Minutes: February 21, 2013

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, February 21, 2013 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 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 BuchneyP
Barbara ChorzepaP
Doug DobrzynskiA
Gloria GalloA
James KensekP
Stephen PiccirilloA
Vincent ZinnoP

Also Present

John Ursin, Esq.; Chuck Ferraioli, Auditor; Ceren Aralp, Engineer

Attorney John Ursin administered the oath of office to new VTMUA member James Kensek.

Items for Discussion

Retro of 2012 Sewer Rate

Chairman Vincent Zinno stated that members of the public have expressed concerns about the sewer rates and about the bedroom mix calculated into the EDU rates. The discussion was for the third and fourth quarters of 2012. Thomas Buchney asked if a time limit would be placed on the adjustments. VTMUA Attorney John Ursin stated that a deadline could be noted to be retroactive to the third of fourth quarter of 2012 when a motion to approve is made. He said direction should be given to staff to treat all cases that come up for the first quarter of 2013 to be treated on the same basis so each case does not have to come back before the authority. Due to the waiver of the late fees for the third and fourth quarter and the adjustments to the bedroom calculations, adjustments had not been made for the first quarter 2013 billing. All of the adjustments will be on the second quarter billing.

Motion to retro the 2012 rate to what the new EDU structure is for 2013:
James Kensek moved; Barbara Chorzepa seconded
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Kensek, yes; Zinno, yes

Appointment of Temporary Vice Chairperson for the MUA

In Gloria Gallo’s absence the authority, on a motion by Barbara Chorzepa and seconded by James Kensek, Thomas Buchney was nominated to serve as Vice-Chairman in Commissioner Gallo’s absence with the condition that Ms. Gallo is excused from the meetings due to personal family reasons and is automatically Vice Chairperson when she returns.

Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Kensek, yes; Zinno, yes

Approval of Minutes for January 24, 2013 Meeting

Moved by Thomas Buchney; seconded by James Kensek
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Kensek, yes; Zinno, yes

Meeting Opened for Public Comment

Linda Gervald, Stonehill Condominiums, asked for clarification of her bill, which was due on the first of the month. She wanted it clarified that payment is extended for 45 days. The commissioners concurred. She also asked if she would be credited in 2013 for 2012. The commissioners again concurred.

Richard Bagney of Great Gorge Village that a letter was sent to Vincent Zinno on February 12, asking if the EDUs were still based on the number of bedrooms. Mr. Bagney questioned the amounts in his bills. He was advised to contact the VTMUA office to correct the bills.

Cathleen Moore, senior warden of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, read a letter into the record. The letter asked the VTMUA to consider their hardship case, saying they installed a new septic system in the late 1990s, replaced and upgraded their holding tank in 2003, and made additional large repairs in 2010. She said St. Thomas is a not-for-profit organization and asked for the church to be viewed as a hardship case when the VTMUA considers its hookup fee and sewer rates. Vincent Zinno said the commissioners would discuss the church with their attorney and discuss their options and make a determination.

Richard Carson, an executive committee member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, said there needs to be a clear understanding of what the church’s responsibilities are regarding hookup fees. He asked how were permit fees calculated per EDU and what constitutes improved property as stated in the letter the church received from the township? He also said the letter clearly states that certain residential and commercial property owners within the projected wastewater area will be required to retain an engineer to design the connection. He said St. Thomas is neither residential nor commercial, and he said there needs to be some consideration for either a waiver of the fees or significantly reduced fees. He also asked how the sewer and water calculations were devised. Attorney John Ursin said improved properties are required to hook up. Improved means a structure on the property as noted in the tax assessor’s records. Ursin told Carson he would provide him with minutes of those calculations but added it was mandatory for the church to hook up. Mr. Ursin also said the connection fees were discussed at multiple meetings and is the lowest connection fee among municipalities in the area. Mr. Carson said St. Thomas Episcopal Church has an extreme hardship and asked to be consideration for such.

Noreen Moran of Great Gorge Village said her first quarter 2013 bill was correct. She said forever the third and fourth quarter fees were paid in full, yet she still received a tax sale notice. Vincent Zinno noted that he is considering changing the billing service to eliminate some of the problems with the tax sale notices. He said if the bills are paid in full the late fees resulting from the prior billing method do not have to be paid. He said he extended the date and all adjustments are being made regarding the late fees by the second quarter bill.

Richard Roberts of Great Gorge Village said his new bill is again incorrect regarding bedroom count. Vincent Zinno advised him to just pay the first quarter 2013 bill for the one bedroom and the rest will be adjusted and the next bill will be correct.

Dick Fitch of the United Methodist Church gave the VTMUA another copy of the church’s hardship letter. He appealed to the VTMUA to consider them a hardship case. He said the county would not consider their hardship case until they resolve it with the VTMUA and the VTMUA contacts the county. Mr. Fitch questioned the method of calculation for EDUs based on the number of seats in their worship area. VTMUA Engineer Ceren Aralp said the guidelines go by worship area seating. The United Methodist Church has 144 seats. The seating, multiplied by 3 gallons per seat, equals 432 gallons per day, which requires a calculation of about 1.75 EDUs for the worship area. Additional calculations for the church’s office space, youth groups, and other areas will be added. Mr. Ursin suggested Ms. Aralp provide a detailed report for the church to consider. Vincent Zinno stated that the church’s application would be removed from the meeting agenda that night, pending further consideration.

Lisa Vilardi of the United Methodist Church also questioned the basis of the calculations for the church and said the same people considered in the seating calculation of the church are the people also using the other areas of the church. They’re not double, she said. She added the church is non-profit and serves the community and if they are forced to pay the required fees, they will have to close the church. Vincent Zinno reiterated they would table the church’s application pending further discussion.

Meeting Closed for Public Comment

Moved by Barbara Chorzepa, seconded by Thomas Buchney; all were in favor.

Consent Agenda

  1. Resolution 13-01: Appointment for Professional Services—John Ursin
  2. Resolution 13-06: Schedule of Meetings
  3. Resolution 13-07: Designating the Official Newspaper—New Jersey Herald
  4. Resolution 13-08: Authorizing Funds under $500 and Check Signing
  5. Resolution 13-09: Appointment for Professional Services—Charles Ferraioli
  6. Resolution 13-10: Appointment for Professional Services—Ceren Aralp
  7. Resolution 13-11: Appointment for Professional Services—Risk Management
  8. Resolution 13-12: Authorizing Contract for 2013 Recording Secretary—Jessi Paladini

Moved by Kensek, seconded by Buchney
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Kensek, yes; Zinno, yes

Correspondence

Craig Thompson of Comet Management for Stonehill Condominiums

Craig Thompson stated there was an error in the spreadsheet sent to the VTMUA and it has been corrected and sent again.

Auditor Report

No Report

Bills for Review

Tabled

Engineer Report

Block 148 Lot 2 United Methodist Church
Posted pending further review

Block 144.01 Lot 4 Highland State Bank
1.75 EDUs based on 4,104 square feet of commercial space

Block 142 Lot 2 Brookside Colonial Corporation
1.25 EDUs for two-story retail/office space

Block 141.03 Lot 4 Glenwood Property Management
1.25 EDUs for commercial/office space

Block 141.04 Lot 6 Church Street Management
3.25 EDUs for two-story building with office space on the first floor and three 2-bedroom apartments on the second floor

Block 141 Lot 15.04 Del Grosso Realty
0.75 EDUs for warehouse with 7 employees

Motion to approve by Kensek, seconded by Chorzepa
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, yes; Kensek, yes; Zinno, yes

Authority Comments

Barbara Chorzepa said she went through all of the 2012 minutes. She questioned Resolution 12-02 and asked for clarification on the timeframe for applicants to physically connect to the sewers. She had a number of concerns about the resolution and would like a clear definition of “to connect” clarified. She would like to discuss it at the next meeting.

John Ursin stated two deadlines are coming up: 1) for mandatory connection and 2) the connection fee deadline. He suggested the commissioners adopt a motion to direct him to draft a resolution granting extension. Putting it in resolution form will clarify the language and solidify it and convey to users that the extension is in motion.

Thomas Buchney asked how the applicants requesting hardship considerations would be impacted by the deadlines. He asked if the extensions should be granted for all applicants or on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Ursin stated that letters would be sent only to those not yet in compliance, notifying them this will be their final notice. The letters will notify them that they are in violation and/or tell them the requirement for compliance has been extended to the number of days the commissioners agree upon.

Thomas Buchney moved the following:

  1. Extend the mandatory connection date until June 30.
  2. Extend the 50% discount for connection fees for the existing improvements to June 30.
  3. Both extensions would be contingent upon the EDU billing at the rate to be determined, to begin on April 1.

James Kensek seconded the motion.
Roll Call Vote—Buchney, yes; Chorzepa, no; Kensek, yes; Zinno, yes

John Ursin said there will be a resolution memorializing the decision at the next meeting.

Chairman Comments

Vincent Zinno updated the commissioners on the status of the municipal employees working with the VTMUA. He reiterated that Aida Cahill resigned and is no longer working for the town. JoAnn Hennecke is temporarily doing those duties performed by Ms. Cahill. He informed the commissioners that an employment opportunity was posted for a full-time MUA administrator in the municipal center. He has received a few resumes from applicants. The criteria he added for the position included prior MUA experience, bookkeeping, and so on. He also said they are looking for a new billing company. He met with the CFO and with a person from an online company who can do billing.

Thomas Buchney asked Vincent Zinno if he is logging his hours in the municipal center. He asked for a better idea of how the staff and Mr. Zinno’s time is being spent. The chairman said he spends between 10-20 hours a week in the municipal center working on VTMUA matters.

The chairperson said he will also be spending time with the new employee that comes in.

Thomas Buchney said it would be beneficial to know how many hours a week the commissioners are spending on VTMUA matters so they have a better idea of what is being put into it.

Vincent Zinno said they are looking for a full-time and a part-time person, possibly a “floater,” to work for the VTMUA.

James Kensek moved to adjourn the meeting; Barbara Chorzepa seconded it. All were in favor. The meeting of the VTMUA ended at 8:57 p.m.

Submitted by Jessi Paladini, Secretary
Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority
Date approved: April 18, 2013