcing services.
2. Reserve for Uncollected Taxes
CFO Bonanno explained the background for this reserve. The total reserve for uncollected taxes is $2,822,355. She explained that the item isn't necessarily an actual expenditure; the purpose is to gross up the levy to be able to absorb any tax appeals or uncollected taxes. She explained that historically, the township has had a strong tax collection rate. In the last five to seven years the rate of collection has varied between 98.6% and 99.94%. To be conservative, the township is anticipating a slightly lower rate for 2022.
Manager Mountain explained that if the township ends up on the positive side of the anticipated rate estimate it can help amp up the surplus. He explained that towns typically get into trouble when they start using reserve for uncollected taxes as a means to avoid a tax increase which can cause shortfalls and cutting into surplus. This leads to towns constantly chasing revenue they cannot get back. He stated that Randolph Township has always been conservative with this line item.
CFO Bonanno explained that the township's largest anticipated revenue is the municipal tax. There is a slight increase in the proposed 2022 revenues, this was based on the increase in the rateables.
Council Member Forstenhausler asked how much the rateables increased from last year. Manager Mountain stated that it was a little under $140K.
The municipal library fund balance is slightly higher than last year. The township has been able to regenerate the fund balance year after year. CFO Bonanno explained that miscellaneous revenues are department revenues and other consistent items that can be counted on. There is a rule that the budget cannot anticipate more than what was taken in in cash the previous year. She estimated that the amount to be determined would be slightly at or below the amount received in 2021.
The federal and state grants revenue item was determined by what the township was aware of at the time of budget introduction. She informed the council that the township will be getting a $10K Distracted Driving grant. As the budget introduction draws closer, the numbers for this item will be more refined. Usually, with grants, there is an offset between the equal revenue and the appropriation which creates a net zero effect on the budget. She explained how the township benefits from the American Rescue Recovery Grant funds.
She explained that the receipts from delinquent taxes were a regular ongoing revenue that was slightly increased.
Council Member Forstenhausler inquired about the change from the MRNA amount indicated in 2021 and the proposed zero amount, he asked why there was a difference of $10K. CFO Bonanno explained that the item came in at less than $10,753 in 2020. Manager Mountain explained that the item was not particularly the change from 2021 to 2022. Manager Mountain and CFO Bonanno explained how and what items qualify to be placed in MRNA.
Council Member Carey asked if a percentage of township salaries were included in the library's costs. Manager Mountain explained how various township and finance personnel were included for services. Council Member Carey inquired about snow clearing. Manager Mountain explained that the snow clearing number was set a couple of years ago; it has consistently remained the same after review.
Council Member Loveys asked about the rateables change. There was a brief discussion on the tax impact of the ratables and the actual ratable base change. The increase over the total assessed value is $31 million. Council Member Loveys asked if the township was averaging at around a 95% rate. Manager Mountain confirmed.
Manager Mountain stated that the next budget meeting would take place on Saturday, February 26, at 8:30 a.m. During the meeting, the capital items that have not been discussed to date, debt service, and the recreation trust will be reviewed.
E. COUNCIL COMMENTS
Council Member Loveys provided a brief update on the Search Committee's progress to find a new Township Manager. The committee has reviewed many resumes; eight candidates have been selected as semi-finalists. He informed the council that interviews will take place before the end of February. The committee anticipates that the candidates will be narrowed down to three or five finalists. He advised the council to keep their calendars clear in March for interviews. The committee would like to complete the interviews in March and come to a conclusion no later than the end of April. He reminded the council of the importance of keeping this process confidential.
F. UPCOMING EVENTS
- Randolph Chamber of Commerce Networking Event Luncheon Meeting, Thursday, February 17, 2022 - 12 Noon at the Randolph Diner
- Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting, HK Furnishings, 503 Route 10, Randolph on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.
- Morris Habitat for Humanity Hearts and Hammers Gala - Virtual only on Saturday, February 26, 2022 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
G. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
Council Member Forstenhausler made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:40 pm. Council Member Loveys seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Council Member Carey
Council Member Forstenhausler
Council Member Loveys
Council Member Tkacs
Council Member Veech
Deputy Mayor Nisivoccia