Minutes: December 21, 2017

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 Thursday, December 21, 2017 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 February 21, 2017 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 BuchneyA
Gloria GalloP
Paul KearneyP
John PerryP
Edward SegerP
Edward SnookP
Kristin WheatonA

Executive Director John Scerbo reported Chairman Thomas Buchney had an engagement this evening and could not attend.

Roll Call of Professionals

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

1. Public Comment

Gloria Gallo moved to open the meeting to the public.
Paul Kearney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was opened to the public.

Pat Lasorsa of Great Gorge Village came forward. She asked how many total ratepayers there are on the sewer line and how many are from Great Gorge Village. She asked a number of questions about the sewer system, including whether the township has the authority to abolish the MUA overseeing the sewer system. She also questioned what benefit to the entire township the system has been and what Great Gorge Village users have benefitted from the sewer system. Ms. Lasorsa was told she could get answers to all of her questions from Executive Director John Scerbo at his office at the municipal center during regular business hours.

Mr. Scerbo addressed Ms. Lasorsa’s question about the creation of the MUA as a sewer authority. He said townships create utility authorities because they recognize that water and sewer are vital assets to the growth and well being of a community, and by creating authorities to run the utilities they take it out of the political realm that could occur within a governing body and put the focus on the authority in charge of maintaining it and growing it appropriately within the growth and aptitude of the community. He said a municipal government does have the authority to disband an MUA, but it would be contrary to what the statute suggests to take it out of the political realm. If a municipality were to disband the MUA then all of the taxpayers, not just the sewer users, would absorb the tax burden.

Close Meeting for Public Comment

Edward Snook moved to close the meeting to the public.
John Perry seconded the motion.
All were in favor.

2. Consent Agenda

A. Resolution 17-44: Authorizing the Payment of Bills for November and December 19, 2017

John Perry moved to approve Resolution 17-44 for payment of the bills.
Gloria Gallo seconded the motion.

Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

B. Approval of October 19, 2017 Minutes

John Perry moved to approve the October 19, 2017 minutes.
Paul Kearney seconded the motion.

Discussion: Edward Seger said he wanted the minutes to include his request that Executive Director John Scerbo notify the commissioners when he is going to conduct an audit or inspection so the commissioners could accompany him to help the commissioners better understand what is going on. Mr. Seger also asked to change a reference to “High Ridge” to “Cedar Ridge.” High Ridge was mentioned in error.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

3. Correspondence

None

4. Auditor and CFO Reports—2018 Budget and 2018 Sewer Rate

A. Resolution 17-45: Introduction of the 2018 Budget

Auditor Charles Ferraioli said they need to introduce the 2018 VTMUA budget tonight and a public hearing would be held at the next meeting. The proposed 2018 budget is $2,738,335, a $369,019 increase over the 2017 budget of $2,369,316. The following additional expenses drive the increase for 2018.

SCMUA $100,000
Wastewater Management Plan $40,000
Engineering for Pump Station $150,000 (reimbursed by Mountain Creek)
Legal (MC Bankruptcy) $96,000

The proposed EDU rate for 2018 is $1,180. This is an annual increase of $100. He said in 2016 the VTMUA had 1606 EDUs and in 2017 it had 1612. Mr. Ferraioli said the key to balancing the budget is still bringing on additional EDUs.

John Perry moved to approve the 2018 budget.
Gloria Gallo seconded the motion.

Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

B. Resolution 17-46: Introduction of the 2018 Sewer Rate

Gloria Gallo moved to approve the 2018 sewer rate.
John Perry seconded the motion.

Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

5. Attorney’s Report

RFP Results

Attorney Richard Wenner said that on December 4, 2017 he received and opened one bid for the operation and maintenance of the sewer system, and the amount was above what was budgeted. He said the RFP from the sole bidder was impressive and very well done but came in tens of thousands of dollars in excess of what the VTMUA had budgeted. Mr. Wenner said they could put it out again for bid if they chose to do so. John Scerbo said he and VTMUA chairman Thomas Buchney met with the mayor, who indicated he would agree to a contract with the township DPW retroactive to February 2017 and through 2018, with an option to renew in 2019. Mr. Scerbo recommended the commissioners support that contract with the DPW.

Resolution 17-47: Resolving the Disposition of the 2017 RFP and Rejecting the Sole Bid

Gloria Gallo moved to approve the disposition of the RFP.
Edward Snook seconded the motion.

Discussion: No further discussion

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

6. Engineer’s Report

A. Review of New Applications

1. Historical Society Building—Block 141, Lot 13

Green Team Realty was the successful bidder for the historical society building at 293 Route 94, Vernon, which is owned by the Vernon Township Board of Education.

Engineer Ceren Aralp recommended .75 EDU for this 1476-square foot building that will be used as a realty office. The square footage includes a first and second floor and an unfinished basement.

Edward Snook moved to approve the EDU for Green Team.
John Perry seconded the motion.

Discussion: Edward Seger asked if the building had a hookup yet. Ms. Aralp said it did not. Gloria Gallo said they had initially suggested 1 EDU for this building as a real estate office and questioned why it was changed to .75. Paul Kearney questioned why the hookup had not been required prior to the sale of the building. John Scerbo said the ownership of the building went back and forth from the BOE to the township and back to the BOE. Mr. Scerbo said he had sent letters to the BOE, indicating a timeframe by which the building had to be hooked up. Mr. Scerbo said the BOE had the opportunity to receive a 50% reduction in the hookup fees had they connected within the timeframe. With the building bouncing back and forth, it never got connected, he said. Mr. Scerbo said he had a conversation with the mayor, who said Green Team, the prospective purchaser of the 293 Route 94 BOE building, is in discussion with the BOE regarding why they should have to pay $175,000 for the purchase of the building when it did not have the hookup whereas the other BOE building on Route 515 had water from the fire department and also sewer connection already. Mr. Scerbo said the BOE had submitted plans for hooking up both buildings but connected only the Route 515 building. Edward Seger questioned whether there are other buildings that have not yet hooked up. Mr. Scerbo said there are several properties and buildings not hooked up as required, including the Faline Building that the township owns but has not connected to the sewers.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

2. Vernon Deli—Block 141, Lot 15.03

Motion to ratify the commissioners’ prior electronic vote for this property to allow the Vernon Deli to open as soon as possible, approving the original 7 EDUs given to the building by electronic vote.

Edward Snook moved to ratify the electronic vote.
John Perry seconded the motion.

Discussion: No further discussion

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Paul Kearney, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

B. Old Business

None

C. Status of Asset Management Loan Application

Engineer Ceren Aralp said the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) agreed to move the application under the township’s name and fund the project. Township CFO Elke Yetter said the NJEIT is requesting a letter from the township governing body saying the township is willing to go forward on it. The township would then have to pass a bond ordinance for that amount to authorize the debt.

D. Status of Sewer Expansion Study and Project Schedule

Engineer Ceren Aralp said the application is set to go to the freeholder board for review on January 10. She and John Scerbo will be attending the meeting to answer any questions they might have. Following the freeholders’ approval they can proceed with the NJDEP.

7. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director John Scerbo reported on the technology that provides agendas to the audience on screen. He feels it would not be worth the $4,000 cost and recommended against adopting it because it only provides the agenda and there is no real dynamic or live update ability on screen. It is just basically an agenda on a screen, which merely eliminates placing agendas on the table or in front of the commissioners.

Mr. Scerbo also reported that pump station #3 has been changed from a two-rail system to a single-rail system with a cantilever flange so they can use any type pump.

8. Commissioners’ Comments

Edward Snook said at their last meeting in October it was stated that in the Shoptiques Consignment Shop on Route 515, a building owned by Bruce Zaretsky, the upstairs is used only for storage and is not included in the EDU square footage count. Mr. Snook said the upstairs is used for retail and is not storage. Mr. Scerbo said the upstairs is used as storage for consignment items that they have not brought downstairs to the main floor. Mr. Snook said that is not true, and he has been at the business and has the second floor used for sales. The upstairs is used as retail space, he said. Gloria Gallo said buildings should be assessed based on their total square footage and not by what the building owners or renter say they are using them for. Edward Snook said he wants to make sure that everyone who owns a building is being treated the same.

Paul Kearney questioned inspections of the pipelines and access to manholes behind the PAL building. He said when the township was clearing walking paths behind there, manholes were on the path and not readily accessible. Mr. Scerbo said it is interesting Mr. Kearney should bring this up because Mr. Scerbo had just had a conversation about that exact same matter with the mayor. Mr. Scerbo said every manhole has a green plastic marker and evidently in this particular area where the path was being cut it had not been cleaned out and the manholes were not visible. He said every manhole is mapped and also GPS marked.

9. Chairman’s Comments

Acting Chairman Edward Seger suggested creating a database of connections and EDUs. He also said they should work on the creation of a system for their documents electronically. They need to work on that to come up with a system, he said.

10. Executive Session

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 permits the exclusion of the public in certain circumstances; and

WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority of the Township of Vernon as follows.

1. The public shall be excluded from discussion of and action upon the hereinafter-specified subject matter.

2. The general nature of the subject matter to be discussed is litigation and personnel matters.

John Perry moved to go into executive session at 8:18 p.m.
Edward Snook seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Edward Seger, and Paul Kearney
Nays: None

11. Close Executive Session and Return to Public Session

Edward Snook moved to close executive session at 8:58 p.m.
Paul Kearney seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Gloria Gallo, John Perry, Edward Snook, Edward Seger, and Paul Kearney
Nays: None

The VTMUA went back into public session at 8:58 p.m.

Adjournment

John Perry moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:58 p.m.
Edward Snook seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:58 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on January 18, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Vernon Township MUA Secretary