Montville Township Committee Special Meeting
Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 8:30 p.m.
Montville Township Municipal Building, 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, New Jersey
8:30 p.m. – Statement of Open Public Meetings Act Compliance read by Chairman James Sandham, Jr.: “As required by the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been provided which notice specified the time and place of the meeting to the extent known at that time. The notice was posted on the bulletin board at the Municipal Building, sent to the Daily Record, and the Citizen, posted on the Township’s website calendar, and placed on file at the Township Clerk’s office. This meeting has been properly noticed to the public in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.”
Roll call Township Committee:
Present: Committeeman Tim Braden
Committeeman Don Kostka
Committeeman Scott Gallopo
Committeewoman Deb Nielson
Chairman James Sandham, Jr.
Also present: Adam Brewer, Management Specialist
Frederic Knapp, Special Township Attorney
Gertrude Atkinson, Township Clerk
SPECIAL JOINT MEETING WITH THE BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS TOWACO/DISTRICT #2 REGARDING DEFEATED FIRE DISTRICT #2 BUDGET
RESOLUTION NO. CES-031611 PROVIDING FOR A MEETING NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE NEW JERSEY OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT, N.J.S.A. 10:4-12: Attorney-client privilege.
Motion: Nielson. Second: Kostka. All in favor. Resolution adopted.
At 8:30 p.m. – Closed Session. At 9:00 p.m. – Public Session.
Chairman Sandham read the Statement of Open Public Meetings Act Compliance again for the record.
Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance led by Committeeman Gallopo.
DISCUSSION FIRE DISTRICT #2/TOWACO 2011 BUDGET:
Chairman Sandham thanked everyone for coming out tonight and the fire commissioners for coming out. We have until next Monday night at 5 p.m. to submit changes to this budget. We have found out that there is a potential to ask for an extension. Would like to have deliberations tonight. We cannot discuss personnel issues on an individual position by position basis at this point in time, but we can discuss line items. We will not be talking about positions specifically. We understand the commissioners had a meeting tonight.
Richard Conklin, Vice-President of the Board of Fire Commissioners District #2, stated they had their reorganization meeting tonight: Kenneth Breeman, President; Richard Conklin, Vice-President; Michael Ward, Interim District Clerk; Leigh Witty, Treasurer; and Bill MacStudy, Commissioner.
Conklin stated the Board of Fire Commissioners set their budget. We stand by our numbers. Our budget this year is $5,000 less than it was last year. If we can come up with another $2,500, we have reduced our budget by 1% over last year. Morris County Freeholders, Township Committee, Board of Education – I don’t think your numbers will go down. Our board has reduced our budget by 1% - if we can give you another $2,500. We believe that the vote on this budget was a mandate on other issues. Since that time, the administrator has submitted his resignation, and we conditionally have accepted that tonight. That is not going to generate any immediate savings for the board. There are some payouts for him. We are in discussions with another position that we think will be leaving by the end of the year. We are already four months into the year. With those positions gone, we will also have to do some outsourcing. We are sure that our professional services are going to be more than we budgeted. Legal and accounting fees. We are asking this board if we can give back another $2,500, and we will address this next year.
Sandham stated I appreciate where you are coming from in that you want to keep your budget intact for the firemen. The Township lost 3% of our funding in our budget this year. The Board of Education lost 5% of their budget.
Committeeman Braden stated this is obviously a very controversial topic. I am sure we will have a lot of public input, and I would like that now so we can use that in our deliberations.
PUBLIC PORTION: Ron Young, 11 Waughaw Road, Towaco, stated he looked at the budget. I was confused because there was no rhyme or reason for certain items. The firemen need the equipment. They do a great job. I felt for years the budget was hidden. Times our tough. If they need the money give it to them, but you need to know what it is being used for. The money needs to be used to protect the firemen.
Scott Russell, 8 Sunset Court, Montville, stated this question is from last meeting. Where is the handbook that we asked for? This is not about the firemen. A big part of our concern is there is a budgetary issue and a secrecy. Where are all the answers to the questions we made last time? If we made mistakes over the years - town council, citizens, fire district, let us correct them for the good of the town.
Robert Kessler, 17 Roome Road, Towaco, stated he appreciates what the firemen are doing. The interest is in training and fire equipment. Would like you to make sure there is enough in there for that. I think there are minimum standards that have to be met.
Truscha Quatrone, 4 Majorca Road, Towaco, stated Mr. Russell posted an editorial on Montville Patch for voters to reject the Towaco Fire District budget. Mr. Russell could not vote in Towaco, he is a Montville resident. Mr. Russell did not make the same request of the fire district in Montville. I am troubled that Mr. Conklin could not answer questions about the budget. The administrator and the fire inspectors will be gone. What has not been determined is who will do their job when they are gone. I understand they are the hazmat technicians. Our entire water supply is in the Towaco aquifer and Route 287 runs the length of the aquifer. One accident involving a spill and our entire water system could be damaged. What protection is planned for it? The tea people defeated the budget and yet there has been no talk about the public safety.
Russell stated Towaco is his voting district. This is not a political issue. We were asked to get involved with this because of the lack of transparency. We support the firemen. We want the money to go into safety. We are doing this for the better of the town to reduce taxes if possible.
Robert Lefkowitz, 81 Windsor Drive, Pine Brook, asked is the budget paid for by the residents of Towaco or does it get split between all the budgets?
Young stated you cannot do away with a fire official and a fire inspector. They have to be funded by the fees they take in.
Dan Pagano, 11 Roome Road, Towaco, stated Mr. Conklin said the budget passed last year. My question was how many people voted. My understanding is that the fire subcode official is an employee of the township and the fire inspector works for the district. I would like to know who wrote the handbook, when it was written, who reviewed it, and who approved it. When we made phone calls it was because people were not aware. There is nothing on the website, sign boards, etc. Let’s not pretend these elections are public information. That is what is wrong.
Maxim Sapozhnikov, 66 Davenport Road, Montville, asked who wrote the handbook and is it in use with other municipal employees. When the Board of Education budget was defeated the cuts were in services and there were fees for many things. What I am afraid this year with this budget if cuts are introduced as a taxpayer will we be held hostage? Will services and equipment and training be cut? The cuts should be directed where they should be directed.
Conklin stated our spreadsheet has the breakdowns. $14,000 was for payroll taxes. $20,000 was a combination of two items – life insurance and workers’ compensation. Last year there were 150 votes. We generally have good turnout in Towaco. Every election is published in the newspaper. Lesson learned – we are going to publicize it more going forward.
Hearing no further comments, Chairman Sandham closed the public portion. Motion: Braden. Second: Kostka. All in favor. Motion approved.
Sandham responded to Mr. Young. The fees range from about $30,000 to $40,000.
He responded to Mr. Russell. We can’t talk about personnel issues. As far as secrecy and what Ms. Quatrone said, there have been lessons learned about this process.
Sandham responded to Mr. Lefkowitz. The funding comes from taxes charged within those districts.
Sandham stated Ms. Quatrone brought up the safety of the residents and the firemen. We talked about that. We are trying to find places where there is excess money being spent other than in safety and fire equipment. The handbook – we have asked this ourselves. When was it adopted, does it meet state statutes?
Township Committee comments:
Committeeman Kostka stated when he went through the budget of $745,000; $286,000 is being allocated to salaries for approximately three individuals. That makes up 38% of the budget. This didn’t happen overnight. One of the issues is to make sure the firemen have the equipment they need and to make sure the firehouse is staffed. But to spend $238,000 for three people is outrageous.
Committeeman Gallopo stated he would like to reiterate when Mr. Kostka just said. He would like more for the firemen. That really is the heart of the problem with the budget. He would like to make sure the money is being used the way it should be used, and we are not overtaxing the residents.
Sandham stated I think this Township Committee has the view of trying to cut administrative expenses.
Kostka made proposal to reduce the administrative salaries and wages, fringe benefits, and payroll taxes line item by $75,000. Second: Gallopo. Discussion: Sandham stated that is administrative costs. We are leaving it up to the commissioners to set how that is done. Roll call vote – Braden, yes; Kostka, yes; Gallopo, yes; Nielson, yes; Sandham, yes. Motion approved.
Committeewoman Nielson stated all of us up here deeply appreciate all of the first responders’ efforts. We are certainly aware there are issues with the handbook, etc. We understand this is a tough task for you guys.
Sandham stated I am not going to recommend any line item reductions - landscaping, etc. I know that was reduced from the 2010 budget. I would like you guys to take a look at it and try to reduce it yourselves. We would like to see you invest for the safety of the men and the residents. I have faith that you will do that.
Adam Brewer, Management Specialist, stated it is our responsibility to submit a line item budget document to the DCA. Could we be specific as to how we would like that filed.
Braden stated I think it can be worked out by the professionals.
Sandham stated through our allocation process if we come up different in line items, they can be realigned by the commissioners, but the total budget will be reduced by $75,000.
RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING THE BUDGET FOR MONTVILLE TOWNSHIP FIRE DISTRICT NO. 2:
WHEREAS, the legal voters voting in the annual election (02/19/11) on the budget of Fire District No. 2 voted not to adopt the budget; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-78.5, if at the annual election the question of finally adopting the budget is voted negatively upon by a majority of the legal voters, the Governing Body of the municipality in which the Fire District is located shall, by Resolution of a majority of its full membership, within thirty days after the annual election and after a public hearing, fix the annual budget for the Fire District; and
WHEREAS, the Governing Body shall certify the amount to be raised by taxation to support the budget as set forth in the final budget to the Tax Assessor; and
WHEREAS, a public hearing was held on March 8, 2011 after appropriate public notice and publication.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Committee of the Township of Montville, in the County of Morris and State of New Jersey, that the 2011 budget for Montville Township Fire District No. 2 is hereby fixed at $670,320.00; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a detailed line item budget reflecting the changes made by the Township Committee is attached hereto.
Motion: Kostka. Second: Sandham. Roll call vote - Braden, yes; Kostka, yes; Gallopo, yes; Nielson, yes; Sandham, yes. Resolution adopted.
Sandham stated we have the ability to request an extension if we see fit. There is no guarantee we would get that. Is there a need to request an extension at this point?
Gallopo stated yes, we do have the items we could not discuss tonight as per advice of legal counsel. If we get this 30-day extension, we could clarify some other items.
Sandham asked Mr. Brewer if the state gave us any indication of a 30-day extension.
Brewer stated he spoke to the Marc Pfeiffer, Deputy Director of the Division of Local Government Services, who indicated it is possible to request extension. The typical extension is to the next regularly scheduled meeting. In our case, it would probably be to April 8.
File for a 30-day extension. Motion: Gallopo. Second: Kostka. Roll call vote – all yes. Motion approved.
Brewer stated I am going to request an extension from Mr. Pfeiffer. We have the $75,000 reduction. Pending the decision of Mr. Pfeiffer, we will decide whether that needs to be filed.
Sandham stated if we get an extension before Monday at noon, we do nothing. If they say no, then we definitely submit the budget with the $75,000 reduction. If no response by Monday at noon, then we submit what we have now with a cover letter saying here is the budget pending the determination of an extension.
Conklin stated with all respect to you – I understand this was a tough item. I understand there are two issues – firematic and administration. You are telling us $75,000. If this were private industry, I could take care of this in two days. This is public employees. Things can go on long. I am afraid we will not be able to come up with $75,000 if things don’t go our way.
Art Daughtry, 1 Pennbrook Court, Montville, stated this budget that was defeated - $75,000 in administration. Are you saying that is where the cut has to take place?
Frederic Knapp, Special Township Attorney, stated the law does not specify; however, there is an interpretive statement that the reduction is to come from the area.
Daughtry asked if you are not on firm ground, then you are hurting the firemen.
Sandham stated no matter what we do, if during the year they have to re-allocate, they can. This Township Committee has identified that administrative expense is where it has to be cut. That is the intention.
Daughtry stated and you could have left the budget intact this year? Sandham answered yes.
Hearing no further comments, Chairman Sandham closed the public portion. Nielson. Second: Gallopo. All in favor. Motion approved.
Meeting adjourned at 10 p.m. Motion: Kostka. Second: Nielson. All in favor. Motion approved.
Gertrude H. Atkinson, Township Clerk
Approved August 9, 2011
Montville Township Committee
James Sandham, Jr., Mayor