Minutes: June 18, 2020

Regular Meeting Minutes

These minutes are a synopsis of the meeting that took place on 6/18/2020. Copies of the recording are available at the office of the VTMUA.

1. Call to Order

The regular meeting of the VTMUA was convened remotely June 18, 2020 via Zoom and called to order by Chairman Michael Furrey at 7:01 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 January 20, 2020 by delivering to the press such notice and posting same at the municipal building and filed with the office of the VTMUA 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
Kristin Wheaton
Paul Kearney
Dave McDermott
Andrew Pitsker

The following members were absent:

Angela Erichsen

Professionals: Donelle Bright, Administrator; Colette J. Borell, Recording Secretary; Ceren Aralp, Engineer; and Robert McNinch, Auditor.

5. Open Meeting to the Public

Mr. Furrey motioned to open the meeting to the public, which was seconded by Mr. Kearney and unanimously carried.

No one wishing to be heard, Mr. Furrey motioned to close the meeting to the public. Mr. McDermott seconded the motion, which was carried via unanimous vote.

6. Work Session

A. Sewer Service Area and the Asset Management Plan

Sewer Service Area - Ms. Aralp stated that the wastewater management plan is still pending with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (the “NJDEP”), with two outstanding items: the first is the updated letter from the Sussex County Health Department; and the second is the nitrate dilution model. She is working with the NJDEP on providing the updates they needed and will set up another meeting with them. She advised the NJDEP switched the reviewers to expedite the process. Mr. Kearney questioned the nitrate dilution model request as the system provides transmission to a sewerage treatment plant. He believed this model should fall on the County; Ms. Wheaton concurred. Ms. Aralp clarified the County has an application with an already completed dilution model. The County needs to include the expansion request of the Township. She further explained the MUA wanted to complete their review as soon as possible, so it fell under the MUA purview.

Asset Management Plan - Ms. Aralp said the asset management plan was completed with just the two force mains remaining at pump station #2 and pump station #3 remaining to be assessed further as these are critical infrastructure. She is working on the evaluation and how to move forward with CCTV footage, which will include replacements of air release valves. She confirmed she would have the RFP to Ms. Bright within a few weeks for approval before sending to contractors. Mr. Pitsker asked Ms. Aralp for a project timeline / flowchart checklist for review. In response to Mr. Pitsker, Ms. Aralp advised she would provide a checklist and timeline to the board. Mr. Furrey advised the board that the updated letter and documentation from 2016 was requested from the county and advised that he will follow up with the township engineer Corey L. Stoner.

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

Funding Source - Mr. Furrey stated pump station #2 is the most pressing item for the system and the RFP covered all the scopes of work for the upgrade, any kind of necessary rehabilitation of the force mains and that it will be considerable work to be taken on by the MUA. He advised it involves approving the AMP, which coincides with funding approval from NJIB. He suggested finalizing the RFQ for a special engineer by August 1, 2020. Ms. Wheaton stated that the transfer station conversion potential should be included in the scope of the RFQ. In response to Ms. Wheaton, Mr. Pitsker and Mr. Furrey both concurred the transfer station expansion should be included in the RFQs for special engineer. Mr. Pitsker commented that the prior engineering reports that are available should be provided.

REQ - Ms. Bright stated that the board does not have to wait until the next meeting to approve the RFQ. Mr. Furrey asked Ms. Bright to proceed with the necessary revisions and circulate the RFQ. In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Bright stated she would finalize the RFQ and send to all commissioners prior to posting. Ms. Wheaton asked if by moving it sooner this would be a submission of the asset management plan without the force main evaluation. In response to Ms. Wheaton, Ms. Bright advised, in order for NJIB to take into consideration paying for Pump Station #2, the project would need inclusion in the asset management plan. Ms. Bright confirmed the application has been started; however, it requires additional information completed by the engineer. Ms. Aralp advised that she would assemble a summary and recommendation of steps to be taken.

C. Feasibility Committee Update - MUA / Utility

Mr. Kearney explained Wastewater Feasibility Committee summary will be presented to the Council and then made public. Mr. McDermott commented the general consensus by the Committee is that the MUA is doing a good job. Mr. Kearney added all members worked together, showing much can be accomplished in Vernon by working together. Mr. Furrey noted this was positive news.

D. Township Council Liaison

No comments were provided at this time.

7. Approval of Bills

Mr. Furrey made a motion to approve the bills list, which was seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried upon unanimous vote.

8. Approval of Minutes

Ms. Bright stated that the minutes are pending finalization for the May 21, 2020 meeting and that there was no roll call and or a motion at that meeting to approve the minutes from the April 16, 2020 and the April 30, 2020 meetings. She advised the commissioners that all minutes to be posted on the website must be approved by the board. She requested that three motions be taken for each one of the meetings.

A. April 16, 2020 Regular Meeting

Mr. Pitsker made a motion to approve the minutes, which was seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried upon unanimous vote.

B. April 30, 2020 Regular Meeting

Mr. McDermott made a motion to approve the minutes, which was seconded by Mr. Pitsker and carried upon unanimous vote with the exception of Ms. Wheaton who abstained.

C. May 21, 2020 Executive Session

D. May 21, 2020 Regular Meeting and Executive Session

Ms. Wheaton made a motion to approve both sets of minutes, which was seconded by Mr. McDermott and carried upon unanimous vote.

In response to Mr. Pitsker, Ms. Bright informed the 2019 minutes were outstanding due to staff turnover and during the period of time when there was no Executive Director. Mr. Furrey confirmed that he reached out former MUA Executive Director John Perry about the November 2019 meeting and a response from him was pending. Mr. McDermott, Mr. Kearney, and Ms. Wheaton expressed concern over outstanding minutes. Ms. Bright advised she has contacted Mr. Wenner regarding his law firm’s notes of the meetings.

9. Consent Agenda

A. Resolution for Review of Audit

Ms. Bright updated the Finance Committee met to review the audit and went over the findings and the recommendations as well as the corrective action plan. She did not include the whole audit in the meeting packet due to the length; however, she reminded she sent the audit document separately to the board with hard copies to be provided under separate cover once the office is opened.

B. Resolution for Corrective Action Plan

Mr. McNinch commented 2019 was a good year for the authority, ending in assets of $6.3 million with liabilities of $6.1 million leaving the authority with a net worth of $240,000.00. This was an increase of $107,000.00. The most important item was that the MUA received outstanding cash from Mountain Creek, enabling it to meet obligations. He stated the three findings were fixable and the authority is working to resolve same; he noted they were due to changes in the records during the year and the change in the accounting software. Mr. McNinch lauded Ms. Bright and her team for working in getting the information needed for the audit during the quarantine.

Ms. Wheaton questioned regarding the dates in the corrective action plan. Mr. McNinch responded that he believed the process has been started with the authority catching up on the minutes; the discrepancy is more of a conversion issue and from a clerical and administrative end these things are now being centralized. Ms. Bright concurred that they are working on getting the copies of last year’s contracts and are working on the minutes and concurred with Mr. McNinch that the accounting change in the middle of the year will not be repeated. She added they are moving forward with the contracts for this year and are up to date.

Motion to approve Resolution the Review of Audit was made by Ms. Wheaton, seconded by Mr. McDermott and approved via the affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Kearney, Mr. McDermott, Ms. Wheaton and Mr. Pitsker; with no nays or abstentions.

Motion to approve Resolution for Corrective Action was made by Mr. Pitsker, seconded by Mr. McDermott and approved via the affirmative votes of Mr. Furrey, Mr. Kearney, Mr. McDermott, Ms. Wheaton and Mr. Pitsker; with no nays or abstentions.

Ms. Bright advised the board that the group audit affidavit will need to be signed by all the commissioners and to contact the office regarding same.

10. Purchase Needs

Mr. Furrey asked Ms. Bright discussing the Sentinel system implementation and whether board approval was required to initiate the purchase of the system. In response to Mr. Furrey, Ms. Bright advised board approval is not required to move forward on the Sentinel systems, as it is within the bid threshold. She advised that there is enough money in the capital budget. Ms. Bright advised the current bid threshold is $44,000.00. Mr. Furrey requested Ms. Bright gather quotes so the board can address this at the next meeting. At this point Mr. Furrey asked to table discussions on generator information and repairs for the next meeting.

11. Commissioners’ Comments

Ms. Wheaton asked whether any of the commissioners had heard from Angela Erichsen. In response to Ms. Wheaton, Ms. Bright confirmed she would reach out to the township for the contact information for Ms. Erichsen. Ms. Wheaton asked about the town council liaison. Mr. Furrey responded that he contacted the mayor and business administrator with the MUA request for a liaison. Ms. Bright advised she would follow up with the town council on the status of the request.

12. Chairman’s Comments

In response to Ms. Wheaton, Mr. Furrey informed he reached out to the mayor and the business administrator with the request for a council liaison.

13. Executive Session (Closed to the Public)

Motion to enter into Executive Session to discuss contract negotiations was made by Mr. Pitsker, seconded by Mr. Kearney and carried upon unanimous vote.

14. Adjournment

Motion to adjourn was made by Mr. McDermott, seconded by Ms. Wheaton with all members voting in favor. The Regular Session Meeting of the Vernon Township Municipal Utility Authority was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Colette J. Borell
MUA Recording Secretary

Minutes approved November 5, 2020