Minutes: October 24, 2013

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, October 24, 2013 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 January 8, 2013 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.

Thomas BuchneyP
Barbara ChorzepaP
Gloria GalloP
James KensekP
Stephen PiccirilloA
Roy TanfieldP
Vincent ZinnoA

Professional Staff Present

Attorney John Ursin, Engineer Ceren Aralp, Auditor Charles Ferraioli, and Executive Director John Scerbo

VTMUA Executive Director John Scerbo reported that Mr. Stephen Piccarillo called and said he was away on business and was unable to attend. Mr. Scerbo also reported that Chairman Vincent Zinno called and said he was unable to attend.

1. Open Meeting for Public Comment

Motion to open the meeting to the public
Made by Barbara Chorzepa
Seconded by Roy Tanfield
All in favor

Len Coloccia of Great Gorge Village asked about the township’s amended sewer pact with SCMUA and asked if the contract is available to the public. John Ursin said he could obtain it through OPRA as soon as the final copy of the contract is signed. Mr. Coloccia also asked if municipal or school board buildings are going to pay to connect. John Scerbo said they are not exempted from payment and said that decision was made during the June 2013 meeting.

Rich Roberts of Great Gorge Village asked what the EDU counts are for the municipal and board of education buildings. Engineer Ceren Aralp said the EDU calculations have not yet been set. John Ursin said formal applications have not yet been submitted, but they are in the works.

Close Meeting to the Public

Motion to close
Made by Thomas Buchney
Seconded by Barbara Chorzepa
All in favor

2. Approval of Minutes

Approval of Minutes for Regular Meeting of September 19, 2013

Motion to approve the minutes
Made by Roy Tanfield
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Call for Discussion: No discussion

All in favor
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, James Kensek, Gloria Frato, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Abstention: Barbara Chorzepa (absent for September 19, 2013 meeting)
Motion passed

3. Correspondence

A. A letter was received on September 23, 2013 from Ward Huey asking to be grandfathered under the 50% reduction in connection fee. Executive Director John Scerbo recommended granting the reduction, stating that an application had originally been filed in a timely manner but needed revision, which was completed after the deadline for the reduction. Everything is now in order.

Motion to grant reduction in fee was made by Thomas Buchney
Seconded by Roy Tanfield
All in favor
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

B. The VTMUA received a letter from Carlos Fardin of D & S Mall/Fiaca Associates requesting a hardship payment plan for his sewer connection fee. Executive Director John Scerbo recommended granting the request.

Motion to grant a hardship payment plan was made by Thomas Buchney
Seconded by Barbara Chorzepa
All in favor
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

4. Approval of Bills

Resolution 13-40: Payment of Bills

Motion to approve the bills
Made by Barbara Chorzepa
Seconded by Roy Tanfield

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

5. Resolutions

A. Resolution 13-41: Approving the Purchase of Various Equipment for the DPW Needed for Working in Confined Spaces while Servicing the Sanitary Sewer System

Motion to approve made by Thomas Buchney
Seconded by Roy Tanfield

Call for Discussion: None

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

B. Resolution 13-42: Endorsement of Treatment Works Approval Application for A&P

In addition to the VTMUA, this application must also be approved by the DEP, and SCMUA.

Motion to approve made by James Kensek
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Call for Discussion: No discussion

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

C. Resolution 13-43: Authorizing Payment of All Regulated Utility Bills of Less than $1,000 Prior to Formal Approval

Motion to approve made by Barbara Chorzepa
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Call for Discussion: No discussion

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

D. Resolution 13-44: Approving Hatch Mott MacDonald to Proceed with the Project to Define Certain Connection Points Via the Use of Camera at a Cost Not to Exceed $2,500

The properties affected are Master Plumbing, Vernon DPW, Vernon Lukoil, Vernon Valley Investors, and Waheguru Gas. They are unable to locate the connection points created during the installation of the sewer main. VTMUA staff performed visual inspections but were also unable to locate the cleanouts for these connection points; thus a video inspection of the sewer pipe is necessary to determine existence and location.

Motion to approve made by Barbara Chorzepa
Seconded by Thomas Buchney

Call for Discussion: No discussion

Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

6. Attorney’s Report

Attorney John Ursin reported that the VTMUA continues to address the lawsuit in which the VTMUA is a defendant. The hearing on the motion is in November.

Mr. Ursin also stated that the township has approved an agreement with the SCMUA, but it is not finalized yet. When the agreement is signed, he will distribute a copy to the commissioners. Highlights of the agreement are 1) In the future, instead of getting two separate bills from SCMUA, the VTMUA will get one bill. 2) The way the minimum flows were structured, there will no longer be a distinction of where new connections come from. 3) Under the old agreement, VTMUA got 60% of SCMUA’s connection fees back as a rate stabilization fund. However, in the previous agreement there was some ambiguity about which connections in the sewer service area would qualify for the 60% rebate, so the new agreement clarifies that any new connection for the next 1,000+ EDU connections will qualify and that clause is retroactive to January 1, 2013. By making it the entire sewer service district means that new connections outside the town center will now qualify.

7. Auditor’s Report

Auditor Charles Ferraioli reported that appropriations for the VTMUA, based on what was spent and what was encumbered, are on budget. On the revenue side, the VTMUA is short about $106,000. The VTMUA is also short on connection fees. It had budgeted $281,000 in connection fees and as of right now the VTMUA has collected $174,000. The shortfall is from the lack of town center connections and the A&P’s non-payment because it does not have approval to connect. For the 2014 budget, under state law the state requires the introduction of a budget before the year ends. If it is late, the VTMUA must pass a resolution specifying why it is late. Mr. Ferraioli recommends putting off the introduction of a budget before the end of the year because of yet unknown budget numbers from SCMUA. He said the 2014 budget could be introduced at the December 2013 meeting.

8. Engineer’s Report

New Application

A. VFW, Block 148, Lot 8

Tavern and banquet areas—4.5 EDUs allocated. No building permits should be issued without written approval of plans from the engineer.

Motion to approve made by Roy Tanfield
Seconded by James Kensek

Call for Discussion: Roy Tanfield asked why the VFW EDU rate was so high. John Scerbo stated they have a number of banquets and parties on a monthly basis that drives up the EDU calculations. They have between 4-8 parties per month with some months more and some months less.

All in favor
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

B. The pending EDU flow count for the Paterson property has been tabled until the November meeting.


Old Business

A&P Shopping Center, Block 145, Lot 1.05 Grease Trap

Motion to approve letter from Hatch Mott MacDonald by Thomas Buchney
Seconded by Barbara Chorzepa
All in favor
Ayes: Thomas Buchney, Barbara Chorzepa, James Kensek, Gloria Gallo, and Roy Tanfield
Nays: None
Motion passed

9. Executive Director’s Report

No report

10. VTMUA Commissioner Comments

Roy Tanfield questioned the $105,000 SCMUA bill the VTMUA just approved and discussed the incentives the township had in doing the acquisition altogether. John Ursin said if not for the acquisition, there would have been one bill to United Water and then sent a bulk tariff to the township. With the acquisition, the “middle man” was eliminated, he said.

Mr. Tanfield also asked about the limitations of what a commissioner could say during VTMUA meetings. He questioned whether anyone had the right to refuse hookup to the sewers if the property is within the sewer district. He questioned if that individual went out of business, could the VTMUA be held liable for the failure of that business for forcing hookup? Attorney John Ursin said generally utilities have not had a problem demonstrating a legitimate government public purpose in imposing mandatory restrictions—sewer, water, garbage, and so on. Governments generally have a lot of immunity with respect to torts, Mr. Ursin added. The risk to the township or to the VTMUA is low, providing the utility is acting according to statutes and following procedures.

Barbara Chorzepa questioned why the attorney or the chairman did not advise the commissioners that they could postpone or table action on the proposal to spend $16,000 for a study to determine how to calculate EDUs for hair salons and spas. She asked attorney John Ursin if the VTMUA could have tabled action until the following meeting where all the commissioners were in attendance. Mr. Ursin said they could have waited to take action. He confirmed for Ms. Chorpeza that the VTMUA had the options to approve or reject the proposal, or table taking any action until the following meeting. Ms. Chorzepa said she was not happy that the VTMUA had taken action when all the commissioners were not present on what had been a longstanding discussion for several months. She felt the chairman should not have specified that he needed a motion to either approve or deny the proposal but should have told the commissioners they had three options: to approve, table, or deny the proposal. John Scerbo said the chairman asked for a motion to approve, disapprove, or delay having a motion at all, but there was a long, drawn out silence for about 60-70 seconds, and as a result the chairman made the motion to deny the proposal. Ms. Chorzepa said she believes it was the responsibility of the attorney to instruct the chairman that since one of the commissioners had suggested tabling a decision until all commissioners were present. John Ursin said the commissioners were free to move as they saw fit and does not see that there was a procedural problem. Ms. Chorzepa said she was not satisfied with the response, but was done questioning.

Motion to Adjourn the Meeting

Made by James Kensek
Seconded by Roy Tanfield
All in favor
Meeting was adjourned at 8:07 p.m.

The next meeting of the VTMUA will be on November 7, 2013.

Transcribed and submitted by Jessica Paladini
Secretary, Vernon Township MUA