Minutes: July 2, 2020

These minutes are a synopsis of the meeting that took place on 7/2/2020. Copies of the recording are available at the office of the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority.

Call to Order

Chairman Furrey called the meeting to order remotely at 7:05 p.m. via Zoom.

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 January 20, 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 were present:
Michael Furrey
Kristin Wheaton
Paul Kearney
Dave McDermott
Andrew Pitsker

Mr. Furrey announced that member Angela Erichsen has resigned from the MUA.

Professionals: Donelle Bright, Administrator; Colette J. Borell, Recording Secretary, Ceren Aralp, Engineer and Richard Wenner, Attorney.

5. Executive Session (Closed to the Public)

At this time, Mr. Furrey referred to Item No. 6.

Ms. Wheaton moved to go into executive session for the purposes of discussing Interlocal Agreements and personnel. Mr. McDermott seconded the motion which was carried upon unanimous vote. After a short break the MUA went into executive session. Ms. Wheaton motioned to close executive session, which was seconded by Mr. Pitsker and carried via unanimous vote.

Mr. McDermott motioned to return to public session, seconded by Ms. Wheaton and carried via unanimous vote.

6. Open Meeting to the Public

Motion was made by Mr. Furrey to open the meeting to the public; it was seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried via unanimous vote.

Peg Distasi questioned the status of sewer capabilities at the Baldwin property, noting Council President Harry Shortway’s request to include in the trail system. In response to Ms. Distasi, Mr. Furrey explained and Mr. McDermott concurred this was a township council matter. Mr. Furrey informed the board would look into this matter.

No further members of the public came forward. Ms. Wheaton motioned to close the meeting to the public; it was seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried via unanimous vote.

7. Work Session

a. Sewer Service Area and the Asset Management Plan

Ms. Aralp updated the board that she will reach out to the NJDEP regarding the nitrate dilution model request. The board also needs to provide same with the updated letter from the Sussex County Health Department. She said they have not heard back from the NJDEP. Mr. Furrey informed that James McDonald, county health officer, was not aware of why the NJDEP would request this since this was for an expansion of the sewers into septic areas. Ms. Aralp confirmed the nitrate dilution model was related to the county buildout project with the NJDEP. In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Aralp explained she would have a better idea of what is needed following the NJDEP. In response to Mr. Pitsker, Ms. Aralp advised the delay was most likely due to work volume at the NJDEP.

Ms. Aralp informed the schedule had been circulated for review along with the force main proposal. She advised that the goal was to finalize the RFP and send it out next week. Ms. Bright informed she sent the RFP to Mr. Wenner and would distribute once it has been reviewed. Mr. Furrey noted that he would provide contractors. He informed there were significant issues with the force main by pump station #1 including poor drainage and the exposed gravity line.

b. Pump Station #2 Update - Funding Source and RFQ

In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Bright explained funding for drinking water systems usually offer large portions of debt forgiveness; with a sewer system IBank offers reduced interest rates and no interest for certain percentages of principal. She noted the application process began, but couldn’t be submitted without additional information. In response to Mr. Pitsker, Ms. Bright informed she did not have documentation on the costs for pump station #2 and requested Ms. Aralp to provide an estimate for the record. Mr. Furrey stated that the Dewberry engineering firm did a conceptual design for Mountain Creek and if a copy of that design could be obtained it would be beneficial to have.

Ms. Bright stated all commissioners should have a copy of the RFQ and that it was provided to Mr. Wenner. Mr. Wenner advised that his comments were noted on the draft with one question raised on the liability. He suggested the RFQ require the firms to provide a business continuity plan, which is imperative in light of COVID-19. Mr. Wenner confirmed he would provide language for such inclusion.

c. Town Council Liaison

In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Bright advised she notified the town council that Angela Erichsen had resigned from the board. In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Wheaton expressed her understanding that the appointing body would decide if Mr. Pitsker could move up to the voting member seat.

d. Purchasing Needs

i. Sentinel Systems

Mr. Furrey explained Sentinel monitors entry into the building and can monitor alarms. He stated that he and Mr. Kearney put together a list on what it would cost per system and that they are looking to install it in all three pump stations. He advised that one of the advantages with the sentinel system is that it can communicate to those in the field and the office. Ms. Bright informed she has sent out requests for quotes to multiple vendors and expressed confidence that they could cover all eight stations in the budget. Mr. Pitsker and Ms. Wheaton both concurred the systems would be a benefit to the system overall with regards to safety and recordkeeping.

ii. Pump Stations 1 & 2 as per Engineer

Ms. Bright stated that Ms. Aralp had already spoken to the update.

iii. Generators for Lift Stations

Ms. Bright stated Jack Grosser had researched the portable generator and the company quoted over $3,000.00. Ms. Bright confirmed she would circulate the quote to the commissioners.

e. Safety Review

Ms. Bright stated that she had not heard back from Mr. Grosser on the safety review and noted Mr. Grosser advised he had been performing a great deal of work at the request of Ms. Aralp.

8. Finance Report (Delinquencies and Current Billing)

Ms. Bright informed the board that every quarter a report is run on the accounts that are delinquent and noted that there is one outstanding large account overdue for Minerals in the amount of $80,000.00. She advised that she will reach out to them with the hope that the late payment is an oversight. She updated the board that one annual bill is now sent out and not the quarterly bills that were sent out previously.

Ms. Bright also explained she is gathering the necessary information for Acme and the other stores in the sewer service area to ensure that all is up to date for the engineer to explain to them exactly why they are being charged the EDUs for the property. Ms. Aralp updated the board that in the beginning the account holders had to submit an EDU estimate and at the time the property was not occupied. She explained some of the stores have changed hands over time and some converted from retail to restaurants, with each being individually reviewed at the time.

9. Commissioners’ Comments

Ms. Wheaton thanked Ms. Bright and Ms. Borell for getting caught up on the outstanding issues and asked about the status of the OPRA requests. Ms. Bright informed meeting minutes are only able to be provided under OPRA if they are approved by the board; the 2019 minutes are a work in progress. She advised that there are 250 emails under legal review. Mr. McDermott commented the wastewater management feasibility committee is on track.

10. Chairman’s Comments

None. At this time, Mr. Furrey referred to Item No. 5.

11. Adjournment

Motion for Adjournment at 9:45 p.m. was made by Mr. Pitsker, seconded by Mr. McDermott with all members voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,
Colette J. Borell
MUA Recording Secretary

Minutes approved September 17, 2020