Minutes: January 7, 2021

These minutes are a synopsis of the meeting that took place on 1/7/2021. Copies of the recording are available at the office of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority.

1. Call to Order

The regular meeting of the MUA was convened at 7:03 p.m.

2. Statement of Compliance

Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 213, PL 1975, adequate notice as defined in Section 3D of Chapter 231, PL 1975 of this regular meeting was provided to the public and the press on December 22, 2020 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the MUA as well as posted on the website.

3. Salute to the Flag

4. Roll Call of Members and Professionals

The following members were present:
Michael Furrey
Paul Kearney
Andrew Pitsker
Kristin Wheaton
Dave McDermott - Arrived at 7:30 p.m.

The following individuals were absent:
Jean Murphy

The following professionals were present: Donelle Bright, Administrator; Colette J. Borell, Recording Secretary, Richard Wenner, Attorney, Brian Tipton, Special Counsel and Steven Benosky, Project Engineer.

At this time Mr. Furrey stated MUA Licensed Operator of Record Howard Lazier will be joining the meeting shortly.

5. Open Meeting to the Public

Mr. Pitsker motioned to open the meeting to the public, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and carried upon unanimous vote. Ms. Bright stated no emails, comments or phone calls were received to give public statement. Seeing no members of the public come forward, Ms. Wheaton motioned to close to public, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and carried upon unanimous vote.

At this time, Mr. Furrey stated comments from the commissioners would be heard at the beginning of the meeting rather than at the conclusion at the request of Mr. Kearney. Mr. Kearney asked about the status of the repair work needed at station #1. Ms. Bright stated Mr. Lazier notified her a high level alarm that occurred on December 24, 2020. She said they checked the one pump, tried to pull it out however the hoist was broken, of which no one was made aware. She advised Mr. Lazier reached out to the Vernon Department of Public Works who confirmed it was broken and had been for months, possibly going back before the spring of 2020. Mr. Lazier inspected the winch, determined it was a manual hoist which needed replacement, and notified vendor Mike’s Mobile today to inspect it. Ms. Bright noted Mr. Lazier was advised to possibly grease the inside first before purchasing a new one.

Mr. Kearney asked if there were standard operating procedures in place for equipment testing to discover broken parts and the process for reporting it. He explained the problems operations reporting procedure that handled, rectified and tracked repair situations. He stated equipment including pumps and valves need to be inspected and exercised for maintenance checks. Ms. Bright advised she reviewed the previous standard operating procedures for Pump Station #3 and said nothing was in it specifically about pulling pumps and checking hoists. Mr. Furrey asked Ms. Bright if this was on the checklist. She stated she did not see one in the checklist only that it states to pull the pump as needed and confirmed this should be done regularly. Mr. Kearney noted it was not necessary to pull the pump if it is running. Mr. Pitsker commented in the standard operating procedures it states pulling the pump to check its operation and said at that point it should be discovered if the pump is bad. Mr. Furrey suggested having a preventative maintenance program with a checklist log for the system before parts break to be set up by Mr. Lazier. Mr. Kearney concurred and clarified that it can be modified from the current log into a standard operating procedures manual. Ms. Bright advised Mr. Lazier can set up a scheduled log. At this time Mr. Lazier joined the meeting.

Ms. Bright asked Mr. Lazier to draw up a schedule to ensure the MUA is checking all operational items on a regular basis. Mr. Furrey commented the MUA should be doing the service work in house to save money rather than hiring a private company which is more expensive.

Mr. Kearney asked about the status of the safety issues. Ms. Bright advised the majority of the safety updates are completed, the safety railings will be installed at Black Creek Sanctuary in the next two to three weeks after return from the galvanizer. She advised there were two quotes received, one company quoted on permanent chain link fencing, but she chose the vendor who made the railings removable to allow for maintenance access. Mr. Kearney asked about the status of the list of capital items required for updating and maintenance compiled by Mr. Lazier.

Mr. Lazier stated the need to obtain two pumps for the lift stations at $1,900.00 each through USA Blue Book. He advised the bearings in the muffin monster machine at Pump Station #3 are unfixable with a new machine required. He said he talked with JEM Electric about the panel boxes; a replacement was quoted $6,400.00 for a new panel. He advised Blue Book carries the complete panel at $2,000.00 with the same electrical setup. He stated what they are finding at one of the lift stations the panel has cheap switches which do not work, the relays only work and checked several electrical vendors for replacement parts however none of them carry them. He advised vendor Raymond Cornetto of North Jersey Pump & Controls, LLC recommended obtaining new transmitters for the lift stations because they are more efficient. Mr. Lazier stated the new lid received for the La Touquet lift station is too heavy to lift and weighs over 300 lbs.

At this time, Mr. McDermott entered the meeting. Mr. Furrey asked about the status of the muffin monster part and clarified it is the highest priority item to order. Ms. Bright advised a quote was provided by vendor GP Jager, Inc. who requested the serial number off of the machine to complete the order. Mr. Lazier confirmed it will be provided. Mr. Lazier stated he spoke with Mike of Mike’s Mobile today about the muffin monster down at Pump Station #3 and Mike advised he can handle the service work. Mr. Furrey advised Mike has vendor contacts to provide quotes and can install the muffin monster. Mr. Lazier confirmed the machine is electric not hydraulic, discussed the generators needed, the types, sizes required and specifications, including the electrical wiring. Mr. Pitsker commented if a permanent generator is needed by the lift stations it would need to be installed in a lock box and asked whether it was included in the estimates. Ms. Bright stated she is researching prices and concurred a permanent generator is preferable.

Mr. Furrey advised he wished to have Mr. Benosky review the different options of generators and advise on his recommendations. Mr. Benosky asked if there were generator quotes available. Ms. Bright advised she would provide Mr. Benosky with pricing obtained to date. Mr. Lazier advised Mr. Benosky they are currently set up for portable generators and will provide the specifications, types of generators, sizes required. He said the generators are for the four lift stations at the Mountain Creek condominiums and E&M Electrical had made up the wiring. Mr. Lazier clarified it is physically difficult to move the portable generators up and down between lift stations due. Mr. Furrey commented the generators’ purchase should be reviewed carefully with cost analysis. Mr. Lazier concurred with his recommendation and advised Mike of Mike’s Mobile speculated it might just be the gear box on the hoist which needs replacement.

Mr. Kearney asked about the status of the billing inquiries by the Vernon Valley Plaza property manager Roy Pascal and the MUA’s recommendation to retain a professional engineer to evaluate the billings. Ms. Bright answered to date she has not heard back from him regarding the engineer, nor received a list of stores that were vacant for EDU review which Mr. Pascal said he would provide.

Mr. Pitsker questioned about the coordination of finances with the timeline received by Mr. Benosky on the pump station construction. Ms. Bright answered to her understanding once Dewberry prepares the engineering design and plan it will be submitted to NJIB for review. She advised she will need to prepare a bond ordinance at some point which needs to be approved by the Vernon Township Council. Mr. Pitsker advised it should be listed on the project outline. Ms. Bright concurred and advised she would reach out to bond counsel to find out timing to file the bond ordinances in conjunction with planning and design of the project. She explained typically an authority would need to do a bond ordinance to have available cash flow to pay for capital expenditures however the Township of Vernon has already put aside $200,000.00 in the past two years to be able to pay for expenditures for the sewers to help reimburse the MUA for planning and design.

Mr. Pitsker asked if the project outline includes the transfer station. Mr. Benoksy advised it is intended to include both stations, stated he had reached out to Dave Bauer of Wind River to coordinate, and is awaiting his response. He asked if Wind River will be the primary vendor as user. Mr. Furrey advised it will be put out to bid to other vendors. Ms. Bright stated there are existing agreements between Mountain Creek and Wind River. Mr. Benoksy stated during his meeting with Mr. Bauer he provided good ideas on the design and construction of the transfer station, noting if they will be the primary vendor the project should be acceptable to Wind River. Ms. Bright advised Wind River will be contacted to set up a review. Ms. Wheaton asked about the existing Mountain Creek agreement with Wind River. Ms. Bright clarified the town has an arrangement with Mountain Creek to pay the town for the pump station. She stated when the meeting was held with Mountain Creek they agreed they would work out a deal with Wind River to be paid for the initial infrastructure whatever that cost is so the town does not have to work out an agreement directly with Wind River. Ms. Wheaton asked how this defrays costs by making it a public transfer station. Ms. Bright clarified the transfer station belongs to the town and the town is charging for it.

Mr. Furrey advised it will be opened up as a transfer station available to other companies to use with Wind River likely the primary user. Ms. Wheaton asked for clarification on the permitting. Mr. Furrey stated the township is obtaining the permit to build it, and whatever arrangement Wind River makes with Mountain Creek the town in the end will obtain reimbursement from Mountain Creek. Mr. Wenner advised it is correct to his understanding and will confirm. Mr. Furrey commented there is a complicated question about the legalities with the transfer station to be resolved. Ms. Wheaton asked about the public-private partnership with regards to the town funding application. Mr. Furrey confirmed the town is funding the project with reimbursement of the entire cost pursuant to the agreement with Mountain Creek.

Mr. Pitsker asked Mr. Benosky to insert additional edits into the project outline under the blank area for a document objective for pump station #2, transfer station and additional relevant necessary data.

Mr. Kearney asked for clarification of the relationship between Wind River and Mountain Creek and will Wind River be paying Mountain Creek. Mr. Furrey advised Wind River would need to work out a direct arrangement with Mountain Creek. Mr. Kearney stated to his understanding the purpose of the transfer station was for companies to transfer their waste at the station, increasing usage/flow. He asked if there is an arrangement between Mountain Creek and Wind River how it financially benefits the town. Ms. Bright explained there are two payments, one between Wind River and other companies made to the MUA as a per gallon fee at the transfer station and the second agreement between Wind River and Mountain Creek. She stated there is additional infrastructure that goes into creating the transfer station; and in order to put it in, Mountain Creek has agreed to pay for what is being built there and will work directly with Wind River.

Mr. Pitsker asked about the status of the sewer fees for Acme from Sussex. Ms. Bright advised she contacted SCMUA for copies of the bills, received incomplete copies and will submit a standard OPRA request for actual billing for the entire period. Mr. Pitsker stated he submitted an OPRA request for two police reports filed by Ms. Bright and Mr. Furrey to determine the outcome of those investigations. He said he spoke with the Vernon Police Department who confirmed they are working on it.

Ms. Wheaton suggested the Administrator’s report be heard first before the Commissioners comments in the future. She asked for more permitting information from Mr. Benosky about the transfer station. She stated she felt it will be a longer process as it is a unique installation as there are few places that receive septage and asked if there is correspondence/notes about conversations between Wind River and SCMUA on the project. Ms. Bright confirmed there were none. Ms. Wheaton stated she had concerns about the willingness of SCMUA to embrace this kind of a project. Mr. Furrey stated he believed SCMUA will not like it. Ms. Wheaton said there was research conducted between herself and Ms. Bright and discovered SCMUA is not in charge of the industrial pretreatment program rather it is handled by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”). She recommended addressing this up front first by contacting the NJDEP. Mr. Furrey and Mr. Benosky concurred on her recommendation, both advised it was necessary to reach out to the NJDEP on the specifics of what is required and to obtain direction before proceeding on the project.

Mr. Furrey commented about making the MUA better, taking his position as Chairman seriously and will always listen to the public. He read his Chairman’s comments for the MUA 2021, its visions, plans going forward and requested the comments be posted to the web site. Ms. Bright advised she will circulate the annual and year-end financial reporting to the board for review at the next meeting.

At this time, Mr. Furrey referred to Item No. 7.a. stating he preferred to enter the Executive Session first and wanted all in attendance to join the closed session.

Ms. Bright advised the public that this meeting will reconvene to address any decisions made and additional public comments.

Ms. Wheaton motioned to move to Executive Session for purposes of discussion of potential litigation, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and declared carried by Mr. Furrey upon affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Pitsker, Mr. Kearney, Mr. McDermott and Ms. Wheaton.

Mr. Furrey moved to reconvene, seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried upon the unanimous vote.

6. Approval of Minutes:

a. March 4, 2020 Regular Meeting

Mr. Pitsker motioned to approve, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and carried upon the unanimous vote.

b. November 19, 2020 Regular Meeting

Ms. Wheaton stated she is listed as absent however noted she arrived later in the meeting. Ms. Bright advised the minutes will be revised to reflect the correction.

Mr. Pitsker motioned to approve, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and carried upon the unanimous vote.

c. December 3, 2020 Regular Meeting

Ms. Wheaton and Mr. McDermott stated that they were not in attendance at this meeting. Mr. Kearney motioned to approve, which was seconded by Mr. Pitsker and declared carried upon affirmative votes of Mr. Pitsker, Mr. Furrey and Mr. Kearney.

d. December 17, 2020 Regular Meeting

Mr. Pitsker noted Jean Murphy was absent from the meeting. Ms. Bright advised Ms. Murphy will be removed from the attendance list in the minutes.

Ms. Wheaton motioned to approve as amended, which was seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried upon the unanimous vote.

Mr. Furrey referred to Item No. 7.b.

7. Resolutions:

a. Resolution 21-01: Executive Session for Discussion of Potential Litigation

Ms. Bright advised the public that this meeting will reconvene to address any decisions made and additional public comments.

Ms. Wheaton motioned to move to Executive Session for purposes of discussion of potential litigation, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and declared carried by Mr. Furrey upon affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Pitsker, Mr. Kearney, Mr. McDermott and Ms. Wheaton.

Mr. Furrey moved to reconvene, seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried upon the unanimous vote. Mr. Furrey referred to Item 6.a.

b. Resolution 21-02: Authorizing the VTMUA to Execute a Shared Service Agreement with the Township of Vernon for DPW Services

Ms. Bright advised she reached out to Mr. Wenner about drafting a basic reimbursement shared service agreement with the town for the Department of Public Works services as backup in the event of emergencies. Mr. Furrey clarified this is not in the MUA budget, it is on an on needed basis to tap into the DPW for services. Ms. Bright explained it is not a structured payment, not guaranteed money to the town and is a line of money if it is required. Mr. Pitsker asked if the resolution needed to be presented to the Town Council for vote. Ms. Bright confirmed, explaining the MUA approves the resolution first and then it is presented to the Town Council. Mr. Pitsker asked that a cap on spending limit be entered into the resolution. Ms. Bright confirmed it will be amended in an amount not to exceed $20,000.00 from the MUA budget line and will add her certification of funds for her sign off. Mr. Wenner advised Mr. Pitsker to abstain voting as he serves on both the MUA and Council.

Mr. McDermott moved to pass the resolution, seconded by Ms. Wheaton and declared carried by Mr. Furrey upon affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Kearney, Mr. McDermott and Ms. Wheaton. Mr. Pitsker abstained.

8. Work Session

a. Subcommittee Reports

At this time Mr. Furrey commented he did not wish to discuss the subcommittees as they have already been discussed.

i. PS2/Transfer Station Subcommittee

Mr. Furrey tabled the discussion on this subcommittee until the next meeting.

ii. Sewer Service Area Subcommittee

Mr. Furrey stated he saw a reply received about the sewer service area map from Matt of the NJDEP who is working on the Town Center designation for the township. Ms. Bright confirmed, stated she circulated it to the board and advised she is still waiting for a response from Paul DeMuro of the NJDEP. Mr. Furrey asked Mr. Benosky to contact Kerry Pflugh of the NJDEP for a status update. Mr. Pitsker provided her contact information to Mr. Benosky. Mr. Furrey advised Ms. Pflugh is in charge of government affairs at the NJDEP and is the MUA liaison at the agency. Mr. Benosky confirmed he reached out today to her and will follow up.

iii. Solid Waste Subcommittee

Mr. Furrey tabled the discussion on this subcommittee until the next meeting.

iv. Bylaws/Personnel Subcommittee

Mr. Furrey tabled the discussion on this subcommittee until the next meeting.

v. Water Supply Subcommittee

Mr. Furrey tabled the discussion on this subcommittee until the next meeting.

vi. Finance Subcommittee

Mr. Furrey tabled the discussion on this subcommittee until the next meeting.

9. Administrative/LOR Updates:

a. 2021 Capital Projects

Ms. Bright stated discussion was previously held on some capital projects. She said one that was not discussed was the winch that needed to be repaired and possibly obtaining an electrical hoist that breaks down, is transportable between lift stations and commented it is a good investment.

b. Pump Station/Lift Station issues

Mr. Lazier said the call out was on December 26, 2020 for a pump failure where the wires were burned up, JEM Electric fixed it; however, the control switch does not work and a new one is required. Mr. Furrey advised vendor North Jersey Pump and Controls would be able to find one. Mr. Lazier advised on Tuesday JEM Electric came out and fixed an electrical problem at LaTouquet, it turned out to be a bad motor. He stated he put in for the five electrical panels. Mr. Pitsker stated these are critical components that are breaking down and asked the reason for the delay in correcting the issue. Mr. Lazier advised it is the cost and stated one vendor wanted $6,500.00 for one panel.

Ms. Bright advised for these expensive items written quotes from all companies must be obtained since there are so many of them to be ordered and advised the order cannot be put in until the budget is approved. Mr. Pitsker asked if one panel can be ordered in the interim with the controller part removed. Ms. Bright confirmed correct. Mr. Furrey stated this is an emergency situation which needs action for the system operation and requested the panel be ordered immediately.

Mr. Lazier commented about preventive maintenance items and staying on top of the debris collected in the systems. Mr. Furrey concurred and asked Mr. Lazier to order the screens. Ms. Bright advised nothing can be ordered until the budget is approved and quotes for them will be required. She stated a larger pump was ordered in 2017 at a cost of almost $7,000.00; however it is not known if it is the right fit. Mr. Lazier clarified it is a spare pump kept at Pump Station #3, it is oversized, may not be the right pump and stated there are no tags on it. He stated JEM Electric will come in to inspect it to determine if it is the right fit, the voltage and the right phase.

c. Backup LOR

Ms. Bright stated Chris Steelman the backup operator was provided with keys and met with Mr. Lazier and MUA staff: Mathew Duffy and Zachery Von Oesen to review the system. Mr. Lazier stated Mr. Steelman asked if anything with the system changed and he was advised it had not.

d. Staff Training

Ms. Bright said she obtained information from a confined space training company, and is looking into coordinating with the township fire department to save money by obtaining one price. Mike’s Mobile mentioned conducting training on January 19 or January 20. Mr. Lazier confirmed it will be a two day training course. Mr. Furrey commented about talking with Mike on the specifics of the training especially whether they need to learn the “mining confined space” and whether there is need for them to attend both days. He advised the trainer’s name is Harry Smith. Mr. Kearney commented the one day training may be the initial confined space training and two day may be a refresher course. Mr. Lazier confirmed he would check into the requirements and provide an update.

e. Emergency Situations RFP

Ms. Bright discussed assembling a bid to vendors for better pricing for a RFP, said she spoke with Mr. Benosky and Thomas F. Carroll, the qualified purchasing agent and is still under review.

f. Press Release

Ms. Bright stated she assembled her administrator’s report with the final copy to be circulated to the board. She advised she would like to make it the MUA press release to include information about the VFW connection issue resolution, the MUA 2020 budget savings, where the money went, the final financials and mindful use of funds’ spending. She stated once it is reviewed by the commissioners it will be posted on the MUA web site and provided to Vernon Mayor Howard Burrell for publication on Vernon Township website and Facebook if he wishes.

g. Force Main Evaluation Awards

Ms. Bright advised the pressure gauge installation portion of the bid award has been given to vendor Ferraro Construction Corporation, advised they had the lowest bid for the ARV replacements and said because it is over $17,500.00 a pay to play resolution will need to be drafted for review at the next meeting. She said Fred Cook had the lowest quote on the CCTV footage work. Once the purchase orders are in place, Mr. Lazier will coordinate with Wind River on a date to schedule a truck to pump it out. She said it is a three day process. Mr. Benosky confirmed he will attend the start of the process. Ms. Bright confirmed Fred Cook and Ferraro Construction acknowledged they need to work together on the CCTV and ARV footage.

h. Billing/Accounts Payable for 2021/Updates

Ms. Bright advised the owner of Green Realty called her, updated her he was out of town since the spring of 2020, was unaware of the MUA attempts to contact him and advised he will fill out paperwork for a connection in Spring 2021. Mr. Pitsker asked how many connections on route 94 corridor need to be hooked up. Ms. Bright stated the former Faline Building property (which is not on route 94) is not hooked up, was sold and the current owner met with her to review the connection application. She advised a resolution was done in November for the former owner’s application, the new owner is doing the actual hookup, is not changing anything and will retain his own engineer to provide plans for approval with the EDU’s to remain the same. She said there is one more home on route 94 that is still unconnected together with the former florist location on route 515 and she has not heard from the owner to date.

She stated the MUA meetings will be uploaded to YouTube and posted to the MUA website for public review.

She stated the accounts receivable is high this year compared to prior years, due to one of the largest commercial accounts’ nonpayment, Acme’s outstanding sewer bill and Black Creek unites. Mr. Furrey asked about the New Jersey State COVID funding mechanisms for water and sewer and whether the MUA would apply for it to make up the difference by nonpaying accounts. Mr. Wenner advised he would research it. Ms. Bright advised she will consult with the auditor on this funding. Mr. Furrey advised employees working in water and wastewater facilities are considered Class 1 D personnel and qualify for COVID vaccinations and can register.

10. Commissioners’ Comments

Mr. Pitsker lauded the completion of all outstanding 2020 minutes by Ms. Borell. Mr. Kearney asked about nonpayment of the largest sewer account. Mr. Wenner advised it will be discussed at Executive Session. Mr. Pitsker asked about the capital expenditure list and whether it will grow further. Ms. Bright confirmed she will review additional items that may be added. Mr. Pitsker asked about the easement Mr. Benosky referenced in correspondence, whether it needs to be done right away and advised the town is looking to place a trail in that area. Mr. Benosky advised he will research and provide his findings.

11. Chairman’s Comments

Mr. Furrey asked about the change in the meeting agenda. Mr. Pitsker and Mr. Kearney suggested maintaining the original agenda structure. Ms. Wheaton concurred. Mr. Furrey confirmed the agenda will remain the same format.

12. Adjournment

Motion to adjourn was made by Mr. Kearney seconded by Mr. McDermott which was declared carried by Mr. Furrey at 9:41 p.m. upon the affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Pitsker, Mr. McDermott, Ms. Wheaton and Mr. Kearney.

Respectfully submitted,
Colette J. Borell
MUA Recording Secretary

Minutes approved January 21, 2021