Mount Olive Township Council Minutes
May 21, 2001

The Special Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to order at 7:30pm by Council President Rattner with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate Notice of this Meeting has been given to the Mt. Olive Chronicle and the Morristown Daily Record. Notice has been posted at in the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mt. Olive, New Jersey, and notices were sent to those requesting the same.

ROLL CALL: Present: Mr. Heymann, Mr. Guenther, Mr. Sohl,

Mr. Spino, Mr. Scapicchio, President Rattner.

Absent: Mrs. Kelly

President Rattner: Mrs. Kelly excused herself due to the appearance of a conflict since she’s an employee of the Board of Education. I would also like to acknowledge the attendance of Mr. Strillacci representing the School. We also have a couple of people that served on the Subcommittee to review the School Budget: Mr. Nick Geiger, Mr. Scott Ireland, and I’ve been told Hank Titone is on his way—we may be out of here before he gets here—but he was part of it too. With that, we have one Resolution to discuss and vote on tonight. And that is the Resolution to Certify the Tax Levy for the School District Levy. Mr. Heymann, would you move that Resolution.

RESOLUTIONS – NON CONSENT

Resolution RE: Certification of Tax Levy (School District Budget).

Mr. Heymann moved for approval of the Resolution and Mr. Guenther seconded the motion.

President Rattner: Before we open it up to the Public, I would like Mr. Scapicchio, the Chairman of the Budget Subcommittee for the Council will make a short statement which will describe the activities and the result.

Mr. Scapicchio: I’ve prepared a Statement that I’ll hand out to the Press: As a result of the Township’s 2001/2002 School Budget being defeated by the voters on April 17th, the Township Council is required to review the defeated Budget, and to certify the School District Taxes at the original amount that appeared on the Ballot or a reduced amount. A Committee of both the Township Council and Board of Education met on May 8th and May 15th to discuss the defeated Budget. Based upon these meetings, several phone conversations between Board President Rob Mania and myself, together with the review of numerous documents pertaining to said Budget submitted by the Board, the Township Council School Budget Committee and the Board of Education Subcommittee have come to an agreement on a reduction to the original School Tax Levy of$ 775,000. The revised amount to be levied for taxes will continue to provide the Township’s Children with a thorough and efficient education for the 2001/2002 school years. If the Committee’s recommendation is accepted tonight and the Resolution adopted, the Township Council’s tax levy reduction of$775,000 represents 19% of the increase tax levy that was defeated by the voters. The rational provided by the Committee to support the levy reduction was accomplished without opening a classroom door, touching a pencil or piece of paper, and does not include any decreases in budget appropriations that affect the classroom in any way. More specifically, the Committee, through their negotiations with the Board of Education, has identified additional revenue sources and appropriation reductions in non-instructional line items. These amounts are set forth on “Attachment A” to the Resolution to be acted upon by the Township Council this evening. On behalf of the School Budget Committee Members, it is our recommendation that the Township Council adopt the resolution before them this evening. And they are as follows: On the Revenue Side, Surplus Anticipated: Projected surplus in excess of 3% of 2001-02 Proposed General Fund Budget as per recapitulation of balances, $250,000; Miscellaneous—which was Line item 10-1XXX – Increase for other additional recurring revenue items not anticipated and the reallocation of food service retained earnings accumulated as a result of the General Fund Budget Subsidizing the payment of health benefits for food service employees, $244,144.00. Appropriation Reductions: Line Item 11-000-310-30; Transfer to Deficit (Food Service) The June 30, 2000 audit reflects $384,253 of available retained Mr. Scapicchio (cont’d): earnings. The 40% portion of health benefits budgeted in the General Fund can e charged to the food service operations. That amounted to $55,856.00; Line Item 12-000400-390 Other Purchases Professional and Technical Services: School bus garage parking lot is not a necessity at the current time: There was $25,000 allocated for Engineering for that service. Line Item 12-000-400-450, Construction Services, School bus garage parking lot is not a necessity at the current time, there was a $200,000 number in the Budget for the paving of that parking lot. Bringing the total appropriation reductions to $280,856.00 for a Grand total of $775,000. On behalf of the School Budget Committee Members, it is our recommendations that the Township Council adopt the Resolution before them this evening.

President Rattner: Thank you, Mr. Scapicchio. Mr. Strillacci, would you like to say something representing the School Board?

Mr. Strillacci: Thank you, Mr. Rattner, Council members. I didn’t know I was going to be speaking—I thought Mr. Mania would be here. But, I would like to just talk to you in general terms, and first I would like to compliment the Committee—I think did a fantastic job. There certainly was, for varied reasons in the Town, and, obviously, when you see what the vote was, dissatisfaction with the Budget. So, you had the job of doing something about it. We certainly put forth what we thought was a valid Budget. But, things had to be done, and I think we went about it in the right way, I think it was, was reached, whereby—and I think that we will be able to accommodate these cuts—and as Mr. Scapicchio says, stay away from classes, of course, our intent. Of course you must keep in mind what Mr. Scapicchio read on these items, may or may not be agreed with, and also may not be the cuts that are actually made. The School Board has met, and we have not determined the actual cuts we will make yet. But, I would not say that these would be, at this time, way out of line. Again, I am sure we are going to try to stay away from classrooms, and, keep in mind one thing, gentlemen, and I think you can see by what you said, some of this is just deferred money. If we don’t do the parking lot this year, it’s going to be done another year; if we don’t buy a bus this year, it’s going to be bought next year, and so on and so forth. But, again, I would like to compliment you. This is the way this Town should work. Thanks very much.

President Rattner: Thank you, Mr. Strillacci. Now we’ll open it up to the Public. Is there anyone from the Public who would like to make any comment or questions on the Budget Proposal? Seeing none, I will close the Public portion and ask for Council Comments?

Mr. Heymann: I have no comments.

Mr. Guenther: Mr. Scapicchio, can you explain the “Miscellaneous 10-1XXX” Item?” I had a hard time understanding that.

Mr. Scapicchio: Basically, what we’re saying here is, there are miscellaneous revenues that we believe were under-estimated that will, in fact, be revenues that can be counted on, and then there was a reallocation of food service monies that were retained. And what that refers to is, there was $384,000 and some change available in their Food Service Account. My understanding is, this Food Service Account operates similar to our Water & Sewer Utility in that it is a self-sufficient fund. There was a surplus that has been built up over the years in that fund and, there was also a portion of health benefits that were being taken from the General Fund to be paid for for the Health Service Employees. And that’s basically what that is, Bernie. It’s basically reoccurring revenues that they didn’t anticipate that we believe they can anticipate. Did I answer your question?

Mr. Guenther: Yes.

President Rattner: Anything else, Mr. Guenther?

Mr. Guenther: No.

Mr. Sohl: I would just also like to thank the Committee and the effort that the Council members that were on that Committee put in. And, also add, I know Gary Higgins, our Township Auditor played a key role helping to get things started, and quickly review a rather lengthy and extensive amount of information. It’s never an easy task to take on a School Budget, which dwarfs ours to some degree, and we spend a fair amount of time doing that one as it is. So, again, I’d like to thank all that participated, and helped get us to where we are today.

Mr. Spino: I’ll let you make the comments.

Mr. Scapicchio: I have nothing to add.

President Rattner: First thing I want to do is, from the Council, thank the people who were on the Committee, who represented the Council. That was Dave Scapicchio was the Chairman, Council members Ron Heymann, Earl Spino. We had private citizens—again, Mr. Scott Ireland, Mr. Nick Geiger, Mr. Hank Titone, and we had our Township Auditor, review and look at the Accounting Items, Mr. Higgins. This, obviously, is a very large task that has to be done in a very short period of time. It is under Statute that we have to do it. The School Board is charged with putting together a Budget, putting it up to the Voters, the Voters then have the opportunity to Vote Yes or NO, when it votes “Yes” it just goes on from there, when it votes “No” it is given to the Township Council to make a recommendation, and we get a total of four weeks from the time it is actually voted on. That includes the time to accumulate all the data to get a basic understanding, and then make the recommendations. It sounds like, “Oh, it’s a nice simple way to go.” But there are a lot of questions, there’s a lot of data as you’ve heard, the Members on the Subcommittee had a lot of questions because we don’t look at the School Budget unless it goes down, and then we just do a cursory review because it’s a separate Government that puts us together. So, there was a lot of data to review, and a lot of questions which then the School Board and their professionals had to answer. Basically, they had to defend their Budget all over again to people that don’t understand everything that’s in there. But, I think it’s a credit—I know from our team the amount of work, the dedication that they put in. I hear the same thing came from the School Board side because the School Board had to be very responsive and they understood that they had to get the answers back quickly because we didn’t have much time. And they didn’t know where the questions were coming from, or how many were going to come. So I think this was just a credit to all our citizens in Town. I think that our citizens and especially our children are well served, and looking at this summary, I’m confident that we did the best that we could under the circumstances, and I think everybody, when the Budget is actually in effect, we’re going to find out that we all together, cooperatively did a good job. With that, Roll call.

ROLL CALL: Passed unanimously

Motion made for adjournment. All in Favor, none Opposed. The Meeting was adjourned at 7:45pm

_______________________

Steven W. Rattner

Council President

I, LISA M LASHWAY, Township Clerk of the Township of Mount Olive do hereby certify that the foregoing Minutes is a true and correct copy of the Minutes approved at a legally convened meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council duly held on May 22, 2001.

________________________

LISA M. LASHWAY

Mount Olive Township Clerk

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Mailing Address:
Mount Olive Township
Post Office Box 450
Budd Lake, NJ 07828

Physical Address:
Mount Olive Township
204 Flanders-Drakestown Road
Budd Lake, N.J. 07828

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