All meeting minutes posted on the township website are unofficial minutes. Official copies of minutes may be obtained from the township clerk.
Minutes: January 21, 2010
A regular meeting of the Randolph Township Council was called to order at 7:30 p.m. by Mayor Alpert. This meeting is held pursuant to the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act. Adequate notice of the meeting has been provided by posting written notice of the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of the meeting in Randolph Township. This notice was posted on the Bulletin Board within Town Hall, it was filed with the Township Clerk, and it was provided to those persons or entities requesting notification. Notice was also provided to the Randolph Reporter and the Morris County Daily Record on December 7, 2009, by emailing them the annual resolution adopted by the Council on December 3, 2009. The annual resolution, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Randolph Reporter, the official newspaper of the Township of Randolph, and in the Morris County Daily Record on December 17, 2009. Notice of the time change for the January 21, 2010, meeting was provided to the Daily Record on January 15, 2010, by emailing them the time change notice. The time change, which included this meeting date, was advertised in the Daily Record on January 20, 2010.
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Also Present:Township Manager John Lovell and Township Attorney Edward Buzak
Mayor Alpert led the Pledge of Allegiance.
OPEN TO PUBLIC
Seeing no one from the public, the public portion was closed.
DISCUSSION TO PRIORITIZE GOALS FOR THE RANDOLPH MUNICIPAL ORGANIZATION
Manager Lovell stated that several department heads were in attendance in order to join the discussion regarding the condition of Randolph Township and where this town will head in the future. The Manager read the Mission Statement for Randolph Township, which is “The Randolph municipal organization strives to make the Township of Randolph the best it can be by consistently providing effective governance, enhanced customer services, and excellent community services.” Two goals that have remained constant over the years have been fiscal stability and the preservation of open space. Randolph is now moving from a growing community to that of a mature community where there will be little to no growth in commercial ratables in the future. Randolph has also become a county leader for shared services and will continue to explore avenues for future shared services. However, he cautioned the Council that shared services will most likely not bring about any transformational changes to the way municipalities operate. The Manager reminded the Council that Randolph is a top-tier community and he intends to keep Randolph a top-tier community in the future. The Manager introduced his department heads in attendance and asked them to share with the Council their insights and goals for the Randolph.
John Van Brunt, the Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- All of the department heads strive to do the right thing, either by making cuts, streamlining operations, or by staying innovative and active
- The Council has consistently provided the right tools in order to do their jobs
- Most of the recreation programs are self-sustaining
- Some areas such as utilities, some senior services, and park maintenance are not self-sustaining
- At this point, further cuts will dramatically and adversely impact current programs
- Cutting back on maintenance of the parks will cause those facilities to deteriorate
- He believes his operation is currently running very lean
Bill Kerwick, the Director of the Department of Public Works, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- All departments share the same vision of goals and objectives
- At one time the road resurfacing program provided for high quality repairs in the roads
- Currently, due to the high cost of asphalt, that program has been reduced to mostly repairing and patching areas
- This year he is moving to a better brine system that will improve road conditions during bad winter weather and will reduce salt expenditures and manhours dramatically
- He believes the level of service from his organization is very good and will improve even more with the new brine application abilities
Ralph Carchia, the Engineering Administrator, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- In his sixteen years with the Township, he has seen it transition from a developing community to a mature community
- Key for moving into the future is maintaining and monitoring the existing infrastructure, such as the recently completed renovation to the water tank on Old Brookside Road
- Some infrastructure is currently 30 or 40 years old
- This year money has been budgeted to begin infiltration and inflow studies for some portions of sewer lines which will be completed over a four year period—this will enable staff to detect infiltration inflow, collapsing lines, and other things that can be repaired before it becomes a costly expense
- In meetings with the Municipal Utilities Authority, he has been told that Randolph is the most progressive town in Morris County in the way the water system is managed (promoting conservation, preventing water loss, and general maintenance of infrastructure)
Manager Lovell spoke about some pockets of concern that Randolph currently faces, such as:
- An aging garden apartment system, with Quaker Village being the most problematic from both a maintenance and law enforcement
- The K-Mart shopping area, where the Pathmark currently remains unoccupied
- Increased gang activity in neighboring Victory Gardens
Robert Mason, the Chief of Police for Randolph Township, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- Some of the achievements in his department during the last year include savings in salaries and wages, reduce overtime hours, improved departmental efficiencies, put more officers on the road for patrol, reduced the fleet and improved repair costs to fleet, began investigations for all accidents involving police vehicles, and purchased seven in-car camera systems similar to those used by the New Jersey State Police
- Goals for 2010 include transfer of communication services to the County, maintaining a stable workforce, and achieving a proper command structure
- The state continues to issue mandates and regulations that will cost additional money and manhours to achieve compliance
- Additional training will be required for homeland security
- Resources are going to taken to comply with a county initiative seeking criminals located within the county
- Additional resources could be used to comply with mandated rapid deployment for homeland security
- Much of the current workforce will be looking to retire within a few years and new officers will be hired at a lower pay scale and different benefit packages
- He is concerned that trying to do more with current or less manpower will result in a negative impact
Mark Caputo, Randolph’s Health Officer, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- Randolph has been providing Rockaway Borough with local health services for almost 30 years
- Randolph also provide animal control and licensing services to Rockaway Borough
- Randolph provides animal control services for Dover
- A goal for the future is to continue property maintenance enforcement
- The Certificate of Habitability Program is working well with voluntary compliance from the apartment complexes
- The Health Department handles recycling coordination and solid waste collections services as well as a full array of local health services
Darren Carney, Planning and Zoning Administrator, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- A major state initiative from the state that could dramatically impact Randolph is COAH
- At this point with the change in administration in Trenton, it is unclear what direction the state is going to take, making planning for the future difficult
- The waste water management plan from the DEP is not fully known at this time
Michael Soccio, Director of Finance for Randolph, made the following comments regarding his organization:
- Currently revenues are down
- His goal is reflected in the Mission Statement, to do as much as possible with the least impact to taxpayers
- The budget process for 2010 is just beginning, and it will be a little more difficult than it has been in the past
- Tax collections were a bit better than expected and that extra revenue will be put into reserves for upcoming tax appeals and shortfalls in department revenues
Manager Lovell stated that for many years, the preservation of open space was a goal in Randolph Township and Randolph has been very successful with this over the years. Those properties that were acquired must now be maintained. Randolph will be eligible to receive assistance in developing stewardship plans for those open space assets to be used a model for other Morris County communities that are a part of the Raritan Compact, and this is something the Manager will be undertaking in 2010.
Questions and comments from the Council followed:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch:
- Due to the impact from the poor economy, are tax collections down (yes, within the last couple of years, to about 98.35 percent)
- Have commercial tax appeals come to an end (no, there is currently a back-up in the courts so many have not yet been heard so money should still be set aside to cover this expense)
- She sees the parks and the recreation program as assets to Randolph Township that contribute to the mission of the community
- Maintenance of Randolph’s infrastructure and assets should be a part of the budget discussions going forward
- Randolph enjoys a stronger financial position than many other towns because of the leadership and cooperation of the department heads in looking for shared services opportunities and streamlining their organizations
- Snow removal services in Randolph are excellent
- The depth of experience of the various department heads is another Township asset
- Randolph was involved in shared services long before it was fashionable or topical
- Pertaining to the DPW, is there any need in the near future to purchase high ticket items (no, other than what has already been earmarked in the capital program)
- Is the DPW equipment currently in place to treat all of the roads in town with the brine solution during a storm (not yet, but some equipment is being tweaked and extra tanks are being added, so that capability will be there soon)
- Are there any areas for increased shared services with the Board of Education (perhaps increased coordination of programs with the Community School)
- He agrees that continued property maintenance code enforcement is crucial
- The problems at one of the apartment complexes concerns him, both from a maintenance and police activity standpoint
- He would suggest a goal of trying to establish a program for that apartment complex for improvement
- He suggested looking into legislation that would require the town and the board of education and the county to share in tax appeal refunds rather than the town itself being responsible for the entire refund
- Another goal would be to re-emphasize the anti-stacking laws and reminding emergency responders to be on the lookout for possible infractions
- How are plans for the new DPW building coming (there is a delay because the property was listed in the Green Acres inventory and work is being done to remove the property from that list)
- Is the program still in place where cameras are used to check the water supply system (yes, that is done every year)
- Little items need to be considered as well as big ticket items
- Would it be possible to move the parade from the 4th of July to either Memorial Day or Labor Day in order to save money
- If the parade were moved, the Randolph High School band could participate as well as other high school bands
- Shared service opportunities should continue to be investigated
- Randolph should strive to maintain its AA+ bond rating
- She feels there should be more of an effort to attract and maintain responsible business ratables
Manager Lovell made the following comments:
- Fiscal stability and responsibility remains a top priority
- There is not much more open space to acquire, and now the stewardship of those acquisitions must become a priority
- Randolph is transitioning into a mature community and can no longer depend on ratable growth to each budget pains
- Problems at the Quaker Village apartment complex need to be addressed so that the situation does not deteriorate further
- Current anti-stacking and property maintenance codes need to be enforced and re-emphasized
- The Manager will work with the Economic Development Committee to show local businesses support
- Communication with residents (newsletter and web site) needs to be upgraded to the next level
The Mayor opened the meeting to the public for comment.
Lee Whilden, 82 Radtke Road, stated that she believes the residents are enriched by the quality of the employees in Randolph Township. She appreciates the warm reception she receives when entering the Municipal Building from the employees, most notably Donna Luciani.
Judith Stewart, 114 Everdale Road, echoed Mrs. Whilden’s comments about the staff, which she feels has improved under the current Manager. She believes the Council/Manager form of government that Randolph operates under is the best form of government. Mrs. Stewart noted that the time for the start of the meeting was incorrect on the bulletin board and an agenda was not posted on the web site. She noted that many residents do not have email capabilities to receive emergency information and asked that a solution to this problem be found. Mrs. Stewart asked whether or not Randolph will be subject to a budget cap this year.
Manager Lovell responded that Randolph has both an appropriations cap and a levy cap.
One area Mrs. Stewart would like to see improved is the area of residents recycling their garbage.
Seeing no one further from the public, the public portion was closed.
Councilman Napoliello stated that he and the other members of the Council are very aware of the quality employees at Town Hall.
COUNCIL AND MANAGER COMMENTS
Councilman Obremski noted that he will not be at the January 28 meeting due to a trip to Washington, DC. The Councilman stated that he checked the agenda on the Randolph Township web site and it noted the start time as 7:30 p.m.
Councilwoman Price noted that the web site listed the meeting for a 7:30 p.m. start, however the agenda itself had the time listed as 8:00 p.m.
Councilman Algeier stated that he has heard there may be an issue with people impersonating census takers in order to gain entry into homes or for identity theft. Since the census begins in March, he asked the Assistant Township Manager to find information on how residents could protect themselves. Mr. Giaimis found a web site dealing with this issue and the Councilman asked him to get this information to the public via the web site and the newsletter. The Councilman will not be at the meeting on January 28 due to continuing legal education requirements.
Councilman Algeier made a motion to add personnel issues and potential litigation to the Executive Session agenda. Councilman Napoliello seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Councilman Metz made a motion to select Steven O’Mara to serve as the Chairperson for the Environmental Commission. Deputy Mayor Mitsch seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
The Council suggested a proclamation and reception recognizing the contribution of both Steve O’Mara and Barbara Davies be organized.
Mayor Alpert thanked the Manager and department heads for their input this evening.
The Manager requested the following Council Letter #6-10, dated January 26, 2010, be placed in the minutes to reflect the discussions that took place:
The below goals were established by the Township Council. The list was not prioritized, but does reflect the many points raised by Council members.
1) Maintain and preserve Randolph’s high quality of life in accordance with our mission statement.
2) Preserve and protect Randolph’s AA+ bond rating through fiscal stability and conservative management. Seek out revenue opportunities.
3) Continue and transition from a growing community to a community that is essentially built-out.
4) Pursue shared services agreements so as to benefit from efficiencies and/or enhanced levels of service.
5) Stewardship of Randolph’s open space assets.
6) Enhance communications wherever possible so as to increase public awareness.
7) Attract and maintain quality businesses in Randolph’s commercial corridors.
8) Ensure stability in the municipal organization’s workforce.
9) Open a dialogue with the owners of the Quaker Village Garden Apartment complex with an eye towards bringing about re-investments in aging apartment units and improving conditions.
10) Protect Randolph’s housing stock and neighborhoods by effectively abating property maintenance violations.
11) Re-emphasize stacking regulations and tell tale signs of same with Randolph’s emergency response personnel.
WHEREAS, Section 8 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975 (N.J.S.A. 10:4-12) permits the exclusion of the public from a meeting under certain circumstances; and
WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Township of Randolph, in the County of Morris, and State of New Jersey, as follows:
1. The public shall be excluded from the following portion of the meeting.
2. The general nature of the subject matter to be discussed is as follows:
A. Personnel Issues
B. Potential Litigation
3. As nearly as now can be ascertained, the matter or matters to be discussed at this time will be disclosed to the public at such time and under such circumstances as are prescribed by law.
4. At the conclusion of the closed Executive Session, the Council may reconvene in public session for the purpose of taking formal action on matters discussed in closed session or on any other matter as permitted by law.
Councilman Algeier made a motion to move into Executive Session at 9:30 p.m. Councilman Metz seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
Councilman Algeier made a motion to return to Open Session at 9:55 p.m. Councilman Metz seconded the motion, and the following roll call vote was taken:
Deputy Mayor Mitsch
The Mayor adjourned the meeting at 9:55 p.m.
Donna Marie Luciani