Minutes: December 20, 2012

The regular meeting of the Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey.

Statement

Adequate notice of this meeting had been provided to the public and the press on July 27, 2012 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 BuchneyNP
Barbara ChorzepaP
Doug DobrzynskiNP
Gloria Frato-GalloP
James KensekP
Vincent ZinnoP

Also Present

John Ursin, Esq.
Chuck Ferraioli, Auditor
Ceren Aralp, Engineer
Mike Furrey, Operator
Aida Cahill, Secretary

Salute to the Flag

Mr. Zinno led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.

Mr. Zinno made an announcement that Aida Cahill, MUA secretary had to leave for a medical emergency and therefore copies of the agenda were not available. Mr. Ursin stated that the agenda had been posted and he read from his copy so as to inform the public of the agenda items.

Open to Public Comments

Gary Martinsen spoke regarding grease traps for restaurants. Mr. Ursin stated that the MUA Rules and Regulations contained information on grease traps.

Len Coloccia questioned the MUA Rules and Regulations regarding appointments to the authority. Mr. Ursin stated that the language in the rules was copied word for word from the state statute. Mr. Coloccia questioned exemptions of the firehouse and board of education. Mr. Ursin stated that this was a subject under consideration. Mr. Ferraioli stated that those buildings were not connected to the sewer system. Refunds for over assessments were questioned. Mr. Coloccia questioned if lift stations were listed as assets of United Water. Mr. Ursin stated that they were not. Language of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) petition for discontinuance was questioned. Mr. Ursin stated that the VTMUA was not involved in the petition but United Water was.

Noreen Moran stated her feeling that it is unfair for the residents of GGV to pay for SCMUA debt service.

Kenny Atchinson, owner of the Mixing Bowl, stated that all residents should pay for the sewers, similar to school taxes.

Jeff Kutcha questioned what the burden would be on GGV residents for sewer over the next five years. It was suggested that another way of funding the SCMUA debt needed to be explored.

Tom Kelly questioned who decided to buy the sewer system. Mr. Ursin stated that it was the town council and there were public meetings concerning the issue over a four year period of time.

Howard Greenblatt spoke regarding information he was given by Trenton regarding number of bedrooms in a dwelling. Mr. Ursin stated that the information Mr. Greenblatt was given was incorrect. Mr. Zinno explained that the authority would be discussing the loft issue later in the meeting. Mr. Zinno also requested that Mr. Greenblatt be respectful when he goes to the MUA office, as there had been inappropriate behavior on several occasions.

It was noted by Mr. Zinno that the MUA was listening to the public’s concerns.

Motion to close meeting to the public.
Moved: Chorzepa
Second: Kensek
All were in favor

Closed to Public Comments

Resolution #12-25 Authorizing a Review Fee of $200 for Simple Connection Projects

Moved: Frato-Gallo
Second: Chorzepa

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Chorzepa, Frato-Gallo, Kensek, Zinno
Nays: None
Motion carried.

Resolution #12-25: Resolution of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority Regarding Review Fees

WHEREAS, the VTMUA processes applications for new connections;

WHEREAS, the VTMUA Rules and Regulations require an escrow to be determined on a case-by-case basis to provide sufficient funds for the VTMUA Engineer to review the applications;

WHEREAS, it would be more efficient to have a set review fee for applications to connect single family homes or other small commercial properties;

WHEREAS, the VTMUA Engineer has been consulted regarding the approximate cost of reviewing and analyzing these types of applications;

NOW THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED by the Commissioners of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority that the VTMUA Secretary is authorized to accept a fee of $200 as a flat fee for the analysis and review by the VTMUA Engineer associated with the connection of single family homes or small commercial properties.

NOW THEREFORE IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED that the Clerk of Board shall keep this Resolution in a binder with the adopted Rules and Regulations as an official record of the VTMUA.

Items for Action

Motion to approve special meeting minutes from 10/4/12 and regular meeting minutes from 11/29/12.
Moved: Frato-Gallo
Second: Kensek

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Chorzepa, Frato-Gallo, Kensek, Zinno
Nays: None
Motion carried.

Motion to approve regular meeting minutes from 11/19/12.
Moved: Frato-Gallo
Second: Kensek

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Frato-Gallo, Kensek, Zinno
Abstain: Chorzepa
Nays: None
Motion carried.

Correspondence

Boehler Engineering (Dairy Queen) and Healthy Thymes

Boehler engineering (Dairy Queen) and Healthy Thymes submitted a request for connection to the sanitary sewer. Ms. Aralp advised that there was no infrastructure in this area to hook up to. The recommendation from Ms. Aralp was for the applicants to contact a professional to submit an application for connection to the nearest manhole. Mr. Ursin stated that the applicants needed to be referred to the county planning board to ensure that the current wastewater management plan would allow their connection. Mr. Aralp will draft a letter to the applicants with the above recommendations.

KDA Investments (Mixing Bowl)

This was a financial hardship letter. Mr. Zinno stated that the MUA was actively looking for opportunities with SCMUA and local lending institutions to ease the financial burden on existing commercial businesses in the community. Ms. Aralp stated that since the rounding up of the EDU to the nearest 1/4, the EDUs for this establishment would be 7.25, thereby lowering the connection fee.

SCMUA Rate Schedule

Mr. Ferraioli stated that he included these numbers in the budget, however this was not the final SCMUA Rate Schedule.

Mr. Zinno stated that SCMUA connection fees were going up, however they have agreed to use the old rate for existing Vernon sewer applications until February 2013.

Auditor Report

Mr. Ferraioli stated that the budget would not be adopted at this meeting. The proposed budget reflected .6 EDUs for studio and 1 bedroom units at $504 per year, .8 EDUs for 2 bedroom units at $672 per year and 1full EDU for $840 per year. It was noted that these were the same user rates as that of 2012.

Public Comment on the 2013 Budget

Craig Thompson questioned if individuals owners were being charged sewer user fees from the Appalachian Hotel. Mr. Zinno stated that they were.

Len Coloccia spoke regarding lofts and cellars.

Jeff Kutcha questioned how additional SCMUA debt was being paid for. Mr. Ferraioli stated that is was through connection fees.

Chris Roberts questioned why rates were not decreasing in 2013 if there were additional connections to the sewer. Mr. Ferraioli advised that expenses were going up.

Craig Thompson spoke regarding vacant land owners in town center being responsible for connection fees.

Motion to close meeting to the public.
Moved: Kensek
Second: Frato-Gallo
All were in favor.

Mr. Ferraioli stated that the 2013 budget would be adopted at the January 24, 2013 meeting.

Bills List

Tabled until the next meeting.

Engineer Report

Ms. Aralp advised that all of the applications that had been submitted were reviewed since the MUA voted on the EDU calculations being rounded to the next quarter instead of whole number. Ms. Aralp reported on the pump station inspections that she had completed. The report contained information on pump station #1 being in operation, receiving minimal flow and being very good condition. It was noted that the alarm system did not exist in the building and should be put in as soon as possible, for security as well as pump station emergencies. Pump station #2 was reported to be old and in poor condition. Ms. Aralp explained that this pump station was on schedule to be upgraded by Mountain Creek. The report further detailed that the grinder was at the end of its useful life and that the grinder alarm was not functioning. The ventilation systems were said to be failing. Ms. Aralp recommended that upgrades to this pump station needed to be done as soon as possible. Mr. Ursin stated that the pump station was on schedule to be upgraded during the summer of 2013. Further inspection revealed that pump station #3 was also very old. It was noted that the hatches were a safety hazard an there was not good access. Recommendations were made to replace enclosure for safe maintenance and a high water alarm to alert operators if there was a problem. This station was considered to be oversized and should be replaced with a smaller station that is closed to the elements. Ms. Aralp also spoke regarding the current maps being incomplete and a new map being needed.

Ms. Frato-Gallo noted that on her inspection of pump station #3, the facility was not safe, having low fencing and needing signage.

Ms. Chorzepa questioned why there were no alarms in pump station #1. Mr. Zinno stated that provisions were made on the blueprints, however the alarms were never installed.

Operator Report

Mr. Furrey discussed an end of year report that was requested by Mr. Zinno. Most of the items addressed in the report were similar to the engineer’s report. Mr. Furrey recommended that the township get a hauling license to be used when the stations needed to be pumped out. Mr. Furrey noted that pump station #3 had a history of overflow and needed to be pumped out from time to time. It was further suggested that the MUA purchase an inventory of pumps to have on hand for emergencies. Mr. Furrey stated that the DPW was doing an excellent job with maintenance of the sewer system.

Items for Discussion

  • It was announced that there would be a February reorganization meeting to codify the Rules and Regulations and to appoint personnel, professionals, chairperson and vice chairperson.
  • Billing would be changing for 2013. The look of the bill would change, having one bill with four stubs for quarterly billing.
  • EDU count for loft dwellings in Stonehill. Mr. Ursin stated that one of the MUA’s options was to accept the bedroom count list provided by the condo association, unless errors were found, further analysis was needed. Another option would be to hire an inspector. Ms. Chorzepa stated her feelings that a loft not be considered a bedroom until further inspection or analysis. Ms. Frato-Gallo agreed to accept the condo association’s list while reserving the right to revise it when needed.

Motion to direct that the water and sewer collector in the finance office to use the list submitted by the condo association to give bedroom counts for the 2013 bills with the caveat that they were subject to inspection or further analysis.

Mr. Thompson spoke regarding modifications of bedrooms and the possibility of errors on the condo’s list. Mr. Ursin stated that errors would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Mr. Zinno questioned how these changes would affect the 2013 budget. Mr. Ferraioli stated that he would need a new EDU count.

Moved: Kensek
Second: Chorzepa

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Chorzepa, Frato-Gallo, Kensek, Zinno
Nays: None

Adjustments for 2012 condo bills with respect to the loft issue would be discussed after further evaluation.

Authority Comments

Mr. Zinno discussed the possibility of offering the sewer users an online payment option. Mr. Zinno further discussed how the MUA billing cycle might adversely affect the tax collector’s schedule for the tax sale. Mr. Ursin and Mr. Ferraioli did not think the MUA billing cycle was an issue regarding the tax sale.

Motion to go into executive session for the reason of personnel issues at 10:15.
Moved: Chorzepa
Second: Kensek
All were in favor.

Motion to reopen public meeting.
Moved: Chorzepa
Second: Kensek
All were in favor.

Motion to ask for a Hatch Mott MacDonald contract for 2013.
Moved: Kensek
Second: Chorzepa

A roll call vote was taken:
Ayes: Chorzepa, Kensek, Zinno
Nays: Frato-Gallo
Motion carried.

Motion to adjourn at 11:00 p.m.
Moved: Kensek
Second: Chorzepa
All were in favor.

Respectfully submitted,
Aida Cahill, Secretary
Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority

Date approved: January 24, 2013