Minutes: April 18, 2013

The regular meeting of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (VTMUA) of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2013 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on January 24, 2013 and was posted on the bulletin board in the municipal building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6.

Roll Call

Thomas Buchney (arrived at 7:35 p.m.)P
Barbara ChorzepaP
Doug DobrzynskiA
Gloria GalloP
James KensekA
Stephen PiccirilloA
Vincent ZinnoP

Also Present

John Ursin, Esq.; Ceren Aralp, Engineer; Jessi Paladini, Secretary

Vincent Zinno announced that delinquent notices had gone out for the year ending 2012. The billing company had also sent out delinquent notices for the first quarter of 2013. He also noted that going through the billing register there were about 40 units in Great Gorge Village that the billing company had not revised for bedroom counts, but those units will be credited for overbilling. These unit owners will be receiving letters notifying them of the revisions to their bedroom counts and fees. Mr. Zinno apologized for the inconvenience and said the VTMUA will be changing billing companies.

Meeting Opened for Public Comment

Doreen Edwards, a member of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church governing board, said the church warden had come before the MUA seeking relief from the costs of hookup. She said they have heard some of the figures for connecting to the sewers and they seem staggering. The fees for connection would be more than half of the church’s annual budget, even if spread over several years, she said. It will be a very cost prohibitive situation for the church, she said, reiterating that she has come before the MUA this night to again ask the MUA to waive the church’s hookup fees. She said the Vernon MUA was set up to help businesses in town, but she feels the opposite is happening. She said churches are a very vital part of the community, and she would not want to see her church close its door due to a lack of funds.

Chris Roberts of Great Gorge Village said he is still being charged incorrectly for the bedroom count of his condominium. Vincent Zinno said his unit is on the list that will be credited, and he will receive a letter stating his bedroom count has been revised.

Bob Greco said he had previously requested the methodology for charging fees for churches be changed, and he asked if there had been any reconsideration of his request. The VTMUA had voted on his church, the Vernon United Methodist Church, at its last meeting, and Mr. Greco said that vote was unusual with six VTMUA members present but only one person voting on his church’s rates. Engineer Ceren Aralp said she has not had the opportunity yet to review or reconsider the church’s rates.

Len Colaccia asked where the methodology for calculating church fees comes from. EDU rates are set by the county SCMUA and by the township MUA. Connection fees are based on the EDU rates and the formula in the statute. VTMUA attorney John Ursin said Vernon’s connection fees are the lowest in the county, particularly with the current 50% discount being offered for connection.

Meeting Closed for Public Comment

Moved by Gloria Gallo with a second by Barbara Chorzepa; All were in favor.

Approval of Minutes

February 21, 2013 Minutes

Motion: Barbara Chorzepa
Second: Vincent Zinno

Barbara Chorzepa asked secretary Jessica Paladini about the inaccurate minutes the commissioners had received for the March 2013 meeting. Ms. Paladini stated she had not sent out those minutes. They were sent to the commissioners by the township MUA office. Vincent Zinno interjected that he had not wanted Ms. Paladini to send out the minutes because she did not have a Vernon Township e-mail address. He said he would ascertain that she received a Vernon Township e-mail address and that she would transmit all future minutes from her Vernon Township e-mail address directly to the commissioners.

Roll Call Vote—Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, abstain; Zinno, yes

March 21, 2013 Minutes

Barbara Chorzepa asked the attorney how a commissioner who makes the motion to approve something can also “abstain” from voting on the same matter. Mr. Ursin replied that the person who abstains from an action is still permitted to make the motion to approve the action. Ms. Chorzepa said she believed that was not permitted according to Robert’s Rules of Order. She asked for clarification from Robert’s Rules. Ms. Chorzepa suggested the VTMUA obtain a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order and have them available at all meetings. Gloria Gallo suggested she could download Robert’s Rules of Order onto her computer and bring it to the meetings.

Motion: Gloria Gallo
Second: Barbara Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

March 21, 2013 Executive Session Minutes

Motion: Gloria Gallo
Second: Barbara Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Resolutions

Resolution 13-16: Hardship Installment Payment Plans for Payment of Connection Fees

This resolution sets parameters for hardships on a case-by-case basis. Where the VTMU determines that a hardship exists, users may have the option of making payments in five installments. The resolution includes the following restrictions:

  1. The applicant must submit a detailed letter explaining the hardship.
  2. Only commercial properties assessed at greater than 3 EDUs shall be eligible for hardship consideration for installment plans and only non-profits assessed more than 1 EDU shall be eligible.
  3. Each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  4. All approvals for installment plans shall be contingent upon the execution of all documentation required by VTMUA.

John Ursin said the VTMUA has no control over the county sewer authority (SCMUA) and whether it would permit installment payment plans for its connection fees. He said the SCMUA said it might consider it after Vernon adopts its plan.

Motion: Barbara Chorzepa
Second: Gloria Gallo
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Resolution 13-17: Bills List (April)

This resolution was passed later in the meeting after the discussion of the Independent Contractor.

Resolution 13-18: Revised Rules and Regulations of the VTMUA

John Ursin explained that the VTMUA rules and regulations are not codified as is the Town Council’s code. Once a year, the VTMUA will now once a year incorporate new rules and regulations on the MUA website. This should be done each year before the VTMUA’s reorganization meeting in January for adoption at that meeting.

Motion: Gloria Gallo
Second: Thomas Buchney
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Resolution 13-19: Contract for Independent Consultant to Serve as Executive Director of VTMUA

This resolution is for an employment contract for John Scerbo to serve as Executive Director of the VTMUA from April 22, 2013 to April 21, 2014. The salary is not to exceed $37,000 with no benefits.

Motion: Barbara Chorzepa
Second: Thomas Buchney
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Resolution 13-17: Bills List (April)

Motion: Thomas Buchney
Second: Gloria Gallo
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Correspondence

Letter from Vernon United Methodist Church, Dated April 17, 2013

The letter requests a reduction in the church’s EDU calculation. The letter indicates that the SCMUA said church rates should be based solely on the number of seats in the church’s sanctuary. At the last meeting the VTMUA had calculated the EDU rate based on the number of seats in the sanctuary and also upon square footage of ancillary areas of the church. The SCMUA EDU calculation for the church is 1.4. The VTMUA had assessed the EDU rate at 1.75. The church also objected to the VTMUA’s vote on the rate at the prior meeting in March because of the five VTMUA commissioners present, there were four abstentions and only one affirmative vote for the church’s EDU rate. The church requested a new vote on the reduced rate. The matter will be placed on the May agenda for a vote.

Auditor Report

No Report

Engineer Report

Engineer Ceren Aralp discussed the findings of her research of EDU calculations for hair salons. She said she reviewed the rates of eight different utilities in different municipalities, including the SCMUA. All but one bases hair salons on the calculation of retail space. Only one based it on the number of stations in the salon. She said Bernards Township MUA calculates hair salons based on stations. If the VTMUA takes this approach, said Ms. Aralp, they would have to change the regulations. She does not recommend grease traps being installed at the hair salons.

Action was taken on the following applications.

Block 142, Lot 9, 521 Route 515
3,500 feet of office space, assessed 1.5 EDUs
Motion: Thomas Buchney
Second: Gloria Gallo
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Block 141, Lot 12.02, 299 Rt. 94 R. Baldwin
3 bedroom residential unit; assessed 1 EDU
Motion: Gloria Gallo
Second: Barbara Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Block 148, Lot 15, 323 Rt. 94 Vernon Crossing Realty, Inc.
2 bedroom residential unit; assessed .8 EDUs
Motion: Thomas Buchney
Second: Gloria Gallo
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, abstain

John Ursin recommended that if Vincent Zinno is also going to abstain from the next three applications for Vernon Crossing Realty, Inc. as well, he should recuse himself and turn the meeting over to Vice Chairperson Gloria Gallo. Ms. Gallo took over the meeting as chair.

Block 148, Lot 16, 325 Rt. 94 Vernon Crossing Realty, Inc.
1,200 square foot office space; assessed .5 EDUs
Motion: Barbara Chorzepa
Second: Thomas Buchney
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes

Block 148, Lot 17, 327 Rt. 94 Vernon Crossing Realty, Inc.
2,400 square foot commercial space; assessed 1 EDU
Motion: Thomas Buchney
Second: Barbara Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes

Block 146, Lot 6, 328 Rt. 94 Vernon Crossing Realty, Inc.
1,100 square foot commercial space; assessed at .5 EDU
Motion: Barbara Chorzepa
Second: Thomas Buchney
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes

Vincent Zinno resumed the seat as chairperson.

Block 145, Lot 3, 550 Rt. 515 Chase Bank
3,140 feet of office space; assessed at 1.5 EDUs
Motion: Gloria Gallo
Second: Barbara Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, abstain; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes; Zinno, yes

Block 141.02, Lot 3, 5 Theta Drive

Vincent Zinno recused himself from this application because he is an owner of the property. John Ursin suggested he also step down from the table. Mr. Zinno stepped down from the table; Gloria Gallo led the meeting as vice chairperson.

7,990 square feet of commercial space with two 2-bedroom residential units; assessed .8 EDU for each of the residential units and 5 EDUs total for the property.
Motion: Thomas Buchney
Second: Barbara Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Gallo, yes

Authority Comments

Barbara Chorzepa asked about the connections regarding the municipal center and the board of education buildings. Vincent Zinno said there would be no connection fees for the municipal building and the board of education buildings. Ms. Chorzepa asked if these exemptions were in their rules and regulations. John Ursin said they were not and the VTMUA would have to amend the regulations or pass a resolution to specifically exempt the connection fees. He said a resolution would be sufficient. Barbara Chorzepa said they need to know the assessed EDU flow to know whether to exempt the buildings from connection fees. Vincent Zinno suggested the engineer review the municipal and board of education buildings and report back to the VTMUA for a possible resolution prepared for action at the next meeting. Barbara Chorzepa suggested notifying the municipal center and the board of education to let them know it will be on the agenda of the May meeting for discussion and/or possible action. The engineer will prepare a list of the properties and the associated EDUs for each for the next meeting.

Thomas Buchney questioned whether there was any further correspondence regarding Healthy Thymes and if they could hook up to the sewers. The owners have requested permission to hook up, but they are not in the sewer service area. Ceren Aralp said the only way they could hook up would be for the business to construct at its own expense an approximately 250-foot extension that would have to go through wetlands. There has been no follow up on this to date.

Barbara Chorzepa discussed the engineer’s report on assessing EDUs for hair salons. This had been tabled at the April meeting but was not put on the agenda for this meeting so the VTMUA could not take any action on it. This is the second meeting where a vote for the hair salon has been tabled. Chairman Zinno said they could discuss it but not vote on it tonight. Barbara Chorzepa said she feels the usage of water by hair salons is extreme, and she does not feel a hair salon should be assessed the same as a bank or a retail store. She suggested the rules be amended to better reflect and account for how much water a hair salon puts into the sewer system. Ceren Aralp said the DEP method currently used by the VTMUA is based on an average. She said she would need to do further study on what that number should be. She said additionally that spas are considered as retail space and assessed for such. Ms. Aralp said the assessment of EDUs for a spa is based on square footage of the business. She said it is based on a retail business because there is no other category currently in the VTMUA regulations that would apply. Ms. Chorzepa did not think it seemed appropriate that a hair salon or a spa should be assessed the same EDU rate as a retail business. Ms. Chorzepa said she feels the VTMUA needs to address the uses better for calculating the EDU rates. Mr. Zinno said he feels they should continue to follow the guidelines for assessing the hair salons and spas based on retail space and should not hold up the applicants from proceeding with connection. He asked Mr. Ursin if they could vote on the applications tonight. Since the township MUA office inadvertently left the application off the agenda, Mr. Ursin suggested they table it again and put it on the agenda for the May meeting. Thomas Buchney moved to table action until the May meeting. Gloria Gallo seconded the motion. All were in favor.

Being no further comments or concerns, the chairman called for a motion to adjourn the meeting.

Thomas Buchney moved to adjourn the meeting; Gloria Gallo seconded it. All were in favor. The meeting of the VTMUA ended at 9:11 p.m.

Submitted by Jessi Paladini, Secretary
Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority
Date approved: June 6, 2013