Minutes: February 16, 2017

Call to Order

The regular meeting of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority (VTMUA) of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:17 p.m. on Thursday, February 16, 2017 in the Vernon Senior 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 19, 2016 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 GalloA
John Perry (arrived at 7:52)P
Edward SegerP
Edward SnookP
Kristen WheatonP

Gloria Gallo was away and unable to attend the meeting.

Roll Call of Professionals

Attorney Joseph Salvadore, Engineer Ceren Aralp, and Executive Director John Scerbo were present.

1. Oaths of Office

Kristen Wheaton and Edward Seger took the oaths of office for their terms on the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority. Attorney Joseph Salvadore administered the oaths of office. Kristen Wheaton will serve as Alternate #1 in four-year term to expire in February 2021. Edward Seger will serve as a regular member for a five-year term to expire in February 2022.

*Mayor Harry Shortway later brought John Perry to the meeting, announcing he had just been appointed upstairs at the Township Council meeting where he had already been sworn in. Mr. Perry will serve as a regular member of the VTMUA, and his term will expire in February 2021.

2. Election of Chairman

Edward Snook moved to nominate Thomas Buchney for VTMUA chairman.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.

Discussion: Kristen Wheaton said she would like to wait until the next meeting to vote for a chairperson because she has not met Mr. Buchney and want to know if he would affirm the nomination. Edward Snook said Mr. Buchney had affirmed he was willing to serve as chairman.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Edward Snook and Edward Seger
Nays: None
Abstentions: Kristen Wheaton

John Scerbo noted Ms. Wheaton’s reason for abstention; otherwise, the abstention would count in the affirmative.

3. Election of Vice-Chairman

Edward Snook moved to nominate Edward Seger for VTMUA vice-chairman.
Kristen Wheaton seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Edward Snook, Edward Seger, and Kristen Wheaton
Nays: None

Vice-Chairman Edward Seger then headed the meeting as chairman in Thomas Buchney’s absence.

4. Open Meeting for Public Comment

Edward Snook moved to open the meeting to the public.
Kristen Wheaton seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was opened to the public.

5. Close Meeting for Public Comment

Seeing no one from the public come forward to comment, Edward Snook moved to close the meeting to the public.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was closed to the public.

6. Consent Agenda

A. Resolution 17-07: Designating the Official Newspapers for 2017

B. Resolution 17-08: Schedule of Meetings for 2017 through February 2018

C. Resolution 17-09: Authority to Spend Funds and Sign Checks for the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority

D. Resolution 17-10: Adopting the 2016 VTMUA Rules and Regulations as Amended During 2016, as the 2017 Rules and Regulations of the VTMUA

E. Resolution 17-11: Appointment for Professional Services—Auditor

F. Resolution 17-12: Appointment for Professional Services—Engineer

G. Resolution 17-13: Appointment of Professional Services—Attorney

H. Resolution 17-14: Authorizing the Award of Professional Services Contracts and the Advertising of Same

I. Resolution 17-15: Authorizing a Contractor for 2017 for Recording Secretary

J. Resolution 17-16: Resolution Creating a Fee for Dishonored Checks

K. Resolution 17-18: Resolution Authorizing Payment of Regulated Bills

L. Resolution 17-19: Resolution to Adopt a Cash Management Plan for 2017

M. Resolution 17-20: Authorizing the Payment of Bills for February 16, 2017

Edward Snook moved to approve the resolutions.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.

Discussion: Kristen Wheaton asked for a copy of the VTMUA Rules and Regulations. John Scerbo said be would provide them to her. She also requested that in the future the bills list include additional information for the services provided for each item.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Edward Snook, John Perry, and Edward Seger
Nays: Kristen Wheaton

7. Resolution 17-17: Authorizing Payment of Non-Discretionary Emergent Bills Less than $500

Kristen Wheaton moved to table this resolution to the March meeting.
Edward Snook seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Edward Snook, John Perry, Kristen Wheaton, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

8. Approval of Minutes

January 19, 2017 Regular Meeting

Edward Snook moved to approve the January 19, 2017 regular meeting minutes.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.

Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Edward Snook and Edward Seger
Nays: None
Abstentions: John Perry and Kristen Wheaton

9. Receipt and Filing of Correspondence

A. Letter Dated February 1, 2017 and Hand Delivered February 2, 2017 from Mayor Shortway Regarding VTMUA Operation and Management Agreement

B. Letter Dated February 2, 2017 from John Scerbo to Mayor Harry Shortway in Response to the Mayor’s February 1 Letter

C. Letter Dated February 2, 2017 from John Scerbo to the Vernon Township DPW Complimenting the DPW on the Work Performed During Transition to Hardyston

D. Document Received from the Township Clerk Regarding the Appointment of Edward Seger to Seat III Term Ending in 2022 and Kristin G. Wheaton as Alternate 1 for Term Ending in 2021

E. E-Mail Received from Mayor Shortway Regarding Joseph Tadrick’s Resignation from the VTMUA

Kristen Wheaton moved to receive and file the correspondence.
Edward Snook seconded the motion.
All were in favor.

Discussion on Correspondence

John Scerbo explained the February 1, 2017 letter from Mayor Shortway states the mayor’s desire to consider an interlocal agreement again between the township DPW and the VTMUA for operation of the sewers. If the VTMUA agrees to the interlocal agreement, the DPW would have to begin immediately because Hardyston Township pulled out of its previously arranged interlocal agreement with the VTMUA after Mayor Shortway spoke with Hardyston Township Manager Marianne Smith.

The new agreement with the township DPW would include the VTMUA paying for the salaries and benefits, including pension payments, for two DPW employees who would be assigned to the VTMUA. Previously, the VTMUA only paid an hourly rate and there was no calculation for benefits. Mr. Scerbo said he was also contacted by a DPW union representative, who informed him that if there is a negotiation between the township and the VTMUA for the use of an employee’s license, the DPW must be in on the negotiations as well. The VTMUA does not have union employees and would require the negotiation be between the township and the DPW. VTMUA Richard Wenner is in the process of stipulating that to the township.

Edward Seger said the township is going to have to determine what the cost would be and what they are going to charge the VTMUA. Mr. Scerbo said the VTMUA will have to get an operator for the sewer system that offers a stable environment over a long period of time.

Mr. Scerbo said the township had put the VTMUA on notice that the DPW was no longer going to service the VTMUA as of February 1, 2017. The VTMUA then negotiated a service agreement with Hardyston Township, and the agreement was going very well, he said. When Mr. Scerbo and then VTMUA Chairman Edward Snook had conversations with Hardyston, Hardyston was very willing to do the job but they made it clear they wanted it to be kept free from any political fallout that went on in Vernon, but then someone filed an OPRA request for the negotiations and documentation associated with the interlocal agreement with Hardyston. Mr. Scerbo said those documents were deliberative until such time a contact had been drafted. At the same time the OPRA request was made, Vernon Business Administrator Charles Voelker also had a conversation with Hardyston Township Manager Marianne Smith. Ms. Smith reported to Mr. Scerbo that she was told by Vernon Township not to take it personally and that she was simply “collateral damage.” Upon hearing that on the first day Hardyston was to begin operating the Vernon system, Ms. Smith told Mr. Scerbo she was going to protect her township from collateral damage, and she pulled out of the interlocal contract. Ms. Smith informed Mr. Scerbo that she would leave the proposal on the table to operate the Vernon system and at such time in the future she could get a statement from both the VTMUA and the Township of Vernon that they both agree on Hardyston running the Vernon system, she would be happy to go forward with it at that time. Mr. Scerbo said everything was going well with Hardyston Township until “the rug was pulled out” from underneath the VTMUA.

Mr. Scerbo noted there was a spill of about 5,000 gallons just a week later, on February 5, at Pump Station 2, which the DPW had cleared.

Mr. Scerbo added that the VTMUA has a 12-month agreement with Vernon Township for the DPW to again operate the sewer utility, with a six-month opt-out notification. He feels once the contract is drafted with the township, the township is likely to soon notify them that they are going to opt out. In the meantime, the VTMUA will put the operation of the sewer system out to bid again. Mr. Scerbo said the VTMUA should also consider hiring its own staff to operate the sewers.

Kristin Wheaton asked what would be the cost for the township operating the sewers. Mr. Scerbo said it is still in negotiation but it is likely to be about $29.71 an hour per man plus about an extra 35 percent for pension and another 36 percent for benefits. It would probably be a total of about $60 or more an hour.

10. Other Resolutions

A. Resolution 17-21: Amending the 2017 Capital Budget

This resolution amends the adopted capital budget of January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017 by adding the remaining money in the letter of credit to the budget in the event an emergency major capital improvement necessary to the sewer utility.

B. Resolution 17-23: Endorsing the Application for Asset Management Plan Development Loan Program

This resolution enables the VTMUA to apply for a grant to do asset management plans that would identify areas in the system in need of repair or replacement.

Edward Snook moved to approve the two resolutions.
John Perry seconded the motion.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Edward Snook, John Perry, Kristen Wheaton, and Edward Seger
Nays: None

11. Attorney’s Report

Attorney Joseph Salvadore, substituting for VTMUA attorney Richard Wenner who is ill, said he had no report from Mr. Wenner other than to say Mr. Wenner is working on the negotiation between the VTMUA and the township for operating the sewer utility.

12. Auditor’s Report

Auditor Charles Ferraioli was not present. Mr. Scerbo suggested Mr. Ferraioli meet with new members Kristen Wheaton and John Perry to go over the financial projections Mr. Ferraioli had made at the end of last year for the sewer authority.

Edward Seger asked about Mr. Ferraioli’s impression or comments regarding a study the township council did on the potential of expanding the sewer service area. The study suggests it would not be feasible to expand. Mr. Scerbo said Mr. Ferraioli is reserving judgment on whether the study is factual and correct until he learns what the township used as facts that would support the findings of the study. The assumptions associated with the details of what the study was built upon are not clear, he said. He questioned where they came up with the financial data and the value of the infrastructure.

13. Engineer’s Report

A. New Applications—None

B. Old Business

1. Valley View Apartments

Ceren Aralp reported Valley View Apartments is currently in the process of finalizing connection to the sewer.

2. Mountain Creek

Ms. Aralp reported having a meeting today with representatives from Mountain Creek and their engineers from Dewberry, and they discussed the Sand Hill pump station upgrades. They discussed site layouts where the pump station would be located. They also discussed flows and requested Mountain Creek submit to the VTMUA the projected flows. Mountain Creek will put the information together shortly and submit it to Ms. Aralp because that information is critical to starting the permitting process necessary for the upgrades.

Ms. Aralp added that while it was understood the township would apply for the loans through the trust fund for the project and the VTMUA would have the design done, Mr. Scerbo has reported to her that the town does not agree to do the loan application. Mountain Creek was not aware of this, she said. Mr. Scerbo said the township council’s position was that all other developers have to pay their way, so why should the township help Mountain Creek? Mr. Scerbo was told the township would not agree to go forward with the trust fund.

Mr. Scerbo also reported Mountain Creek now has a business partner for one of its projects in its core development plan. That business partner owns 5500 hotel rooms in New York City and is in the process of looking for a location to build an industrial laundry. Mountain Creek saw this as an opportunity to lower its responsibility for the deficits by joining forces with this business partner and to try to convince the town to do a land swap to obtain the 12 acres on the other side of Wings Asian Fusion where they would like to build the laundry, for which Mountain Creek is willing to drill another well to get the water necessary for the laundry to run. The laundry is expected to use about 144,000 gallons a day, and that gallonage would significantly reduce Mountain Creek’s obligation for the166,000 gallons for which they have reserved ownership. Mr. Scerbo said the development of the 12 acres is not Mountain Creek property, so it would probably wind up coming out of the 99,000-gallon allocation the township has for the town center.

14. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director John Scerbo said he had no further report, as he had already discussed everything during the meeting.

15. Commissioners’ Comments

Commissioner Edward Snook said he heard the mayor and council were going to have a presentation at its next meeting by Remington & Vernick, the firm that did the study on the feasibility of expanding the sewer service area. He questioned what time the VTMUA would have to ask questions of the firm about the study. The presentation is proposed for the March 13 township council meeting, but that date has not been confirmed.

John Scerbo suggested they authorize him to write a letter to the mayor saying they would like to have a meeting between Remington & Vernick and the VTMUA professionals to discuss the study before the presentation. Edward Seger said he would call the mayor to make the suggestion, and Mr. Scerbo would follow it up with a letter.

Edward Seger asked John Scerbo about the contract with Hardyston and asked if it included grass cutting and snow plowing. Mr. Scerbo said Hardyston was willing to do both, but it would be as time was available because they do not have equipment to dedicate solely to Vernon. Hardyston was willing to deduct $10,000 from the contract if Vernon provided for its own grass cutting and snow plowing. He said because they expected to switch over to Hardyston on February 1 and there was a snowstorm on January 31, he got bids for the snow plowing and he issued the approval and a purchase order for that contract. Countryside Landscaping is doing the snow plowing. The Vernon DPW will not be doing the plowing. He said Countryside has done a very good job during the last two snowstorms and at a reasonable cost.

Mr. Scerbo also awarded a contract to Lawn Plus to do the landscaping, which will begin in the spring.

Edward Snook asked John Scerbo to provide the new VTMUA members with a copy of his employment contract for them to review.

Edward Seger asked John Scerbo if he was going to contact the companies that did not bid on the RFPs to inquire why they chose not to bid. Mr. Scerbo said he had contacted some of them and the distance to Vernon was an issue for them. Another firm said they had misinformation about the bid. They had called two days after the bids were opened, and Mr. Scerbo told them it was too late. Mr. Seger suggested the RFPs might have been too complicated and they might consider paring them down.

There was a discussion on two of the VTMUA’s generators that needed repairs, for which they were quoted more than $4,000, but Hardyston pointed out the generators are still under warranty and the VTMUA should not have to pay anything for the repairs. In another instance, the VTMUA had to replace an expensive board in the automatic transfer switch, but Hardyston went to the company and got the board and could install it themselves because they had the experience, which would have been a cost savings to the VTMUA. In another issue, on a recommendation by Mike Furrey of Agra Environmental they went to Mike’s Mobile for the repair of a meter in Pump Station 2 that had failed. John Scerbo learned from Hardyston that they had a lot of experience with Mike’s Mobile and would not recommend the company. Even after Mike’s Mobile installed a new meter, it was still not working, he said. Mr. Scerbo then got the name of an independent firm from Hardyston, which came and corrected the problem with the meter.

Edward Seger noted that going with Hardyston might have been a good approach and they might go back to Hardyston in the future, but they should go through the bid process again first.

Edward Snook said the Hardyston sewer operators know what they are doing and would point the VTMUA in the right directions. Mr. Scerbo said Hardyston has been over and above board and reminded the VTMUA that Marianne Smith said the contract was on the table and could be reinstated in the future.


Edward Snook moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:27 p.m.
John Perry seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:27 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on March 16, 2017 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Vernon Township MUA Secretary