Minutes: December 16, 2015

Call to Order

The regular meeting of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (VTMUA) of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 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 15, 2015 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 BuchneyP
Gloria GalloP
James KensekP
Edward SnookP
Joseph TadrickP
Theodore WilsonA
Vincent ZinnoP

Roll Call of Professionals

Attorney Richard Wenner, Engineer Ceren Aralp, Auditor Charles Ferraioli, and Executive Director John Scerbo were present.

1. Oath of Office

VTMUA Attorney Richard Wenner administered the oath of office to new member Joseph Tadrick, who was appointed to the Alternate #2 position on the VTMUA until February 2020.

2. Open Meeting for Public Comment

Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Edward Snook.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney
All were in favor.
The meeting was opened to the public. No one came forward.

3. Close the Meeting for Public Comment

Motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by Edward Snook
All were in favor.
The public portion of the meeting was closed.

4. Consent Agenda

Resolution 15-53: Authorizing the Payment of December 17, 2015 Bills

Motion to approve the bills was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Edward Snook

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

5. Approval of Minutes

December 2, 2015 Regular Meeting

Motion to approve the December 2, 2015 regular meeting minutes was made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Abstain: James Kensek

6. Correspondence

Letter from Patricia Guinta, Block 145, Lot 7, Brookside Florist

Requesting a renewal of extension from connecting to the sewer under the same terms and conditions previously approved by the VTMUA because of existing bedrock. The property owner has paid all connection fees, despite the inability to connect due to the geographic conditions and continues to pay quarterly fees but is not connected to the sewer. The property owner has requested an extension for an additional two years.

Thomas Buchney moved to receive and file the request and authorize Executive Director John Scerbo to draft for the next meeting a resolution specifying the terms and conditions of the extension.

Seconded by Edward Snook

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

7. Other Resolutions

A. Resolution 15-54: Introduction of 2016 Sewer Rates

This resolution increases the rate for one EDU to $980, which is an annual increase of $80. The new rates will be as follows.

  • A studio and 1-bedroom unit is .6 of the cost of an EDU which equals $588.00 annually or $147.00 quarterly which is an increase quarterly of $12.00 for 2016.
  • A 2-bedroom unit is .8 of an EDU which equals $784.00 annually or $196.00 quarterly which is an increase quarterly of $16.00 for 2016.
  • A unit with 3 or more bedrooms is 1 EDU which equals $980.00 annually or $245.00 per quarter which is an increase quarterly of $20.00.

Motion to approve the 2016 sewer rate was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Vincent Zinno

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

B. Resolution 15-55: Introducing the 2016 Budget for the VTMUA

The annual budget as introduced reflects total revenues of $2,172,400.00; total appropriations, including any accumulated deficit if any, of $2,174,400.00; and total unrestricted net position utilized of $0.00. The capital budget as introduced reflects total capital appropriations of $52,000.00 and total unrestricted net position planned to be utilized as funding thereof, of $0.00; and the schedule of rates, fees and other charges in effect will produce sufficient revenues, together with all other anticipated revenues to satisfy all obligations to the holders of bonds of the authority, to meet operating expenses, capital outlays, debt service requirements, and to provide for such reserves, all as may be required by law, regulation or terms of contracts and agreements; and the capital budget/program, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:31-2, does not confer any authorization to raise or expend funds; rather it is a document to be used as part of the said authority's planning and management objectives. Specific authorization to expend funds for the purposes described in this section of the budget must be granted elsewhere by bond resolution, by a project financing agreement, by resolution appropriating funds from the renewal and replacement reserve or other means provided by law. This budget is for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2016 and ending December 31, 2016. The VTMUA will consider the annual budget and capital budget/program for adoption at its January 21, 2016 meeting.

Motion to approve the 2016 VTMUA budget was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

8. Attorney’s Report

No report

9. Auditor’s Report

No report

10. Engineer’s Report

A. Review of New Applications

Appalachian Cafe and Rest Rooms

Engineer Ceren Aralp recommended assessing 4.5 EDUs for this 72-seat restaurant in which there will be no food preparation on site. It is a fast food cafe. There is a grease trap for the restaurant that accommodates 50 gallons per minute.

Motion to approve was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Edward Snook

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

B. Old Business

Valley View Apartments, 1517 Omega Drive

Engineer Ceren Aralp reported that the applicant had previously submitted two unsatisfactory drawings for connection, but she still cannot recommend approval, as she is still not satisfied with the routing of the connection. She discussed the matter with the applicant’s engineer, who will revise the drawings. The matter is currently before the Vernon Township Municipal Court, but it was not heard at the last scheduled court hearing because the applicant was given a 60-day extension for completion to satisfy VTMUA requirements. If the requirements are not satisfied within 60 days, the matter will go back to court.

C. Wastewater Management Plan Amendment

The Vernon Township Council approved a resolution on December 14 to study the feasibility of expanding the sewer area and amending the township’s Wastewater Management Plan (WWMP). Ms. Aralp explained the next step is to apply to the Sussex County Planning Board. The county would put in an application on behalf of the township to the Water Quality Policy Advisory Commission for review. The VTMUA would begin this process in January or February. The VTMUA also needs county freeholder board and state DEP approval. She said the best-case scenario for getting the approvals would be around October 2016.

Around 2007, the township had applied for regional center designation, which included the McAfee area, but the DEP had recommended only a condensed town center designation at the time, and McAfee was removed from the proposed sewered area. The county health department has reported that there have been more than 50% of the septic systems along Route 94 failing, resulting in the VTMUA taking another look at the feasibility of expanding the sewer area to sewer these properties. Chairman Vincent Zinno noted the VTMUA is not asking for expansion of the town center area, only expansion of the WWMP.

Ms. Aralp also discussed the possible inclusion of the Hidden Valley homes and condominiums and the Vernon Crossing areas in the amended WWMP and said the VTMUA would need to make a decision soon before making application for the expansion review. Once the application is begun, she said, they don’t want to go back and add areas then. It would be best to do everything at once, she said.

Chairman Zinno said he has had private homeowners along the route approach him and ask if they could be included in the WWMP because of their small lots that would not accommodate new septic systems. Ms. Aralp confirmed she had also received questions from private homeowners who wanted to previously be included but had not been. The DEP had also suggested other areas. Vincent Zinno recommended putting together a subcommittee of the VTMUA to research the matter.

Ms. Aralp noted there is a March deadline for putting in an application with the trust for a loan for the project. The time frame for moving forward with the process should coincide with that deadline, she said. Auditor Charles Ferraioli confirmed the importance of the deadline.

Mr. Zinno suggested offering homeowners payment plans if their properties are included in the expanded plan. There were very few homes impacted by the first phase of the sewer area, he said.

Edward Snook noted that even if the septics of these private homes have not failed, should the property owners seek to sell their homes they might learn at that time that the septics are failing or in danger of failing and will have to upgrade at that time. Including those properties in the sewer area at this time might be the more prudent thing to do, he said. Some of those small properties have no room for new septics, he said. Ms. Aralp noted septic regulations are more stringent today and said offering a payment plan and other options for homeowners would be a good idea. Mr. Zinno suggested giving a two-year notification prior to the requirement of connection with an additional year to actually connect, so this would extend the time period for financial hardships as well. Thomas Buchney also suggested offering the 50% discount for property owners connecting by a certain date, as they offered in the first phase of sewer construction.

Mr. Scerbo recommended putting together a packet with information for homeowners about the sewer connection, payment plans, and even possibly contacting banks in the township to suggest recommending personal loans to homeowners at reasonable interest rates. He said the connection fees for private homeowners could total about $15,000. Offering such loans would make the situation much more amenable to private homeowners rather than granting hundreds of payment plans, he said. In the current phase of sewer construction there were only about eight hardship payment plans required, he said. Two of those paid expeditiously as approved, he said, but there was a lot of action required by the township to get payment from the others, including violations and court hearings. The township should not act as the institution in giving payment plans, he said, suggesting the better alternate would be to work with the local banks to provide low interest loans and other options for the homeowners. He suggested scheduling a meeting with the banks to discuss the matter. Vincent Zinno also noted they would not want to have the responsibility of putting the homes on tax sales for payment defaults. He suggested working with local contractors as well to get help for homeowners whose homes would be affected.

Mr. Zinno also said homeowners in the Sun Valley area, across from Legends Hotel, had approached him and told him about their failing septics asked him to be included in the WWMP if sewers would be extended to that area of the township. Legends Hotel is also a consideration, he said, since their package treatment plant might be in jeopardy and might want to be included in the WWMP. He suggested inquiring of the county health department about the status of septic systems in that area.

Ms. Aralp said the VTMUA should have a meeting just to discuss the areas to be included in the proposed expansion review. She needs to have a complete map of what areas they are proposing before she can make application, she said.

Mr. Scerbo noted that when the township’s health department moved to the county, all township records were supposed to be digitized, but he is not sure this has ever been done so it would take some time to research this information. He said it took him more than two weeks to get answers from the county health department previously. He suggested determining exactly what lots and blocks to be included before he approaches the county health department.

Chairman Zinno discussed creating the subcommittee of the VTMUA to review the block and lots that could be included. The subcommittee would consist of commissioners Edward Snook, Gloria Gallo, and Joseph Tadrick.

A motion to approve the subcommittee was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Further Discussion: None

All commissioners were in favor.

VTMUA Attorney Richard Wenner noted that three commissioners on the subcommittee would constitute a quorum, so legal notification would be required for all meetings. Mr. Wenner suggested putting Executive Director John Scerbo on the subcommittee, relieving Joseph Tadrick of the appointment to the subcommittee. Therefore, the subcommittee consists of Mr. Scerbo, Edward Snook, and Gloria Gallo.

James Kensek moved to revise his original motion to exclude Joseph Tadrick and include the executive director to the subcommittee.
Seconded by Vincent Zinno

Further Discussion: None

All commissioners were in favor of the revised motion.

11. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director John Scerbo stated tonight was commissioner James Kensek’s last meeting on the VTMUA. He thanked Mr. Kensek for the ease of working with him and for his contribution to the VTMUA. He recommended getting a plaque for Mr. Kensek and asking him to come to the January meeting to receive it.

A motion to approve Mr. Scerbo’s recommendation was made by Vincent Zinno.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Further Discussion: None

All commissioners were in favor.

12. Commissioner Comments

Commissioner James Kensek suggested that since he will no longer be on the VTMUA, commissioner Joseph Tadrick should take over his responsibility of reviewing the bills lists for the VTMUA during 2016.

Commissioner Thomas Buchney discussed the use of county SCMUA equipment, primarily their pump truck, for township use. He said with the amount of money the VTMUA spends on pumping they should again consider the option with the SCMUA. John Scerbo said he looked into it at 2013, and at that time the SCMUA had said they reduced their staff and f they did not have the manpower available when the need arose, they would not have someone on the spur of the moment if an emergency arises. He will look into the situation again, he said. Mr. Scerbo said a good amount of their pumping expenses have been reduced because of an agreement with a local vendor that works for the Minerals Hotel.

13. Chairman Comments

Chairman Vincent Zinno thanked everyone for another successful year during 2015 and thanked James Kensek for his service to the VTMUA and to the community.

Adjournment

Having no additional business, James Kensek moved to adjourn the meeting at 8 p.m.
Edward Snook seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 8 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on January 21, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Vernon Township MUA Secretary