Minutes: May 19, 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, May 19, 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 February 18, 2016 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 Gallo (by telephone at 7:10 p.m.)P
Thomas McClachrieP
Edward SnookP
Joseph TadrickA
Edward Seger (arrived at 7:27 p.m.)P
Vincent ZinnoA

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

Vincent Zinno moved to open the meeting to the public.
Thomas Buchney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was opened to the public.

Robert Constantine, Quartermaster of the VFW Post 8441, came forward and said the VFW had installed a water meter and they averaged only about 1 EDU. Only one time during the month they went over one EDU and that was by about 50 gallons, he said. He invited the VTMUA commissioners to see the meter reading for themselves. He feels assessing them two EDUs would be fair.

Sally Rinker of Vernon read from a prepared statement, saying she feels the EDU assessment for the VFW is an overcharge. She said the VFW situation does not fit any of the VTMUA schedules for rates and the VTMUA policies and state statutes would support granting the VFW a waiver from connecting to the sewers. She asked the VTMUA to waive the VFW’s connection fee and assess the VFW one EDU, as she feels that would more than cover their actual usage.

2. Close the Meeting for Public Comment

Vincent Zinno moved to close the meeting to the public.
Thomas Buchney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The public portion of the meeting was closed.

3. Consent Agenda

Resolution 16-35: Payment of May Bills

Vincent Zinno moved to pay the May 2016 bills.
Thomas Buchney seconded the motion.

Discussion: Thomas McClachrie questioned bills for Killam Associates. Executive Director John Scerbo said the payments were for Hatch Mott Macdonald. Engineer Ceren Aralp explained Killam Associates was Hatch Mott Macdonald’s previous name but the township is still billing under Killam.

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Gloria Gallo, Edward Seger, Vincent Zinno, and Edward Snook
Nays: Thomas McClachrie

4. Approval of Minutes

April 21, 2016 Regular Meeting

Thomas Buchney moved to approve the April 21, 2016 regular meeting minutes with an amendment to include authorizing the executive director to send a bill to Comet Management. Edward Snook seconded the motion.

Discussion: Thomas McClachrie questioned why certain “side” discussions were not in the minutes. Chairman Edward Snook stated several conversations were going on at the same time during the April meeting with more than one person talking at the same time and there were interruptions, making it unclear of what should be in the minutes.

Mr. McClachrie questioned policy and procedure regarding meeting minutes. Attorney Richard Wenner said what is required to be in minutes is governed by statute. Minutes are a recitation of official actions that occur and are not verbatim accounts of the meetings.

Mr. McClachrie said he wants to add to the April meeting minutes that the commissioners authorized Executive Director John Scerbo to send a bill to Comet Management for work the VTMUA had to remediate a clog created by a condominium resident.

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

5. Receipt and Filing of Correspondence

Letter Regarding Mountain Creek Resort Urgent Care Facility, 23 Route 94, Vernon, Dated May 10, 2106, for Release of Performance Bond

Vincent Zinno moved to receive and file the correspondence regarding a performance bond.
Thomas Buchney seconded the motion.
All were in favor.

6. Other Resolutions

A. Resolution 16-36: Amending the Rules and Regulations Relating to Sewer Area

This resolution adds Section 1.7, Sewer Service Area to the Rules and Regulations of the VTMUA.

Thomas McClachrie moved to adopt the amendment to the rules and regulations.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.

Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas McClachrie, Gloria Gallo, Edward Seger, and Edward Snook
Nays: Thomas Buchney and Gloria Gallo
Abstentions: Vincent Zinno

B. Resolution 16-37: Release of Performance Bond for Urgent Care and Acceptance of a Maintenance Bond

John Scerbo said the ownership of the facility is in question and after discussing the matter with the attorney he recommends not approving the release.

Vincent Zinno moved to pull the resolution regarding the performance bond and not approve it.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.

Discussion: Thomas McClachrie asked if there was a timeframe for returning the money. Attorney Richard Wenner said once the engineer approves releasing the bond, the VTMUA should act quickly to determine the owner of the facility and release the performance bond.

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

C. Resolution 16-38: Endorsing the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority, Block 141, Lot 13.01 and Block 148, Lot 5 as a Hardship Application

John Scerbo said the owner of these two properties is applying for a hardship as a result of a court summons from the VTMUA. The owner agreed with the municipal prosecutor that she would complete connections of the properties by June 15, 2016. Mr. Scerbo reported, however, that the owner’s son has now paid for both of the connection fees. After the township connection fees were paid, the applicant went to SCMUA to get a hardship payment plan but SCMUA will only grant one if the township grants one. In this case, SMCUA is asking the VTMUA to pass a resolution endorsing the fact that the VTMUA would have provided a hardship payment plan had the applicant asked for one so the SCMUA would have the grounds to offer its hardship plan.

Vincent Zinno moved to approve the resolution.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.

Discussion: Thomas McClachrie questioned the procedure for the hardship plan, and the executive director and the attorney explained it to him.

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

7. Chairman’s Comment

Chairman Edward Snook said before going to the attorney’s report as scheduled on the agenda, he wants to go to chairman’s comments first and address the VFW situation. The chairman moved to lower the VFW EDU count to two EDUs.

Thomas McClachrie seconded the chairman’s motion.

Discussion: Commissioner Vincent Zinno asked on what documentation Edward Snook was basing his request to lower the VFW’s EDU count.

Mr. Snook said the VTMUA does not work off of meters, and this is not a hardship request, but he knows how much use the VFW is getting out of the building. He said what they are doing with their bar section and their banquet hall, and since the VFW is a non-profit and a service organization in the township, he thinks they should drop the EDU count. Mr. Snook said they could put in the agreement that if things pick up for the VFW and they begin holding more banquets the VTMUA could revisit the EDUs. Mr. Snook said he feels their EDUs should be lowered because they are a non-profit organization.

There is not really a category in the rate table for the VFW. If the VFW could show what usage they have, the VTMUA could make an exception, he said.

Engineer Ceren Aralp said the VTMUA already did a rate determination for the VFW. Initially the EDU count was based on the number of seats but then came back to usage since there is no functioning kitchen and it is not really a banquet hall that functions all the time. In looking at the policy again, she said there is no category in which the VFW comfortably fits. Two categories that could be applicable are a gathering place/visitor center or assembly hall. These categories would need to be discussed.

Vincent Zinno said the VTMUA would also need to consider the occupancy of the building.

Executive Director John Scerbo said it was evaluated based on 45 seats and no kitchen with patrons bringing in food cooked off premise. Based on that evaluation, the calculation was reduced to 4.5 EDUs. He said if the EDU count is going to be lowered, it should be lowered based on some principle in the rate table.

Robert Constantine said the capacity for the banquet hall is 168.

Attorney Richard Wenner said if the VTMUA is going to explore reduction of the EDUs it should be within a defined category as opposed to an arbitrary number based upon a water reading. A policy needs to be set going forward, he said, rather than to go by users saying they want their reductions based on independently having installed water meters on their properties.

Chairman Edward Snook said he thinks they should consider non-profit organizations different from how they consider other users. Mr. Wenner and Ms. Aralp said the VTMUA would have to amend its regulations to do so.

Thomas McClachrie cited NJSA 40:15A-8 and said New Jersey statutes require MUAs to have justification for connection fees. Attorney Wenner said he was unable to find any documentation to support that.

Mr. McClachrie suggested assessing the VFW one EDU, but Mr. Wenner said the VTMUA cannot arbitrarily assess the VFW with an unidentifiable criteria for a reduction.

Vincent Zinno moved to authorize the attorney and the engineer to research the matter and get back to the VTMUA with a new use that would fit the building correctly so they could then consider amending the rules and regulations accordingly.

Gloria Gallo seconded the motion.

Discussion: Thomas McClachrie suggested assessing a carte blanche blanket exemption that is accepted throughout MUAs throughout the state or tailor it to assess one EDU for non-profits and require them to have meters for six months, after which the meters will indicate what they should be assessed.

Vincent Zinno cautioned against using non-profit terminology because a hospital could also classify as a non-profit.

Edward Snook said if the VTMUA is going to do an expansion, there are other volunteer service organizations that have halls and the VTMUA has to consider them all as one unit for this type of classification.

Thomas McClachrie said different categories of non-profits should be emphasized from a tax standpoint.

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

8. Attorney’s Report

No report

9. Auditor’s Report

Auditor Charles Ferraioli reported Engineer Ceren Aralp is looking into some grants for the VTMUA. Part of the process in getting the grant requires an income survey. Mr. Ferraioli will further research how to facilitate this.

10. Engineer’s Report

A. New Business

Taco Bell Restaurant

Ceren Aralp said there is one new application for Taco Bell. She recommended creating an escrow account to review the application. The restaurant will be constructed on Route 94 next to the Dunkin’ Donuts.

B. Old Business

None

C. Community Development Block Grant Application

Ms. Aralp also reported on the CDBG grant application. She said the township would have to be the applicant and at least 51% of the population must be middle to low income. A census study would also be required. John Scerbo spoke with Mayor Shortway to see if he received any documentation about the grant and the mayor said he had not. Ms. Aralp stated there is a grant workshop scheduled for June 29. She said invitations to the workshop would be sent to municipal mayors. Municipalities do not need to be ready to build in order to receive a grant, but there is a priority list and those ready are likely to get priority.

Thomas McClachrie questioned whether the VTMUA has an asset management plan. He said the VTMUA has been in existence for four years and they need to start coalescing a plan so they could look at various branches of the collection system because some of the laterals are older than others. He said the VTMUA has to have a plan in place.

John Scerbo said a year ago the VTMUA set aside $50,000 as a first step and took the I&I Study as the original vehicle to look at the oldest pieces of infrastructure in the ground. The second step was to expend money and use a grant they received to purchase a camera to do a periodical section by section detailed viewing of each of the sections of the infrastructure so they could build an inventory of what the structure looks like and be able to assess the primary, secondary, and tertiary problems that need to be fixed over time.

The commission discussed several property owners in the condominiums who have sump pumps illegally discharging into the sewer system. John Scerbo asked what authority they need in order to gain access to those four private properties. Attorney Richard Wenner said a letter stating they are in violation of the VTMUA’s rules and regulations should suffice and doing so could result in penalties and fines assessed against them if they do not disconnect within 30 days. The commission suggested copying the letters to Comet Management.

11. Executive Director’s Report

Executive Director John Scerbo reported receiving a check for the $380 for overtime cleanup work that was required as a result of asphalt dumping.

12. Commissioner Comments

Edward Seger said they had a good tour at SCMUA. One of the things mentioned was Pump Station 1 at Black Creek, which is a Mountain Creek liability that Mountain Creek needs to repair. He asked what condition the pump station was in and if it is being repaired in a timely fashion.

Ceren Aralp said that since renumbering, they refer to that as Sandhill Pump Station Number Two. She said it is functioning but not in good condition and is due for an upgrade. She said she does not know when the upgrade will occur but has asked Mountain Creek to include the VTMUA in the design process but has not heard anything yet. Edward Seger said that in conversations with SCMUA about it he got the impression the upgrade was dire.

Thomas McClachrie said he went through BPU records and reviewed the June 7, 2011 agreement between United Water and the BPU and at that point they were bringing in $1.21 million. At this point the VTMUA is bringing in $1.5 million. He would like Charles Ferraioli to review it and comment on it why the VTMUA is making less.

Mr. McClachrie also asked if they have as-built projections available for the Sandhill pump station to the regional pump station at SCMUA. Ceren Aralp said they do not.

Thomas McClachrie also stated that the VTMUA does not have justification for the EDUs. He said the SCMUA said the fee they are basing EDUs on is their connection fee, but the VTMUA is using the connection fee as a usage fee. He said state statutes require justification for connection fees and the VTMUA does not have them. Richard Wenner said there is a lack of documentation regarding connection fees. Charles Ferraioli said he testified in four connection fee cases for clients in other municipalities and they won all four cases. He said all of his clients have connection fees. The theory is that a connection fee is necessary when a municipality first starts operating a sewer system because there is only so much flow, so original users pay the debt service for the whole project. Thomas McClachrie said the debt drives the connection fee.

John Scerbo said they are about two months away from considering next year’s budget for the VTMUA. He said the VTMUA could consider Mr. McClachrie’s suggestion for the next budget rather than start midyear.

Adjournment

Vincent Zinno moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:43 p.m.
Edward Seger seconded the motion.
All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on June 16, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Vernon Township MUA Secretary