Minutes: January 16, 2014

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, January 16, 2014 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 2, 2014 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
Gloria GalloP
James KensekP
Stephen PiccirilloA
Roy TanfieldP
Vincent ZinnoP

Professional Staff Present

Attorney Robert McBriar, Auditor Charles Ferraioli, and Executive Director John Scerbo were also present.

1. Open Meeting for Public Comment

Motion to open the meeting to the public made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo
All in favor

No one from the public came forward

Motion to close the meeting to the public made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Roy Tanfield
All in favor

2. Approval of Minutes

Approval of Minutes for Regular Meeting of December 19, 2013

Motion to approve the minutes made by Barbara Chorzepa.
Seconded by Roy Tanfield

Call for Discussion: None

Ayes: Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Vincent Zinno, Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Abstention: Thomas Buchney and Gloria Gallo (absent at 12/19/13 meeting)
Motion passed

3. Correspondence

There was no correspondence.

4. Approval of Bills

Resolution 14-01: Payment of Bills List

Motion to approve the bills
Motion to approve the bills was made by Barbara Chorzepa.
Seconded by Vincent Zinno

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

5. Resolutions

A. Resolution 14-02: Resolution Regarding the Delayed Adoption of the 2014 Budget

Motion to approve made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Call for Discussion: Charles Ferraioli said New Jersey law requires the adoption of the budget 60 days before year end. Mr. Ferraioli recommended that the VTMUA delay the adoption of the budget until December 31, 2014 because the authority’s estimated revenues and appropriations will not be known at the time the budget is to be introduced and adopted.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

B. Resolution 14-03: Approving the Extension of Time and Deferral of Mandatory Hookup for the Cider Mill, Block 143 Lot 19, to the Sanitary Sewer System; All Annual User Fees Will Be Paid During the Deferral Period Based on the Assessment of 2 EDUs

Motion to approve made by Vincent Zinno.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Call for Discussion: The commissioners clarified that the extension is for six months only.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Abstention: Gloria Gallo
Motion passed

C. Resolution 14-04: Adopting the 2014 Budget for the VTMUA

Motion to open to public comment on the 2014 budget

Auditor Charles Ferraioli noted that there would be no rate increase for users in the 2014 budget.

Motion to open was made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by James Kensek

No public came forward to comment.

Motion to close was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo
All in favor

Charles Ferraioli said before the VTMUA can adopt the budget, the Department of Community Affairs requires them to approve a resolution for a corrective action plan to adopt formal written procedures for purchasing, financial reporting, and internal controls

Executive Director John Scerbo said the commissioners need a motion to go out of the sequence of the agenda order to approve the resolution.

Motion to go out of sequence made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by Barbara Chorzepa

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

D. Resolution 14-07: Corrective Action Plan

The authority does not have formal written procedures over purchasing and financial reporting. The corrective action plan is that the authority will develop formal, written procedures over purchasing, financial reporting, and internal controls. The corrective action plan will be implemented immediately. Executive Director John Scerbo said the VTMUA has been using the procedures of the finance department up until this point but needed to formally adopt its own written procedures.

Motion to adopt the corrective action plan made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Roy Tanfield

Call for Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

E. The Commissioners went back to Resolution 14-04: Adopting the 2014 Budget for the VTMUA

Motion to adopt the 2014 Budget for the VTMUA was made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

F. Resolution 14-05: Contracting National Water Main Cleaning Company to Correct the Inflow and Infiltration Issue at the Black Creek Lift Station

A recent inspection revealed that groundwater was leaking at the lift station. Engineer Ceren Aralp recommended repairs be made by grouting the leak when the weather permits.

Motion to contract with National Water Main was made by Barbara Chorzepa.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

G. Resolution 14-06: Amending the Vernon Wastewater Management Plan

Auditor Charles Ferraioli said there is no rate increase to users in the $1,937,009 budget for 2014.

Motion to amend the plan was made by Vincent Zinno.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Call for Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, Gloria Gallo, James Kensek, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None
Motion passed

6. Attorney’s Report

No report

7. Auditor’s Report

No further report

8. Engineer’s Report

Ceren Aralp said she is requesting revised drawings from Vernon Electric to delineate its property line on Church Street. She also said the A&P’s TWA was approved last week and will be obtaining the plaza’s construction schedule within the next 30 days so that construction can begin as soon as possible. Chairman Zinno asked Executive Director John Scerbo to check on the escrow account for the applicant to make sure it is paid and is sufficient. Ms. Aralp said the plaza will be building a pump station and connecting a force main. Vincent Zinno verified that the hookup would go under the stream.

9. Executive Director’s Report

John Scerbo reported that the conversion to the new billing system is going well. The bills for 2014 will go out within the week. Subsequent bills will be on a quarterly basis. Online payments are going smoothly, he said, and more people are making payments online.

10. VTMUA Commissioners’ Comments

Commissioner Roy Tanfield said he had personal comments to make at the public meeting and said he had already communicated his comments to John Scerbo, attorney John Ursin, the president of Great Gorge Village, and to Comet Management, the company that manages Great Gorge Village. He said there has been a big controversy for a year-and-a-half regarding whether Great Gorge Village residents are being billed properly by the VTMUA. He said he wanted to go on record stating that based upon his research and the meter-based data he received, the current budget and the amounts paid by Great Gorge Village property owners are correct and accurate. He said the bills Great Gorge Village residents will receive in 2014 will be accurate, fair, and justified. The aggregate flow, according to the sewer meters kept by the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority for a 12-month period ending October 31, 2013, show 70,650,000 gallons of wastewater flow for the whole system. The question is, he said, is the budget fair, and he said it is absolutely a bare bones budget. Mr. Tanfield said the big issue was how much of that budget should Great Gorge Village residents be responsible for? He said Comet Management gathered data independently, asking Great Gorge Village homeowners to voluntarily surrender their data.

VTMUA Commissioner Barbara Chorzepa interjected that she felt Mr. Tanfield, as a Great Gorge Village property owner, might have a conflict in discussing Great Gorge Village rates. She said the VTMUA had not authorized Mr. Tanfield to do independent research or present such information and felt it was inappropriate for him to do so. Mr. Tanfield said he had a meeting with VTMUA attorney John Ursin, Executive Director John Scerbo, and Chairman Vincent Zinno, who advised him it was appropriate for him to discuss his findings regarding Great Gorge Village, as long as Mr. Tanfield states it is his own personal opinion. Ms. Chorzepa stated she sees a conflict with Mr. Tanfield’s comments.

Commissioner Gloria Gallo said she has no problem with Mr. Tanfield reporting his information.

Chairman Vincent Zinno said Ms. Chorzepa is correct in her assertion, but if Mr. Tanfield has done something as an individual effort and it was not authorized by the VTMUA he should step down and not make the comments as a commissioner. Mr. Zinno said if at any time any of the commissioners have something they think the other commissioners should look into further or do research on, they should do so, or the VTMUA could form a subcommittee to work with Mr. Tanfield or another commissioner so that it would be a joint venture. Mr. Zinno said at this point he is not disagreeing with either side, but he would like Mr. Tanfield to finish his presentation.

Mr. Tanfield said Mr. Ursin did not tell him it was inappropriate or in conflict to make his presentation about Great Gorge Village. Mr. Tanfield continued to say that a number of Great Gorge Village residents gave Comet Management their bills voluntarily with a privacy understanding. Comet Management’s independent accountant came up with the conclusion that the total amount of water bill flow is about 33.5 million gallons a year, which is about 47% of the flow for the entire sewer system, which comes to a flow calculation of about $945,000. Mr. Tanfield added that Great Gorge Village is currently being billed one million dollars, which is within about five or six percent of what they should be. He said there were arguments that Great Gorge Village residents were being overbilled, but he has found through his data that is not the case. Mr. Tanfield said he sees absolutely no reason why anyone, including himself, could say that they are being overbilled. With a margin of error of 3-4 percent the VTMUA is right on the money, he said. He added there were two years now with no rate increases for Great Gorge Village property owners and also a 20% cut in rates in 2012. Mr. Tanfield said he wanted to go on record that that was where he stood on the matter.

Commissioner Gloria Gallo told Mr. Tanfield he reported good information and thanked him for it.

Chairman Zinno said the commissioners and the professional staff brought the VTMUA to where it is today and thanked everyone for the effort. He said he appreciated Mr. Tanfield’s comments.

Thomas Buchney said he was happy to see that the Department of Public Works had an enclosed vehicle with a generator while working on the sewers.

Barbara Chorzepa said she had requested of John Ursin at the last meeting the total costs thus far of the lawsuit brought forth by Great Gorge Village property owner Len Coloccia against the VTMUA. She would like to inform the public what this lawsuit is costing the VTMUA and the users. Attorney Robert McBriar, sitting in for John Ursin, said he would communicate to Mr. Ursin to have this information available at the next meeting of the VTMUA.

11. Chairman’s Comments

Chairman Vincent Zinno questioned whether the commissioners thought it would be feasible to put together a committee to create an informational newsletter about updates and operations of the VTMUA and insert the newsletter in with the quarterly billing.

Barbara Chorzepa suggested they might put the newsletter on the website rather than mail them out.

Executive Director John Scerbo said they could take highlights from such a newsletter and put them on the website but said there are still many people, including senior citizens, who might not have access to a computer.

James Kensek suggested a counter be installed on the VTMUA website to try to determine how many are using it.

The commissioners agreed to form a newsletter subcommittee at the next meeting. Roy Tanfield and James Kensek volunteered to be on the subcommittee.

In a final matter, Chairman Zinno said he did not feel the VTMUA should do a “Request for Proposals” for professionals for the authority for 2014, saying he had no interest in pursuing proposals for an attorney or for any of the other professionals currently contracted with the VTMUA.

Motion to Adjourn the Meeting

Motion to adjourn the meeting was made by James Kensek.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo
All in favor
Meeting was adjourned at 7:51 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on February 20, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Vernon Township MUA Secretary