Minutes: August 20, 2020

Regular Meeting/Work Session Minutes

These minutes are a synopsis of the meeting that took place on 8/20/2020. Copies of the recording are available at the office of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (the “MUA”).

1. Call to Order

The regular meeting of the MUA was convened on August 20, 2020 remotely via Zoom and called to order by Chairman Michael Furrey at 7:05 p.m.

2. Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 213, PL 1975, adequate notice as defined in Section 3D of Chapter 231, PL 1975 of this regular meeting was provided to the public and the press on January 20, 2020 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the MUA as well as posted on the website.

3. Salute to the Flag

4. Roll Call of Members and Professionals

The following members were present:
Michael Furrey
Paul Kearney
Dave McDermott
Kristin Wheaton
Andrew Pitsker

Professionals: Donelle Bright, Administrator; Colette J. Borell, Recording Secretary and Howard Lazier, MUA Licensed Operator of Record.

5. Open Meeting to the Public

Mr. Furrey motioned to open the meeting to the public which was seconded by Mr. Pitsker and unanimously carried.

No one wishing to be heard, Mr. McDermott motioned to close the meeting to the public which was seconded by Mr. Pitsker and unanimously carried.

6. Resolutions

A. Resolution #20-32: Approval of Bills

At this time Mr. Furrey questioned the invoice for electrical repairs. Ms. Bright explained that the purchase order was set up pursuant to a request by the former MUA licensed operator of record and that he had advised Ms. Bright that it concerned a clogged pump. Mr. Kearney commented that sometimes when the waste removal (grinder) pumps get clogged an electrician would be called in and stated that whenever a contractor is called in for repairs to be done, they should provide details on the work that was performed. In response to Mr. Kearney, Mr. Furrey concurred, stating it was critical to keep good records of all MUA equipment and maintenance. Mr. Lazier advised that he was informed that the pump was throwing a bad voltage, which led to pulling the pump and why the electrician was called in. Mr. Pitsker asked about the workman’s compensation insurance payment installments for the year 2020 and whether it has been finished. In response to Mr. Pitsker, Ms. Bright confirmed the insurance 2020 billing has been concluded.

Motion to approve was made by Mr. McDermott, seconded by Ms. Wheaton and declared carried by Mr. Furrey with all in favor.

7. Approval of Minutes

Ms. Bright explained the July 18, 2019, August 15, 2019 and November 7, 2019 meetings the board did not have recordings nor any notes and advised pursuant to legal counsel, the outstanding minutes should be set up with comments that the minutes were not available due to these missing recordings. She stated the outstanding minutes and agendas were assembled based on existing information.

A. July 18, 2019

Motion to approve was made by Mr. McDermott, seconded by Ms. Wheaton and declared carried by Mr. Furrey with affirmative votes of Mr. McDermott, Ms. Wheaton and Mr. Kearney.

B. August 15, 2019

Mr. Furrey moved to table the discussion on the review of the meeting minutes to the next meeting.

C. November 7, 2019

Mr. Furrey moved to table the discussion on the review of the meeting minutes to the next meeting.

D. January 30, 2020

Mr. Furrey moved to table the discussion on the review of the meeting minutes to the next meeting.

8. Consent Agenda

A. Resolution #20-33: Amending Resolution 20-31 Establishing Interlocal Services Agreement with the Township of Vernon for the Services of Department of Public Works Employees to Manage and Maintain the Vernon Sewer Collection System

Ms. Bright advised the Interlocal Services Agreement had been submitted to the Vernon Town Council, who requested a clause be inserted regarding responsibility for the maintenance of the township’s sewer easements. She confirmed the language was added in addition to verbiage for conducting grease trap maintenance twice yearly. Mr. Lazier confirmed that the Department of Public Works would be able to make certain repairs to broken sewer lines and maintain and clean them to bring the maintenance costs down. Mr. Pitsker asked whether Vernon Township Business Administrator Charles Voelker distributed this to the DPW’s union; Ms. Bright could not speak to same. Mr. Pitsker asked about documentation and safety reports. Mr. Furrey clarified all safety responsibilities not covered in this agreement will be covered under the requirements of the NJDEP for a C-2 Licensed Operator of Record.

Motion to approve Resolution #20-33 was made by Mr. McDermott and seconded by Mr. Kearney. It was declared unanimously carried upon the affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Ms. Wheaton, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Pitsker and Mr. Kearney.

B. Resolution 20-34: Authorizing Employment Agreement with Howard Lazier for the Services of Licensed Operator

Ms. Bright explained she consulted with Mr. Wenner on the drafting of the agreement and advised everything that was discussed by the board is contained herein. Ms. Wheaton asked if it should stipulate that it is a C-2 license. In response to Ms. Wheaton, Ms. Bright confirmed she will amend the agreement to include the language specifying a C-2 licensed operator. Motion to approve Resolution #20-34 was made by Ms. Wheaton and seconded by Mr. McDermott. It was declared unanimously carried upon the affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Ms. Wheaton, Mr. McDermott, Mr. Pitsker and Mr. Kearney.

9. Work Session

A. Old Business

1. Pump Station 2 Update

Mr. Furrey advised the transfer station sub-committee comprised of Ms. Wheaton and Mr. McDermott will possibly be integrated into the pump station #2 upgrade. He advised that there is a private company interested in helping fund the transfer station. Ms. Bright confirmed same, noting she was setting up a meeting with the township, Mountain Creek and the other business to discuss moving forward. Ms. Wheaton volunteered to serve on the pump station #2 sub-committee as the replacement member for Ms. Erichsen.

Mr. Furrey stated that he asked for a level of effort from MUA engineer Ceren Aralp to expedite a response from the NJDEP on all the requirements needed. Ms. Bright confirmed she reached out to Ms. Aralp on the status and asked the board if they made a decision on removing certain areas from the Sewer Service Area. She advised that this was due to the NJDEP request to remove certain environmentally sensitive areas, specifically lots by Black Creek off of Sandhill Road. Mr. Furrey said that the MUA needs information from Ms. Aralp on what it would cost to address the NJDEP’s concerns before the board can make a final decision on the SSA map. He advised Paul DeMuro, the reviewer at the NJDEP, is putting together the application on this with the state. Ms. Bright clarified that the nitrate dilution model is not required by the NJDEP but they do need the updated huc analysis for the entire township. She advised Ms. Aralp had asked the township engineer for this information. Mr. Pitsker commented Paul DeMauro provided a checklist of what needs to be done with the SSA map. Mr. Furrey advised that it will be incorporated in the sub-committee charter.

2. RFQ for Engineering Services

Mr. Furrey stated the RFQ was posted and answers would be due the next day. Ms. Bright informed the funding application is still in review. Mr. Furrey advised they are waiting on the funding and finding a firm that will do the design. He stated he has not received Dewberry’s engineering plans and asked Ms. Bright to gain access to the old engineering plans.

B. New Business: Subcommittees

By-Law and Personnel Sub-Committee

Mr. Pitsker commented the by-laws and the policies will be updated. He discussed changes on the website and suggested the board include a comparison of rates of other towns inclusive of Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority. He commented on the social media policy and will consult with Mr. Wenner on comparing the policy to other towns. Mr. Furrey asked whether any changes made to the by-laws would require a resolution to be adopted. In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Bright confirmed any by-laws would need to be changed via resolution.

Water Supply Sub-Committee

Mr. Furrey informed that a meeting was held with the ACME plaza property managers and advised another meeting with the township will take place regarding providing water to town center. Ms. Bright stated IBank funding for clean water would have greater debt forgiveness for versus wastewater. Mr. Furry advised ACME has its own well and stated SUEZ provided him with contact information for the new business manager and engineer Tony Vincente with John Hildebrant of SUEZ also being involved in some way on the project. Mr. Furrey advised qualifying for NJIB would entail having a project ready to go with a water storage facility, installing drinking water supply lines and upgrades to well pumps. He stated that a public / private partnership with SUEZ would complicate this endeavor as these partnerships did not tend to fund through the IBank, however if the township pursued its own water supply the funding would be available. He noted municipalities that sell water can attract business and generate profits to help stabilize rates for its stakeholders. Ms. Bright commented that after consultation with the township engineer on the issue of the township drilling its own wells as a water utility, that it would require a regulatory filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for approval and the subsequent mandatory water testing and permitting for compliance.

Finance Charter

Mr. Pitsker discussed the procedures for improvements, new agreements being developed and organizational changes with anticipated estimated cost savings of approximately $70,000.00 to $80,000.00 in expenses annually together with controls in day to day operations via the Sentinel system. Ms. Bright stated that she spoke with the township’s attorney with respect to the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority and the township will be taking the lead on this matter. Mr. Furrey stated former MUA commissioner Thomas McClachrie did a detailed comparison with other towns on the EDU rates and meters for billing and will search for the document and share it with the board. Mr. Pitsker commented that the flat rates should be reduced in the future and to increase the user base.

10. Administrative Update

None at this time.

11. Commissioners’ Comments

Mr. Kearney asked about the status about the application for the Veterans for Foreign Wars (the “VFW”) building. Mr. McDermott informed the VFW building is not open however all mark outs are ready to go and the VFW is waiting for permits from the building department. Mr. Pitsker asked if there should be a wastewater commission report to be incorporated into the minutes. Mr. Furrey advised to table the discussion on this for the next meeting.

12. Chairman’s Comments

Mr. Furrey asked when the RFQ for engineers were due in. In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Bright stated she received four RFQ responses to date that all were due in by August 21st. Ms. Bright commented that the board has the authority to hire an engineer for special projects as set forth in the RFQ scope of work.

13. Executive Session (Closed to the Public)

At this time Mr. Furry stated that there would be no Executive Session.

14. Adjournment

Motion to adjourn was made by Mr. McDermott and seconded by Mr. Pitsker and carried upon unanimous vote at 8:39 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Colette J. Borell
MUA Recording Secretary

Minutes approved: November 5, 2020