All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: February 4, 2021
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 Forstenhausler. This meeting is held pursuant to the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. Adequate and electronic notice of the amended 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, on the main entrance doors to 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, the Morris County Daily Record and TapInto Randolph on January 25, 2021, by emailing them the amended annual resolution adopted by the Council on January 21, 2021. The amended 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 January 28, 2021.
2. Roll Call
Deputy Mayor Potter
Also present: Township Manager Mountain, Darren Maloney, David Stokoe, and Mark Caputo
3. Pledge of Allegiance
Mayor Forstenhausler 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 David Stokoe
David Stokoe reviewed the operating expenses for the Police Department. He also reviewed his Capital Outlay and Capital budget request for 2021.
- General Supplies—$2,500 increase. The increase in 2020 was directly attributed to a new line item within the Supplies Group for air purification filters (#334) for the Evidence Room; the overall Supplies Group did not see an increase in 2020. The increase in 2021 is directly attributed to catching up from 2020 and is related to general supplies and ammunition for firearms training and qualifications.
- Dues Licensing—$250.00 increase. Nominal Increase for keeping up with costs related to dues and licensing.
- Legal Services—$1,000 increase. Item is treated in a similar way to overtime, in that it is only used when legal counsel is needed for guidance and direction. 2020 saw challenges with this line item as it related to COVID-19, emergency scheduling, Collective Bargaining Negotiations, and several complex issues.
- Continuing Education—the department will continue to place an increased emphasis on sending officers to in-service training—which COVID-19 halted in 2020.
- Printing—used for envelopes, letterheads, certificates, in-house forms such as Tow Sheets, DV Forms, and Motor Vehicle Warnings.
- Travel-Conference—an increase was made in 2018 as a result of the emphasis made on sending officers for in-service training.
- Communication—the department is no longer paying for radio tie lines. Other than the tie line, this item is used for the cost of portable radio batteries and/or microphone packs for the MDVR system.
- Police Uniforms—the potential exists for hiring new officers in 2021 along with the potential for promotions at all ranks depending on potential retirements.
- Security System Main—supplemented through the town maintenance line item.
- Support Services Unit—all street signs and traffic signs are purchased through this line item. The department always has the need to update signs through the DPW.
- Police Service Unit—Gen Electric (now Allan Brightway) and safety street light maintenance.
- Detective Bureau—supplies, information fees, seminars, miscellaneous equipment/repairs.
- Attorney General-3rd Party Service—eliminated in 2018.
- E-Ticket—was increased in 2020. The electronic ticketing system decreases officers’ time at traffic stops for safety reasons.
- Police Computer System—Verizon Air Cards
- Traffic Committee
Councilwoman Veech asked if the department had the appropriate funds to provide continuing education for the department’s staff as the line item for continuing education did not increase. Chief Stokoe stated that the department had the funds to do so. In 2018/2019, he requested significant increases for the budget item. In 2020 and 2021, some areas of the budget were heavily impacted as a result of the pandemic. Most training programs stopped or were no longer offered due to COVID-19 and have only recently started to resume. As vaccinations continue, the department will continue training.
Councilwoman Veech asked if the differences in the previous budgets enabled the department to determine what they need to keep up with new police standards. Chief Stokoe informed her that no new direction has been filtered down from the state level, the state attorney general’s office, or the county prosecutor’s office. He believed that the new initiatives were presently too far off to get any real clarification and direction on. He stated that he was confident that once the department is informed of the new initiatives they will have enough funds to carry them out. He explained the factors the department takes into account for officer and staff training and continued to provide a brief background on the department’s workforce.
Councilman Nisivoccia inquired about the dues and licenses the department was paying for annually. Chief Stokoe stated that the Police Department participated in many associations that require dues, he briefly listed a few. He explained that licenses were related to software used by the department for a number of purposes such as accident reconstruction.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked how the software differed from the system that the department used. Chief Stokoe briefly discussed user licensing, purchasing software applications, and annual service agreements. Councilman Nisivoccia commented that the figure in the line item seemed low in relation to the software being used for an agency of the Police Department’s size. Manager Mountain informed him that licensing is paid throughout the budget, not necessarily only through the Dues and Licensing line item.
Councilwoman Veech asked what kind of communications the department was paying for in the communications line item. Chief Stokoe informed her that the cost was for portable radio batteries and/or microphone packs for the MDVR system; the cost also includes repairs and maintenance.
Councilman Nisivoccia inquired about the county dispatch system; he asked what the Trunked Radio System line item was. Chief Stokoe informed him that it is a part of the county’s radio system that the department is charged for. Manager Mountain added that it is used to assign the frequency lines utilized by the system.
Councilwoman Veech asked if Chief Stokoe would discuss traffic calming devices. Chief Stokoe informed her that the devices were included in the Support Services Unit line item.
Councilwoman Veech commented that many residents liked the electronic speed limit sign on Timber Road; she asked if there were any plans to purchase similar traffic signs in the future. Chief Stokoe informed her that currently there were no plans to purchase more of the signs. He explained that the signs are expensive and require a fixed pole to be installed, he also shared that there have been issues with vandalism and attempted theft of the signs. He added that if the demand increased for the signs they would look into it further.
Councilwoman Veech asked if the budget for Support Services would be used to purchase any calming devices. Chief Stokoe informed her that the department purchases calming devices based on the demand for them. Generally, the department meets with the DPW annually to discuss sign maintenance and the purchase of supplies.
Councilwoman Veech asked about the Police Services Unit. Chief Stokoe informed her that the item is for light maintenance with the NJ DOT (Department of Transportation). Manager Mountain provided further background on the line item.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked if the E-Ticket item was a “pay as you go” fee. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department can pay the fees associated until the piece of equipment is paid off; the department prefers to buy the equipment upfront so that the cost is lower right from the beginning. He explained that e-tickets are a beneficial tool because it limits the time officers and motorists are on the side of the road.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked if the department had enough ammunition for training and qualifying officers. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department was stocked and has continued to move forward with qualifications. Last year the department was given a reprieve on one of their qualifications at the height of the pandemic; it was a statewide action from the attorney general’s office.
Councilwoman Veech asked about the county dispatch system. Manager Mountain informed her that the system is for all roads and services. Mayor Forstenhausler added that it was for police, fire, and EMS.
Councilwoman Veech asked if any of the departments attached to the county system had any complaints about it. Manager Mountain informed her that the departments favored the old system more for local services. He stated that as regional dispatch systems go, the county does a good job; he has not heard any significant complaints about the system. Chief Stokoe shared that the department has been on county dispatch for the better part of a decade. He explained that the department’s newer workforce was only familiar with the newer system as opposed to more senior staff members who have the experience to compare the systems. He stated that it had its pros and cons, but overall it was good system that enabled them to provide services. Manager Mountain explained that the system came with efficiency from regionalized service, but some local personal interaction is lost.
Chief Stokoe discussed Capital Outlay:
- Purchase New Vehicles—an increase of $75,000 from the 2020 Budget. Funds will be used for the replacement of police vehicles that are at the end of operational use. The police department reduced this request by $70K over the past two years. The request was reduced by $35K in 2020 when compared to 2019 and reduced another $35K in 2019 when compared to 2018. This time last year, he advised the council that he expected 2021’s request to go back to the levels of request from 2018.
- DWI Breath Test Instrument—request is the same as the previous year. COVID-19 significantly impacted the planning and implementation of a new breath test instrument across the state. Though the anticipated implementation date for the instrument is still unknown, the department needs the necessary funds available for the immediate purchase of the new instrument once the state proceeds. The anticipated cost for the new instrument is approximately $20,000.
- Automated External Defibrillator (AED)—request for $15,000 to replace the existing AED units currently deployed in emergency response police vehicles. The potentially life-saving devices are used to aid people suffering from cardiac episodes and events. The AED’s cost just under $800 per unit. The average age for the department’s existing units range from 12 to 16 years old.
Councilman Loveys asked how many AEDs the department planned to purchase. Chief Stokoe informed him that they are planning to purchase 19 AEDs; however, two of the existing units went down—they may add the replacement of those units in as well.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked how many vehicles would be purchased with the $185,000 budget. Chief Stokoe replied that they would be able to purchase four vehicles.
Deputy Mayor Potter asked if the new defibrillators had the same 12 to 16-year life span as the ones the department currently has. Chief Stokoe stated that he expected that they would be similar; however, as the equipment is used conditions can change that estimation.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked what kind of vehicles the department planned to purchase. Chief Stokoe informed him that they were looking into Ford Interceptor Utility four-wheel-drive vehicles and Dodge Chargers.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked if the $185K included the cost for new radios and equipment for the new vehicles. He also asked if the department planned to transfer the equipment from older vehicles into the new ones. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department would transfer what they are able to; he explained that radios in particular start to have issues if the extensive wiring is moved around too much. He confirmed that the funds will be enough to cover the costs of outfitting the vehicles.
Chief Stokoe discussed Capital Improvement:
He explained that all of the Capital Improvement items remained consistent from the previous year, and carried over into 2021. Slight increases and/or decreases were made as they related to the requested amounts to adjust accordingly for the specific item/project.
The reoccurring carryover items from 2020 are:
- 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
Councilman Nisivoccia asked about the number of license plate readers the Police Department currently had. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department had three. Councilman Nisivoccia asked if Chief Stokoe believed that number was sufficient for moving forward. Chief Stokoe informed the councilman that he believed it was an adequate number. He informed the council that the readers are located on two patrol vehicles and one service vehicle; all of which are out in the field daily.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked when the department may need to replace a reader or purchase a new one. Chief Stokoe informed him that he would like to get five years of use out of the technology. The readers are approximately $20,000 each by today’s standards. He anticipates that the department will consider replacement and purchasing new ones in 2-5 years.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked if the department received the body-worn cameras (BWCs) yet. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department has received the BWCs; they are in the final phases of having the software servers that will support the system installed. He also shared that the department is now in a training phase with officers, undergoing a review of the general order, and going through training that has been pushed through the attorney general’s office. In March, the department will conduct hands-on roll call training with officers; they will physically give officers the equipment and spend time getting them acclimated to the BWCs.
Chief Stokoe stated that the initial implementation date for the BWCs is April 1, 2021; however, because it is going to be extremely different for the officers, as the worn cameras are much more cumbersome than the vehicle cameras, he will be allowing a two-month grace period for any challenges that may come up. By June 1, 2021, the policy for the cameras should be fully implemented. The department will be advertising the use of BWCs on the township website; they will also publish on the website an image of the cameras and details about their functions, in addition to a link to the attorney general’s website for more information.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked if the Police Department would continue using the dash-mounted cameras in the vehicles. Chief Stokoe confirmed that they would be using the dash cams and BWCs collectively; he briefly discussed the benefits of using the cameras under the same system.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked when the department anticipated they would be getting tasers. Chief Stokoe stated that he is hopeful that by the year’s end they will have conducted energy devices (CEDs) implemented in the field; the department is still in the finishing stages of purchasing the devices. He added that he would like to have officers get used to the BWCs before being fully operational with the CEDs. Chief Stokoe briefly discussed the hierarchy and process for approving and carrying out the general orders for CEDs and BWCs.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked which vendor the Police Department was using for the body and vehicle cameras. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department would be using Safe Fleet, previously known as L3 Communications. Councilman Nisivoccia asked about the service quality of the vendor. Chief Stokoe informed him that the department has been happy with the vendor’s products and services.
Councilwoman Veech asked if the department would have a pool of BWCs or if each officer would have their own. Chief Stokoe informed her that the department would have enough for each officer if need be; a BWC will not be assigned to each officer as some individuals will not need a BWC or will not be wearing one daily.
Councilwoman Veech asked for examples of situations where officers would not be wearing or needing a BWC. Chief Stokoe explained the various situations were camera use is and is not permitted; he used schools, houses of worship, medical facilities, and victim permissions as an example. He also briefly discussed the incidents that the cameras are not authorized to capture.
He responded to Councilwoman Veech’s questions on how BWCs will be activated, used and how the captured footage would be retained. He informed her of how the cameras recording functions worked, how footage is maintained, and how sergeants will recall footage from time to time to ensure officers are following proper procedures and discuss training improvements.
Councilwoman Veech asked how Internal Affairs related. Chief Stokoe informed her that complaints made through the Attorney General’s guidelines are internal affairs investigations. If a sergeant’s supervisor watches a captured incident, based on the totality of the circumstances and the situation, a responsive action will be dictated. The actions may involve training counsel, disciplinary action, evaluation of officer conduct, and evaluation of incident escalation.
The council thanked Chief Stokoe.
2. Board of Health/Construction—Mark Caputo
Mark Caputo reviewed the operating expenses for the Board of Health.
- Salary—added time for nurses and staff for COVID-19 response.
- Animal Control—increase due to no longer having the Mendham agreements; the department is looking at alternatives to supplant the revenue.
- General Supplies—$1,000 increase—new chairs needed.
- Clinic Supplies—$5,500 increase -for the increase of public health programs caused by the pandemic pause on usual nursing activity.
- Increased spending covered by NJ Department of Health (NJ DOH) and NJACCHO Grants.
- Clinic Oversight/Physicians—MDs to provide standing orders for possible COVID-19 vaccination clinics should Points of Dispensing (PODs) open.
- Health Programs—increase in lab costs for female cancer screenings. The department anticipates an increase in flu vaccine costs. Residents are asking for the high-dose variant. The variant is more costly than standard formulas. High demand is predicted for post-pandemic flu clinics; much of the department’s requested increase will be covered by the NJ DOH grant.
- General Supplies and Clinic Supplies—need to remain level due to unanticipated office needs, field inspector supplies, and nursing/clinic supplies.
- Clinic Oversight—adult and VFC programs saw lower use in 2020 due to the pandemic. An increase is needed in the event of the department opening a COVID-19 POD in 2021. The increase is covered by grant funding.
- Travel/Continuing Education—the department anticipates additional educational costs due to a new hire. The cost is also associated with lead inspector training, septic training, and housing inspector training. Continuing education for field staff paused during the pandemic.
Councilwoman Carey inquired about the Health Department’s overtime for the past year; she asked if the department staff and nurses experienced any challenges related to it. Mr. Caputo informed her that there has been a sharp increase in COVID-19 nursing hours. The nurses investigate each case that comes through the state’s disease tracking system in addition to conducting the contact tracing for the cases.
Councilwoman Carey asked how the nurses responded to taking on additional hours. Mr. Caputo informed her that the township was fortunate in having a dedicated nursing staff that has stepped up by working seven days a week. Manager Mountain explained the financial benefits of having a part-time staff established before the pandemic as the need for working hours increased.
Mayor Forstenhausler echoed Mr. Caputo and Manager Mountain’s statements; he commended the nursing staff for their dedication and hard work. Manager Mountain also added that the nurses have offered their services to the community in many ways, not just by contact tracing, but by being intuitive and there for the needs of residents throughout the pandemic. He stated that while the state contact tracers are a benefit, the nursing staff’s service cannot be replaced.
Mr. Caputo shared the massive undertaking that came with contact tracing, reporting, and accumulating data. Mayor Forstenhausler added that the contact tracers likely faced communication challenges with reaching people and getting information.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked if the vaccinations would require annual doses and if he anticipated the township would be doing this at the local level going forward. Mr. Caputo informed him that it is unknown if vaccination would require an annual dose. He informed Mayor Forstenhausler that the department has discussed vaccination at the local levels; they are waiting for the vaccine supply to become consistent enough to meet the demand so they can decide.
Councilman Loveys commented that it seemed like there were vaccination discrepancies from county to county. He understood that there was a shortage of the vaccine, but he was unsure if the state was doing everything they could. Mr. Caputo informed him that the vaccine distribution rate is published on the state’s COVID-19 Dashboard; he shared that similar concerns have been expressed to him.
Manager Mountain added that each county was utilizing its own approach, and distribution likely depended on the volume of people utilizing the services provided within the counties. He commented that he was mystified that some municipalities don’t ask for the doses, yet the state designated a great deal to them; he used the city of Paterson as an example. He could not say if Paterson was getting their percentage of doses from Passaic County because they wanted control over it. He briefly discussed methods of large and small-scale vaccination distribution. He believed that as doses are made available, towns and local pharmacies will likely be involved with the process.
Mark Caputo reviewed the operating expenses for Recycling:
Mr. Caputo explained that recycling was once again an increased expense; and added that the last two quarterly recycling bills were declining. The department hopes that the trend will continue; however, they will continue to budget as if the trend was going up.
Mayor Forstenhausler wanted to confirm that currently, the recyclable disposal expense was the township’s responsibility and that the solid waste disposal expense was covered by Blue Diamond. He stated that this indicated that if residents increased their disposal of solid waste, at this time, it would not increase the township’s expenses. Mr. Caputo confirmed that he was correct; he stated that Blue Diamond would likely want to discuss the solid waste contract if the trend continued.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked if the materials residents are dropping off at the recycling center were not all for disposal, but included materials that the township gets paid for. Mr. Caputo informed Councilman Nisivoccia that he was correct. There are separate dumpsters at the recycling center for items that are not considered single stream. The items are organized by commodities such as newsprint and scrap metal. Councilman Nisivoccia asked if any of the commodities created positives for the township. Mr. Caputo informed him that scrap metal has always done well; they briefly discussed cardboard fiber.
Councilwoman Veech asked if the township should encourage residents to bring their cardboard to the recycling center to help with gaining from the commodities at the center. Councilman Nisivoccia added that it was not just cardboard, but scrap paper and other paper materials as well. Councilwoman Veech stated that instead of paying $50 per ton, the township would be getting $20 per ton, making a difference of $70 per ton. Mr. Caputo explained that the tonnage being collected at the center was a small fraction when compared to curbside collection.
There was a brief discussion on the convenience of curbside pick up, the increase in cardboard being dropped off at the recycling center, the convenient hours of the center, and the challenges of explaining the complexities of the contract to encourage residents to drop off their recyclable materials.
Councilwoman Veech stated that she believed residents should be made aware that fiber and scrap metal materials dropped off at the recycling center was a source of funds for the township. Manager Mountain agreed, although he did not think it would make a great change. Mayor Forstenhausler agreed with Councilwoman Veech’s suggestion; he recommended that the information be included in the Township’s Quarterly Newsletter, as it could be beneficial for the township and assist with keeping taxes low. Manager Mountain stated that the question of separating the recyclables at the recycling center being a great financial benefit has been raised to the county; the county has responded consistently that it would not result in a dramatic change. He explained that the changes that could result in a small savings could instead affect people’s recycling efforts and the tonnage being collected.
There was a brief discussion about the tonnage of cardboard materials being dropped off at the recycling center.
Mr. Caputo informed the council that the department reworked their pricing through the county’s marketing plan. He discussed the new domestic markets for the township’s recycling materials and stated that they look promising; the department is preparing for an increase in the short term.
Mark Caputo reviewed the operating expenses for Construction Codes:
Mr. Caputo informed the council that the overall operating expense for the department was down by 16%. The decrease is attributed to the shared services with Roxbury Township.
Councilwoman Veech asked why this year’s salary and wages line item went down significantly when compared to the 2020 figure. Mr. Caputo informed her that it resulted from a change of personnel.
Mark Caputo discussed Capital Outlay:
- Light Bulb Storage Shed -existing shed is starting to show signs of decay.
Councilman Loveys inquired about the use of the shed. Mr. Caputo and Mayor Forstenhausler informed him that it was used for the recycling of fluorescent light bulbs and other light bulbs not to be disposed of with solid waste.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked if the shed would have any bin storage improvements, as the current bins tend to overflow. Mr. Caputo informed him that the center could pick up the recyclables more frequently. Councilwoman Veech asked if the bins could be made larger. Mr. Caputo responded that he would look into it. He shared that the vendor contracted for light bulb recycling was the entity providing the bins being used.
- 35gallon Curbside Recycling Toter—similar to the current toters being offered by the department for a $40 fee.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked what the income from selling the toters is used for. Manager Mountain informed him that it goes to miscellaneous income.
Councilman Loveys referred back to the Board of Health’s Animal Control line-item expense. Manager Mountain informed him that the line item increase was due to no longer having the Mendham agreements in place, despite offering a better price.
Deputy Mayor Potter thanked Mr. Caputo for the efforts made by him and the Health Department staff throughout the last year. The remaining council members echoed her comment.
D. REVIEW OF OTHER BUDGET CONSIDERATIONS
1. Library Funding
Darren Maloney explained the library appropriations. He explained that the 2021 Budget Request was put together as a placeholder and was a 2.5% increase from the previous year. He informed the council that the drivers for paying less related to the basic minimum amount of the tax levy being less than the previous year.
Councilman Loveys asked what the amount was based on. Mr. Maloney informed him that it was based on an equalized ratable base; he explained that the state library board comes out with the rate that needs to be budgeted in order to get eligible state aid. He added that the aid goes directly to the library.
Mr. Maloney explained the cost drivers for the increase in the budget items that the township expects to be reimbursed for. He discussed general liability insurance, life insurance, salaries for back-office operations.
Councilwoman Veech asked if there was a certain percentage that determined the salaries for back-office operations. Mr. Maloney informed her that it was 10 %. Councilman Nisivoccia asked if the 10% had been the set percentage for 10 years or so. Mr. Maloney confirmed that he was correct.
Mr. Maloney continued reviewing the cost drivers. He discussed the increase in pension expenses, social security, and Medicare expenses and provided background for the billing and reimbursement process
Councilman Loveys asked if the final budget book would reflect the calculated figure changes. Mr. Maloney informed the councilman that he would like to distribute the sum to a couple of accounts; he would explain when the council introduces the budget. The figure of $1,164,376 will be reduced to $1,075,000. He stated that he will inform the council of where the funds will be distributed.
2. Reserve for Uncollected Taxes
Darren Maloney explained the background for this reserve. The total reserve for uncollected taxes is $2,822,355. He explained that the required amount for the reserve for uncollected taxes was affected by the percentage of taxes collected the previous year and the total amount of taxes levied, including the school, county and library taxes.
Darren Maloney reviewed how the miscellaneous revenues line item was determined. He explained the key drivers for revenue and commented that one of the drivers, the Morris County Co-op, is a well-run program that brings in money. He discussed the lapse in appropriation reserves and explained that in annual budgets, appropriations are put together for specified amounts for spending. The sums that are not spent by the end of the year lapse into the fund balance surplus. He stated that the lapse was key for regenerating fund surplus each year.
He informed the council that the township ended 2020 with $2,089,000 in the appropriation reserves. The figure will possibly go down slightly because of payments made for outstanding bills. He also explained that out of the $2 million, $1 million of the funds is encumbered; from his experience, the entire encumbered amount will not be spent. He referred back to the Snow Trust Reserve Councilman Loveys inquired about during a recent council meeting; he shared that he plans to cancel the remaining funds in the trust, which was funded by the appropriation reserve, to increase the final balance. He discussed how the township has charged COVID-19 related expenses, such as the nurse’s salaries, to the trust and why the fund balance may need to be increased.
He reviewed the tax collection rate, reserve for uncollected taxes and levy figures from 2017, 2018, and 2019. He informed the council that the tax collection rate for 2020 was not yet available.
Councilwoman Carey asked when the collection rate would be available. Mr. Maloney informed her that he did not yet know.
Deputy Mayor Potter asked if the tax figures were separated for businesses and residents. Mr. Maloney informed her that they were not. Deputy Mayor Potter commented that they could not see if businesses had difficulty paying their taxes due to COVID-19. Mr. Maloney responded that they would know if the businesses were delinquent on payments.
Deputy Mayor Potter asked if Mr. Maloney noticed a spike in businesses unable to pay their taxes. Mr. Maloney informed her that some commercial properties could have possibly experienced problems, though there was not a significant amount. He believed that this may be an issue in the future as commercial businesses appeal their taxes.
Mr. Maloney reviewed tax collection for 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. He anticipated $550,000 of collected revenue from the delinquent taxes, and informed the council that the figure could change, as calculations develop. He stated that he was being conservative in his estimation.
Councilman Tkacs asked if the figure was generated in part by individuals conducting tax appeals. Mr. Maloney informed him that the figure was based on late tax payments only. He informed the councilman that if someone was appealing their tax, they would have to be in current standing.
Mr. Maloney continued to discuss miscellaneous revenue items. He explained the key drivers for revenue decreases which included Recreation Department fees and Municipal Court fees.
Deputy Mayor Potter asked Mr. Maloney if he was budgeting for 2020 and 2021 by looking at the loss from the previous year to make decisions about doing the same things for the current year. Mr. Maloney informed her that rules stipulate that the township can only budget for what has been collected in the previous year.
Mayor Forstenhausler asked if Municipal Court continued to not be held in person. Manager Mountain confirmed he was correct, he stated that it was likely that the court would be one of the last things to open up because of the activity and organization required. A discussion about court fees and services was held.
Mr. Maloney briefly reviewed interest on investments.
Mr. Maloney touched on the effect COVID had on revenue for the Township and that some departments suffered while others remained consistent.
E. COMBINED ACTION RESOLUTIONS
Item #3, R-56-21, Authorizing the Township Manager to sign the NJDOT Intersection Improvement application for Canfield Avenue and Route 10—Councilwoman Veech asked if the traffic light improvements by the NJDOT for the Route 10 upgrade project would be completed at the same time the department is paying for it. Manager Mountain informed her that the project would be completed in phases; he explained the developers’ process for the project.
Councilwoman Veech asked about the site plan approval for the construction of a convenience store/gas station and automobile dealership at the southeast corner of the Route 10 and Canfield Avenue intersection. She stated that she had never seen a dealership with a convenience store and gas station. Manager Mountain informed her that the areas would function as two lots.
Councilman Nisivoccia asked about the timing of the projects. Manager Mountain stated that it was hard to say because the projects are in the developers’ hands. The projects are expected to start this year. Mayor Forstenhausler added that road widening is estimated to take place in 2021-2022, with striping and temporary signal changes being done after the phase is completed; traffic lighting improvements are likely to take place in 2023-2024.
Item #2, R-55-2, Rejecting all bids for the Municipal Building Air Handler Replacement project—Councilman Tkacs asked what resulted in the rejecting of all the bids for the air handler project. Manager Mountain explained that the specification for the bid was issued as Design-Build specification; it was learned after the bid was put out that this is not currently allowed under Local Public Contracts Law (LPCL).
1. R-54-21 Awarding a contract for the Franklin Road repaving project to Mike Fitzpatrick Contractors of Oak Ridge, NJ—$289,511
2. R-55-21 Rejecting all bids for the Municipal Building Air Handler Replacement project
3. R-56-21 Authorizing the Township Manager to sign the NJDOT Intersection Improvement application for Canfield Avenue and Route 10
Councilwoman Carey made a motion to approve the Combined Action Resolutions. Councilwoman Veech seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Potter
F. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
G. COUNCIL COMMENTS
Councilman Loveys had nothing to report.
Councilwoman Veech stated that she has provided some documents from the Environmental Advisory Committee and the Cannabis Committee. She has been catching up on the readings; she stated that if anyone had questions to let her know.
She relayed a message from Thomas Burk, a member of the Traffic Advisory Committee, to the council and Manager Mountain expressing that the roads were in incredible shape during the winter season; Mr. Burk wanted the Department of Public Works to know there work was appreciated.
She also shared that a member of the Traffic Advisory Committee expressed some complaints about the Randolph Urgent Care facility. He was not happy with having to go back into the facility to retrieve his test results, and he disapproved of signage at the facility stating that certain services were free; when he found they were not. He asked for his concerns to be brought to the township to see if anything can be done. Manager Mountain informed Councilwoman Veech that Urgent Care was a licensed facility and that the township’s jurisdiction was over its operational cleanliness. The township does not have jurisdiction over how the facility conducts its business operations. He explained that the town does what it can and that overall; many Urgent Care facilities are offering good services. He shared that if people have complaints, they can make them known to the state.
Councilman Tkacs had nothing to report.
Councilman Nisivoccia shared that he attended the Municipal Alliance Committee (MAC). He informed the council that MAC would be reaching out to local houses of worship to help educate about substance abuse. There are 22 entities in town; the MAC hopes to reach out to all of them this year. Mayor Forstenhausler commented that having a deacon on the committee would be helpful for reaching out to religious organizations.
Councilwoman Carey had nothing to report.
Deputy Mayor Potter had nothing to report.
Mayor Forstenhausler thanked everyone for attending the budget meeting.
H. ADJOURN BUDGET SESSION
Councilman Nisivoccia made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:25 pm. Councilwoman Carey seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Potter