Minutes: January 21, 2016

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 21, 2016 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 15, 2015 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
Gloria GalloP
James KensekA
Edward SnookP
Joseph TadrickP
Theodore WilsonA
Vincent ZinnoP

Roll Call of Professionals

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

1. Open Meeting for Public Comment

Motion to open the meeting to the public was made by Edward Snook.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo
All were in favor.
The meeting was opened to the public.

Richard Bagni a Great Gorge Village resident, said the condominium complex is paying 70% of the entire township sewer service bill. He said there have already been two increases in fees within a two-year period. He said he is concerned about the effect the increases have on his property values in Great Gorge Village. He said previously their sewer bills were about the same rate as their water bills and thinks the sewer rates should be the same as the water rates. He is also concerned about the VTMUA debt. He said despite not having children in township schools, he still has to pay school taxes. He feels the rest of the town, people not on sewers, should share the VTMUA debt burden as well.

Mark Bower of Great Gorge Village said he is on the master council of Great Gorge Village but speaks for himself. He said his water bills are about $35-$40 a month all year, but his summer bills are about $110 a month due to irrigating his lawn. He said his annual water bill is about $400-$500 but his sewer bill is about $900 a year, which is about double his water rates. He said United Water had offered to share its data free of charge to the VTMUA so the amount of discharge would be equivalent to the amount of water used. He said that would be the fairest and most simple method for sewer fees. He said perception is reality and the perception that the VTMUA is balancing its books on the backs of the condo owners is real and feels it is not fair.

Rich Roberts of Great Gorge Village said he feels the proposed rate increase seems like a lot for one year. He lives alone and has a one-bedroom condo and has a neighbor who has five people in a one-bedroom condo. He claims they are using five times the amount he is, but they are paying the same sewer rates as is he.

Ms. Erickson of Great Gorge Village feels she is being targeted because she is paying more for services than anyone else in the town. She feels businesses in the sewer service area are being exempted from payments or are using so much more sewerage than the condo residents but are paying much less. She wants to know why Great Gorge Village is being targeted and is carrying the burden of the Township of Vernon. She said Mountain Creek and Minerals are not paying their fair share.

Rich Roberts asked to whom the Great Gorge Village residents could go to ask questions about the sewers. Chairman Vincent Zinno directed Mr. Roberts and the residents in attendance to VTMUA Executive Director John Scerbo during the workday from Monday to Friday. Mr. Scerbo will bring the issues to the attention of the commissioners or the VTMUA attorney.

Craig Thompson of Great Gorge Village said he represents several clients in the Appalachian Hotel, and they are asking if consolidated billing for the association is possible so they can pay the sewer fees in one lump sum.

Howard Greenblatt of Great Gorge Village asked how many of the VTMUA commissioners live in the condominiums. He thinks it is unfair that there is not a condominium resident on the commission. He feels the VTMUA does not care about the condo residents. Chairman Zinno suggested Mr. Greenblatt approach the township mayor if they want someone from the condominiums to be appointed to the VTMUA. Mr. Zinno said the VTMUA has had a commissioner from the condominiums. He feels Mountain Creek pays less than the condominium owners. Mr. Zinno corrected him and said everyone pays the same with regard to EDU rates. No one pays more. The rates are based on the EDUs (Equivalent Dwelling Units). Mr. Greenblatt wants to know what is the function of the VTMUA. Mr. Zinno told Mr. Greenblatt to direct his questions to Mr. Scerbo.

2. Close the Meeting for Public Comment

Motion to close the meeting to the public was made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Edward Snook
All were in favor.
The public portion of the meeting was closed.

3. Consent Agenda

Resolution 16-01: Authorizing the Payment of January 21, 2016 Bills

Motion to approve the bills was made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

4. Approval of Minutes

December 16, 2015 Regular Meeting

Motion to approve the December 16, 2015 Regular Meeting minutes was made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by Edward Snook

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

5. Correspondence

Letter from Statewide Insurance Fund on 2016 Coverage and Assessments

The letter states what is the VTMUA’s coverage and how claims are processed.

Vincent Zinno moved to receive and file the correspondence.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

6. 2016 Rate Hearing

The new rate for an EDU is $980, which is an annual increase of $80.

  • A one-bedroom studio unit is .6 EDU, which equals $588 annually or $147 quarterly (quarterly increase of $12 for 2016).
  • A two-bedroom unit is .8 EDU, which equals $784 annually or $196 quarterly (quarterly increase of $16 for 2016).
  • A unit with 3 or more bedrooms is 1 EDU, which equals $980 annually or $245 per quarter (quarterly increase of $20 for 2016).

Motion to open the rate hearing to the public was made by Edward Snook.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

Rich Roberts of Great Gorge Village asked the VTMUA not to increase the rates.

Susan Weissbach of Great Gorge Village asked for an explanation of the rate structure by bedroom count, for the waterpark, and for businesses. VTMUA Engineer Ceren Aralp explained the rates.

Tom McClachrie of Lake Wanda asked what are the VTMUA projections for rate increases for the next five years. Chuck Ferraioli explained that the biggest debt for the VTMUA is the Sussex County Municipal Utility Authority fees. Mr. Ferraioli said next year the debt service will increase by $150,000, but he also stated Mountain Creek would begin paying its share next year, which will help the VTMUA’s finances. Mr. McClachrie asked what was Mountain Creek’s share of payment. Mr. Ferraioli said whatever the VTMUA’s deficit is by next year, Mountain Creek is responsible for paying 60 percent of it. Mr. Ferraioli said the SCMUA would likely increase their rates about two percent a year. Mr. McClachrie asked if Pump Station #1 has been repaired. Engineer Ceren Aralp said it has been repaired.

Noreen Moran of Great Gorge Village asked if the agreement with Mountain Creek transferred to the new owners of the resort. Charles Ferraioli said the agreement passes on to successive owners of the resort.

Connie Taylor of Great Gorge Village asked who determined the $980 fee for an EDU. Vincent Zinno said the township CFO and the auditor calculated the rates. She said the rate increase is high for Great Gorge Village residents who are on fixed incomes and asked if they could expect such increases every year. She said she never paid such fees with United Water when they owned the sewer company. Chuck Ferraioli said the VTMUA’s debt service goes up every year. As the SCMUA raises fees, the VTMUA must raise fees unless there are more users on the system.

Craig Thompson asked if the VTMUA would eventually be going to meters to determine actual usage. He also said the VTMUA could get water usage data from United Water . Chairman Vincent Zinno said it is a possibility. Mr. Thompson said if they got the data from United Water the VTMUA would not have to install meters.

Motion to close the rate hearing to the public was made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

7. Other Resolutions

A. Resolution 16-02: Adoption of 2016 Sewer Rates

Motion to adopt the 2016 Sewer Rates was made by Edward Snook.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

B. Resolution 16-03: Late Introduction the 2016 Budget for the VTMUA

The late introduction of the budget is a result of the SCMUA’s bill not being stuck until December, delaying the introduction of the VTMUA budget.

Motion to approve the 2016 VTMUA budget was made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

C. Resolution 16-04: Adoption of the 2016 Budget

The 2016 VTMUA budget for fiscal year January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016 reflects total revenues of $2,172,400. The total capital appropriations are $52,000.

Motion to approve the 2016 VTMUA Budget was made by Gloria Gallo.
Seconded by Edward Snook

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

D. Resolution 16-05: Granting a Connection Deferral for Block 145 Lot 7

The VTMUA is extending its deferral for mandatory connection for this property, owned by Morgan and Patricia Giunta, for an additional two years due to the unique physical conditions affecting the property, in particular the presence of a natural rock ledge, and precludes installation of necessary components to the required depth. During the deferral period the property owners will pay all annual user fees based on 1 EDU as required by Section 4.1 of the rules of the VTMUA.

Motion to approve the connection deferral was made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Further Discussion: Thomas Buchney asked if the deferral would go to the new owner if the property sold. Executive Director John Scerbo said it goes with the property and would transfer to the new owner. Attorney Richard Wenner said the transfer would be clearly defined in the agreement for the deferral.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

E. Resolution 16-06: Correcting the Name of D&H Risk Management Solutions to Skylands Risk Management, Inc. in Previously Passed Resolutions

Motion to correct the name was made by Vincent Zinno.
Seconded by Edward Snook

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, Joseph Tadrick, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

The record reflected that Commissioner Joseph Tadrick had to leave the meeting at 8:12 p.m.

8. Attorney’s Report

No report

9. Auditor’s Report

No report

10. Engineer’s Report

A. Review of New Applications—Block 145, Lot 1.05, Pronto’s Pizza, 530 Route 515, Acme Shopping Plaza

Engineer Ceren Aralp recommended assessing 11.25 EDUs for this 85-seat restaurant. She has requested information on the restaurant’s grease trap, so she does not recommend approval of the drawings at this time.

Motion to approve was made by Thomas Buchney.
Seconded by Edward Snook

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

B. Old Business—Valley View Apartments, 1517 Omega Drive

Engineer Ceren Aralp reported that she is working with the applicant’s engineer and trying to finalize easements.

Motion to approve the engineer’s report was made by Edward Snook.
Seconded by Gloria Gallo

Further Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Snook, and Vincent Zinno
Nays: None

11. Executive Director’s Report

No report

12. Commissioner Comments

No comments

13. Chairman Comments

Chairman Vincent Zinno thanked the residents for coming to the meeting and for voicing their concerns and opinions. He reiterated Executive Director John Scerbo’s office hours and directed the public to see him with their questions or to go to the VTMUA website.

Adjournment

Having no additional business, Gloria Gallo moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:18 p.m.
Thomas Buchney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:18 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on February 18, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Vernon Township MUA Secretary