Minutes: March 21, 2019

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, March 21, 2019 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 February 21, 2019, as well as posted on the bulletin board in the municipal building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6.

Salute to the Flag

Ed Seger led in the salute of the flag.

Roll Call

Thomas BuchneyA
John AubergerP
Ed SegerP
John PerryA
Kristin WheatonA
Paul KearneyP
Dave McDermottP

Ed Seger to serve as chairman in John Perry’s absence.

Pronouncement of a Quorum

Ed Seger pronounced that we have 4 board members, so we have a quorum.

Roll Call of Professionals

Executive Director John ScerboP
Attorney Richard WennerP
Auditor Robert McNinchP
Engineer Ceren AralpP

Public Comment

John Auberger made a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Seconded by Paul Kearney.
No discussion.
All were in favor.

Seeing no one come forward, John Auberger moved to close the meeting to the public.
Seconded by Paul Kearney.
All were in favor.

Consent Agenda

Resolution 19-22: Authorizing the Payment of Bills for March 21, 2019

Ed Seger recommends paying the bills.

Motion made by Paul Kearney.
Seconded by Dave McDermott.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes-John Auberger, Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott

Other Resolution

Resolution 19-23: Addendum to Inter-Local Service Agreement with the Township of Vernon and the VTMUA for Financial Services to Include Purchasing

Motion made by Paul Kearney.
Seconded by Dave McDermott.


Ed Seger read the resolution out loud.

John Scerbo stated that he and the auditor had a meeting with the CFO for Township of Vernon. The CFO had budgeted an additional $100,000.00 to the SCMUA expense account.

VTMUA receives a bill annually from SCMUA during the November time frame. By December they finalize what our amounts were for the year. When that came in the number was $100,000.00 over that was not budgeted that way. The auditor was told by the CFO that this was available to be charged. Sometimes it works out and we get lucky. The agreement has to go to John Perry to be signed by him and the mayor.

There are 2 e-mails attached to the resolution that provide background on the amount.

Roll Call Vote:

As John Auberger was abstaining from voting, Rich Wenner said it was OK to vote with only three board members.

Ayes-Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott
Abstain-John Auberger

Approval of Minutes

Motion made by John Auberger to approve the minutes of February 21, 2019.
Seconded by Paul Kearney.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes-John Auberger, Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott

Approval of Executive Session of February 21, 2019

Motion made by John Auberger to approve minutes of executive session of February 21, 2019.
Seconded by Dave McDermott.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes-John Auberger, Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott



Auditor Report

Began doing some preliminary audit procedures on VTMUA 2018 overhead. The CFO in working on the rest of the reports that were requested. Hoping to have later this month or by next month should have everything.

Attorney Report

Nothing at this time.

Engineer Report

Review of New Applications


Old Business


Status of Asset Management Study

Ceren is continuing to work on the asset management. The wastewater management plan amendment in on hold waiting for DEP responses as reported previously. Had a brief discussion this week with DEP and they are not likely to submit reviews within the next couple of months, so we are waiting on them. It might be June for the report so Ceren will keep calling them

Ed Seger would like to know if it would help if the mayor or someone else called. Ceren said not yet.

No questions from anyone else.

Executive Director’s Report

The copy of the annual report drafted by John Perry and John Scerbo was submitted to the government body/Township of Vernon, as required. The report is to be submitted on an annual basis. The report covers highlights of what the rates are with SCMUA, what our capacities are, the issue of asset management, the issue of where we are with the wastewater management plan amendment. It gives a comprehensive view of the highlights as things are gong forward with Mountain Creek and everybody.

Ed Seger had a question-Are payment being made to SCMUA.

John Scerbo-There have been no payments.

The director brought up the problems with the body of the truck being used for MUA. The doors have snapped off in the back. This has to do with the welding and the pop-rivets. We have sent pictures to A & K who is the manufacturer of the body. We are waiting for a reply. If they would have the appropriate parts, we would send the truck to them to be fixed. We wanted an aluminum body due to the previous rust issues.

The director stated that in 2018 Jack had dropped his private phone in the poop. It was voted that we replace his phone at that time. The board the passed a resolution to get cell phones from Verizon. The phones were to be indestructible. The batteries did not hold a charge well and they did not have reliable service in certain parts of town. Called Verizon for 3 new phones but they were out of stock and for 35-45 days we were still using the defective phones. Jack was still using his private phone and dropped it in the poop and it had to be replaced again. Jack contacted John Scerbo who contacted John Perry and based on practice from before we were going to replace his phone. The CFO had major objections. She finally e-mailed John Perry asking him what does he want to do? John Perry indicated that he wanted the phone replaced because we set up a practice before. The CFO then challenged him in another e-mail asking him for what the vote was because she misinterpreted the e-mail he sent her. He was talking about the fact that it was voted for the 1st time setting up the practice to replace the phone.

John Scerbo would like a motion to go on the record, if the board approves, to have Jack’s phone replaced so John Perry can report to the CFO that it was voted on. The cost is not to exceed $975.00.

Motion made by Paul Kearney.
Seconded by Dave McDermott.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes-Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott
Abstain-John Auberger


Paul Kearney-Here is another example of something brought up at the last minute. Discussions with the chairman not here to speak on this matter and the CFO questioned it and is also not here. We’re kind of blind on an issue that there’s been other discussions about that we are not privy to. That’s my thoughts on it.

Not a yes or no. There are just other discussions going on and we’re to make a decision on something that none of us were privy to.

Ed Seger-Spoke to the CFO about the situation and she had done some digging during that time period and she felt the phones were active and working properly so private phones shouldn’t have been used. Ed hasn’t seen any backup from the CFO.

John Scerbo saw the backup and the defective phones were periodically active. The problem was they didn’t hold a charge and they were unreliable. We have new phones. It was only during that 35-45 day period.

Ed Seger-We don’t want to create a policy on this. It was a one time shot because our equipment wasn’t working properly he used his private phone. This goes down a dangerous road with personal property. We’re being held liable for personal property. We don’t want to be there, but at the same time Jack was trying to be helpful by using his own phone.

Paul Kearney-Going forward we need to put something out there that we’re not doing it again. If these phones prove to work you’ll be on your own. If we go ahead and vote to replace his phone, I’d be fine with that. It can’t be an ongoing situation where “I don’t like my phone anymore so I’ll get it replaced.” It is a perception people would have but we can’t prevent that.

Rich Wenner-Cell phone use policy was adopted last year by the board. It does address the obligation of the employee to exercise due care in handling township or MUA provided equipment. Extend the same obligation to the employee is using their own personal equipment. Not to just toss it into the tank or be careless or negligent with use and phone not secured. Going forward if that were to happen again, the circumstances under which that happened would have to be looked at. At that time were you exercising reasonable care or were you being careless?

Paul Kearney-If new phones are working there should be no need to use personal phones. In theory this shouldn’t happen again. Like when you vehicle, took care of because your using it for work purposes. There are precedence’s on this. We can probably take care of it this time but going forward as log as those MUA issued phones are working then that is what has to be used.

Ed Seger-Could have another situation where the battery was dead so I used my personal phone. How do you prevent that?

Paul Kearney-The guys should have phone chargers.

Ed Seger-They should keep them charged. If it’s a one time shot I can live with that. My concern is looking like we give people phones whenever they want to dump it in a tank.

Paul Kearney-I work in water all ay and can easily see something like that happening because the 2 ways where I work have dead spots in our plant. Sometimes a guy is over the other end he might take out his phone to get the message across and the same thing could happen there and I would hope that if my guy comes to me my commissioner would replace their phone. So I’m looking at it from both sides of the fence. But a message has to be going forward nothing malicious.

Ed Seger-I trust the guys. But from the standpoint of rate payers we need to make sure that we’ve got limits.

John Scerbo-The amount is $914.00. We were going to pay him monthly. Jack said if at all possible his payments come due the 18th of the month. It’s a pain for us on a paperwork basis to have him apply every month for payment. We should pay it all at once.

Ed Seger-How much is he paying on his phone? He bought a phone and may have paid a quarter of it. Is it a new phone? Are we paying for the whole thing?

Paul Kearney-We have to replace, in kind, whatever phone he had. Whatever cost of the phone is. If he had a $900-$1000 phone we can’t replace it with a 200 phone.

Ed Seger-My point is if he had a $1000 phone and paid off $00, wouldn’t you just reimburse the $200? That’s what he lost. Ok I see you’re right Paul.

Paul Kearney-He still has to pay for the phone.

John Scerbo-The amount is $914 for discussion purposes. I will look up the amount/paperwork.

Rich Wenner-The amounts not to exceed $950. I want the board to approve a number that’s going to be at least above and not to exceed.

Ed Seger-I’d rather it not be above.

John Scerbo-Can you approve it based on a number on the documentation that Jack submitted and then I’ll somehow get that number into the minutes? I don’t have all that paperwork in front of me.

Ed Seger-So what we want to do is pay for what he paid for the phone? That’s what we’re trying to approve.

Rich Wenner-You’re authorizing payment for something that you don’t know what the dollar amount is. So at a minimum we should be able to not exceed.

Ed Seger-Right.

Multiple board members stating $950 with a cap at $1000?

Ed Seger-remake a motion for $975.

Paul Kearney-Make a motion to replace the phone at a cost no higher than $975.
Seconded by Dave McDermott.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes-Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott
Abstain-John Auberger

John Scerbo has gotten quotes on annual cleaning of the wet wells for sludge build-up that takes place at the bottom. Waiting for quotes back from the vendors.

John Scerbo would also like to get approval of the purchasing function to heads back to finance. I’d also like to get a motion from the board to have the auditor assist in the transfer of the function where it is today an where it should go. The new system is not working well for the MUA.

Ed Seger-I don’t understand, please help me to.

John Scerbo-In the beginning with the previous CFO, we would create a purchase order request that we would send to the finance department and they would come back with a purchase order for that item. I would get the chairman to sign the purchase order and the CFO to sign the purchase order, send it out to the vendor and the vendor would sign the purchase order and return it to me. I would attach the billing information/packing slip and send it to finance. When the new CFO arrived, she decided to pass the purchase order function out to the departments. I’ve tried working with that and unfortunately it’s multiple steps multiple times. I have to go to John Perry for signature which delays payment and puts us in a pickle, so to speak. I have been working that for a little over 3 months and so I have a set of things done under the new system and when we take it all back and put it in finance I’m looking for assistance from the auditor on the transfer so we have nothing lost and everything covered.

Robert McNinch-Not sure if I understand the idea of wanting another set of eyes. I’m not sure if I want to get involved with this. I may want to be independent of this. Maybe we can find another set of eyes? A 3rd party to oversee that? Possibly a QPA or another party? I want to stay as separate as possible from the day to day.

Rich Wenner-Agrees with Robert as he signs off on the year end audit.

Paul Kearney-The chairman the purchase orders. His input would be useful. Should we table this until the next meeting? I would like to hear John Perry’s input and opinion.

Ed Seger-Do we have another process or procedure to use? What are you trying to avoid?

John Scerbo-Trying to make sure it all gets transferred properly and that nothing gets lost or dropped.

Ed Seger-We do pay the finance department here right? I mean they’re part of our purchasing?

John Scerbo-Yes-Maybe between finance and the QPA we can get it done.

Ed Seger-Let’s see is that works and then revisit it next month.

John Scerbo-That’s fine. I appreciate it.

John Scerbo-Everyone has a copy of the ADA Authority View magazine in their packets. The ADA commissioners supper is on Monday, April 8th at 6PM. There is no cost as we are members. The topic is cyber issues. If anyone is interested in going please let me know. The dinner is in Short Hills.

Commissioners’ Comment


Chairman’s Comments


Executive Session

WHEREAS, the Open Public Meetings Act N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 permits the exclusion of the public in certain circumstances; and

WHEREAS, this public body is of the opinion that such circumstances presently exist.

NOW, THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Vernon Township Municipal Utilities Authority of the Township of Vernon as follows:

  1. The public shall be excluded from discussion of and action upon the hereinafter specified subject matter.
  2. The general nature of the subject matter to be discussed is litigation.

Motion made at 7:35 p.m. by Dave McDermott to go into Executive Session to discuss personnel and potential litigation.
Seconded by Paul Kearney.

Roll Call Vote:

Ayes-John Auberger, Ed Seger, Paul Kearney, Dave McDermott