TOWNSHIP COUNCIL PUBLIC MEETING MINUTES
- January 4, 2011
The Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 7:02pm President Tobey: We will begin with the Open Public Meeting Announcement as the Pledge of Allegiance and moment of reflection was earlier.
OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT ANNOUNCEMENT
According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been given to the Daily Record. Notice has been posted at the Municipal Building , 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mount Olive Township , New Jersey and notices were sent to those requesting the same.
Present: Mr. Greenbaum, Mrs. Labow(7:49pm), Mr. Mania, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Walsh(7:07pm), Mr. Roman, Mr. Tobey
Also Present: Sherry Maniscalco, CFO; John Dorsey , Township Attorney; Michelle Masser, Deputy Township Clerk; Mayor David Scapicchio; William Sohl; Business Administrator
Election of 2011 Council President
President Tobey: Let the record reflect that Mrs. Labow was actually running late from a business function. The first item on tonight's Agenda is the Election of the 2011 Council President and with such I'll except nominations.
Mr. Mania: I'll nominate Phil Tobey for Council President.
Mr. Roman: Second
President Tobey: Thank you, it's been moved and seconded. Any other nominations? Seeing none, Roll Call please.
ROLL CALL – Passed with the exception of Mrs. Labow and Mr. Walsh who were absent and Mr. Perkins who abstained.
New Council President Takes Chair
Election of 2011 Council Vice-President
President Tobey: At this time… moving on, I would accept nominations for the 2011 Council Vice President and with that I would like to nominate Mr. Roman.
Mr. Mania: I'll second it.
President Tobey: It's been moved and seconded. Are there any other nominations? Seeing none, Roll Call please.
ROLL CALL – Passed with the exception of Mrs. Labow and Mr. Walsh who were absent and Mr. Perkins who abstained.
New Council Vice-President Takes Chair
Invocation – Reverend Matthew Jones
President Tobey: The next item on the Agenda is our Invocation and Reverend Matthew Jones is with us this evening. Good evening Reverend and thank you for taking the time.
Reverend Matthew Jones: Thank you for having me tonight. Why don't we pray together? Our Father, our God, at this time we acknowledge our need for you. Lord, your sovereignty and our lives and Lord as we take this moment to reflect on your greatness and your goodness, we know that you're a redeeming God who loves us. So Father tonight we ask Lord God that you be with our Mayor and our Town Council. Lord we ask you for wisdom and we ask you for guidance. Lord, we pray for our Town Employees Lord God as they need much grace Lord God in the tasks that they carry out in serving the people. Lord, we pray right now for our Police, our Firefighters, and our Ambulance Squads, Lord, the many that put their lives on the line in order to protect our people and make sure that they're safe. Lord, at tonight's meeting Lord God we ask that you will be glorified and that your people would be provided for through this Town Council. Lord, We thank you so much for this time together and we dedicate it to you and I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
Mayor's State of the Township Address
President Tobey: We are now going to go to the Mayor's State of the Township Address and actually come back to the swearing in of Mr. Anthony Annecchiarico in a little bit… Mayor?
Mayor Scapicchio: Thank you Mr. Tobey. Mr. President, members of the Township Council, and residents of Mt. Olive Township; it's an honor to present to you the 2011 State of the Township Address. I look forward to a continued good working relationship with Council President Tobey and all council members in what will indeed be another very challenging year. The Finance Department has been preparing for another one-time reassessment to stabilize property values which we expect to be completed the in early part of 2011. We reduced outstanding debt by $1.5 million dollars and overall debt percentages from .76% to .74% of overall property value. We also renegotiated our payroll contract reducing costs by 50%. Our assessments increased by $5.8 million which resulted in $150,000 in additional revenue to the Township. The tax collection rate for this year was 98.71% which is an increase from 2009. Our bond rating remains at AA. An application for a preliminary and major subdivision and site plan approval for construction of 227 single family age restricted active adult dwellings and 57 affordable family units on the Marveland Farms property is currently before the Planning Board. The Building Department issued 1,486 permits in 2010 compared with 1,277 in 2009. Of those permits, 31 were for new homes. We conducted 5,955 inspections compared with 5,438 in 2009 and 5,276 in 2008. The Building Department collected $432,893 in permit fees. We also issued permits for various county properties, schools, township properties and handicap totaling a little over $5,000 which those fees were waived. Integrated Microwave Technologies, an engineering & manufacturing company that serves the military, aerospace & government sectors, relocated to Mt. Olive Township to occupy a building on International Dr. consisting of 65,000 square feet, 140 employees and expects to increase its workforce by 16% in 2011. Benjamin Moore installed a solar field on six acres that will produce enough energy to provide approximately 70% of the electric needed to power their research and development facility off Route 206. Since Wells Fargo Bank took over the BASF building, we have been in active discussions with the State and several companies interested in relocating to this facility. These recent activities are signs that indicate the business climate is beginning to improve here in Mt. Olive Township. The auction of Charters Farm was completed with the high bid of $387,000 coming from a local farmer which will ensure this area stay in productive use as a farm and retain the rural nature of this area. Rezamir Estates; the completion of sale of this 135 acre parcel and subsequent restoration of the areas severely damaged, in a failed development, has become a poster child for preservation and restoration, with the Township contributing $250,000 of Green Acres grant funds. We are working with The Land Conservancy of New Jersey in the protection of another 250 plus acres from four property owners, all in the final stages of completion. A $1.6 million Morris County grant was obtained. Mt. Olive will contribute additional Green Acres funding to assist in the purchase. The Township completed energy audits of four buildings with grants covering the costs. As a result of the audits the Township has now qualified for an additional $50,000 in grant funding to implement energy savings equipment for lighting, heating and cooling upgrades. A volunteer group of trail workers have been flagging, marking and is improving sections of trails for public enjoyment. Work continues at Turkey Brook Park and Greenway, with more sections planned around town. We have identified an area at Turkey Brook Park for a regulation size fenced lacrosse field to be constructed this year and ready for the season. Treatment of Budd Lake was again very successful. Depending on weather, treatment may be reduced or not needed in 2011. In 2010 the Municipal Beach saw over 12,000 visitors with 1,025 family passes issued compared to 10,721 users and 822 family passes issued in 2009. The Health Department successfully completed our federal mandates for distribution of the H1N1 vaccinations to target populations in Mt. Olive, Netcong and Mount Arlington communities. We conducted over eight H1N1 vaccination clinics and vaccinated close to 3,000 residents. We assumed the responsibilities for health services for the Borough of Wharton on a shared services agreement for 2010, 2011 & 2012. We renewed our shared health service agreements with Netcong Borough and Mount Arlington for 2011, 2012 & 2013. We applied for and were granted authorization to be one of the few distribution sites for federally funded vaccine administration which provides low cost vaccinations for the residents. The Health Department also received an award from the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for achieving 100% compliance with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Office of the Fire Marshal entered into a shared service agreement with Chester Borough which should result in additional revenue stream of $30,000-$40,000. We developed new bid specifications for our fleet repair service; the Township has successfully bid and awarded a new contract with First Vehicle Service. This will now be a full service contract with anticipated savings of approximately $50,000 to $100,000 in 2011. We have eliminated the cleaning service contract for the municipality and now handle it with part time township employees at a net cost savings of $20,000. We eliminated the service contract for HVAC and a shared service agreement was developed with the Board of Education for a reduction in costs. We plan to move forward with single stream recycling to increase recycling materials, in turn decreasing solid waste tonnage and simplifying the recycling for the residents while increasing the types of material accepted. This will result in a savings to the township on tipping fees. In 2010 the Mt. Olive Police Department continued to provide the essential public services, handled a variety of investigations and provided emergency services, dispatching for all police, fire and EMS serving in our Township. During this period the police dispatchers answered 8,700 emergency 911 telephone calls and dispatched 1,254 requests for medical assistance. During the last year the Mt. Olive Police Department had five veteran officers retire from the ranks of our department.
The patrol Division:
- Handled 64,454 calls for service
- Conducted 29,586 Business, Residential & Vacant home checks
- Responded to 1,196 alarms
- Investigated 971 motor vehicle crashes
- Responded to 219 domestic violence incidents
- Police Officers issued 3,752 motor vehicle summons
- Arrested 971 individuals for various criminal offenses
- Arrested 238 juveniles
- Removed 152 drunk drivers from the streets of Mt. Olive
Forty guns were seized, removed from the streets and logged into police custody. The detective bureau, while providing assistance with a multitude of cases, investigated 304 serious cases. The Records & Communications Division of the Police Department initiated State Accreditation through the NJ Chiefs of Police Association and National Recognition through The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The Township was awarded $50,000 in grant money from the Morris County Joint Insurance Fund. The grant money will be used for the application of fees, some software and to contract the Rodgers Group to guide and assist with the process. The Division was also responsible for securing seven federal and state grants which provided $110,000 worth of funding and equipment which helped offset the cost of the operating budget in the Police Department. The Municipal Court saw 8,887 cases and disposed of 9,937 compared to 10,336 cases in 2009. Total money collected through November 2010 was $1,350,000.00 and not all that money comes to the Township. One of the services or programs we offer which goes unnoticed to most, but has the biggest impact on individuals and families in need is the Mt. Olive Food Pantry which is administered by the Mt. Olive Health Department. The Food Pantry has grown considerably thanks to the many businesses, service groups, churches and individuals who live and work in Mt. Olive Township. Food and monetary donations are dropped off at the Health Department on a regular basis and as I did last year, all donations from the wedding ceremonies I perform will be dedicated to the Township Food Pantry and with that I want to just thank everybody. Have a happy and healthy new year.
President Tobey: Thank you Mayor. Let the record reflect that Councilman Walsh has joined us. Moving on with our Agenda, we are up to Appointments and we have the Mayor's Appointments of which I'll read into the record:
a. Mayor's Appointments
Morris County Community Development Revenue Sharing Committee
Kath y Murphy, Member, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Richard Escobar, Alternate, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Scott VanNess, Member Class II, 1 year term expires 12/31/11
Steve Bedell, Alt. II Class IV, 2 year term expires 12/31/13
John Greco, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Hank Titone, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Kay Serebrakian, Alt. 1, 2 year term expires 12/31/12
President Tobey: Moving on to Mayor's Appointments with Advice & Consent of Council:
b. Mayor's Appointments with Advice & Consent of Council
Township Attorney, John Dorsey , Esq., 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Prosecutor, Brian Mason, Esq., 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Public Defender, Anthony Abore, Esq., 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Economic Development Committee
Lou Nisivoccia, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Gary Mahabir, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Donna Pilone, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Recreation Advisory Committee
Brigitte Geiger, RAC apt., 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Dan Weiss, MAC apt., 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Vacant MAC, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Scott Ireland, 5 year term expires 12/31/15
Liz Ouimet, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Tracy Wadhams, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
President Tobey: Would someone please move the Mayor's appointments with advice and consent?
Mr. Greenbaum: So moved.
Mr. Roman: Second.
President Tobey: It's been moved and seconded. Roll Call please.
Roll Call – Passed with the exception of Mrs. Labow who was absent and Mr. Perkins who abstained on the Township Attorney and the Scott Ireland.
President Tobey: Moving on to Council Appointments:
c. Council Appointments
All Subcommittees of the Township Council previously created are extended through 2011:
Library Board Liaison, Rob Greenbaum, 1 year term expires 12/31/ 201 1
Recreation Board Liaison, Alex Roman, 1 year term expires 12/31/ 20 11
Board of Education Liaison, Alex Roman, 1 year term expires 12/31/ 20 11
Safety Committee Liaison, Ray Perkins , 1 year term expires 12/31/ 20 11
Pride Committee Liaison, Colleen Labow, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Legislative Committee, Pat Walsh & Ray Perkins, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Committee RE: Lake/Environment Issues, Ray Perkins, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Community Development Revenue Sharing Committee, Ray Perkins, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Economic Development Committee Liaison, Pat Walsh, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Planning Board , John Mania, Council member, Class III, 1 year term expires 12/31/ 201 1
Senior Citizen Liaison, John Mania, 1 year term expires 12/31/2011
Auditor, Gary Higgins , 2 year term expires 12/31/2012
Board of Health
Anita Cooper , 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Mark Kana, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
Bob Correale, 5 year term expires 12/31/15
Open Space Committee
Kathy Murphy, 3 year term expires 12/31/13
President Tobey: Would someone kindly move the Council Appointments?
Mr. Perkins: So moved.
Mr. Mania: I'll second it.
President Tobey: It's been moved and seconded. Roll Call please.
Roll Call – Passed with the exception of Mrs. Labow who was absent.
Swearing In: Anthony Annecchiarico - Sergeant
President Tobey: Chief, are we ready?
Chief Spitzer: We are.
President Tobey: Okay, at this time we have the swearing in of Mr. Anthony Annecchiarico as our new Police Sergeant here in Mount Olive Township. Michelle, would you be so kind?
Chief Spitzer: I would just like to have a couple of minutes before we swear him in. Is that okay?
President Tobey: Absolutely.
Chief Spitzer: Tony, why don't you come up? Tina, family…I know it's a busy night so I'll try and move quickly but it's an important night for us. Last Thursday, Ron Dunster who was a Patrol Sergeant worked his last shift here in Mount Olive Township. Ron worked for a little bit over 34 years I think and was a great officer for our department. He's going to be missed. He remains welcome as does the other four officers that retired this year. We had Laurie Shuren, Mike Bazur, Walt Sevensky all retired as did Mike Strada who will be sworn in on Saturday as the Sussex County Sheriff and he's in the back right there, former officer Mike Strada. Tonight's business is to make a replacement for the patrol Sergeant, Ron Dunster and that is Tony Annecchiarico who's standing here to my left. Tony is here with Tina, his wife, Kristen and Megan, his daughters. I probably met Tina when she was Megan's age.
Mrs. Tina Annecchiarico: I was a little older Mark.
Chief Spitzer: Tina's mom was my Administrative Assistant when I became Chief. She's over here, and that's Sharon Popelka who retired from the Township of Mount Olive a couple years ago. I think it's a couple years ago. Tony's sister is here… Sherry? Terry, sorry I just met her. Tony's father is in North Carolina and Tony's mother passed away a couple of years ago but I'm confident that she's looking down proudly tonight. His mother is Mary. Tony has been a patrol officer for… since 1994 and he's worked first as a patrol officer then was assigned to the detective bureau. We asked him to go back out on the road because we needed some leadership on the squad. He gladly did. Well I don't know if he gladly did but he did and he did a great job again on the road. He's been moved back into the detective bureau and has worked as the Detective Corporal in the detective bureau for several years and tonight he's going to be promoted to Sergeant. In his career he's had quite a few awards but I'll just talk about a couple of them. One of them was the Americanism Award, given by the American Legion in Stanhope in 1997. He was given an award for a case that involved removing a child predator from the streets. It was a very serious case in which, a “would be” sex offender was stopped by Tony on the road and the man actually had a plan to abduct a child. He was coming from Florida, he was a registered sex offender, his car was set up and he had a kid ready to go and later on confessed that, that was his plan. Tony removed him from the streets along with another detective who was retired from here. He was also given the Knights of Columbus award here in town, the Shield Award. I can't remember when that was but late 90's…but that was for another sex assault that Tony investigated. It was on a very difficult night here in Mount Olive Township. Years ago we had someone attack and try to kill one of our police officers and our officer had to shoot that person. On the same night, we were investigating that crime and a couple other crimes, Tony investigated a knife point sexual assault and ended up arresting the offender for that as a detective. Pretty much singlehandedly investigated the case because of what was going on elsewhere. In 2005, Tony and Lt. Craig Austenberg were assigned to LEAD, which I always forget what the acronym means but it's the Louisiana Emergency Assistance Deployment which is when hurricane Katrina hit. Tony and Craig went down as police officers and served Louisiana for a couple weeks as police officers and responded to the calls and tried to clean up after the situation down there. Tony has done many heroic things but for me the thing that he does the best is his everyday… the performance that he has every day. He treats people in Mount Olive Township like you would want your husbands, wives, children treated and he's just been a great guy. He comes from a group of people… I know I had over twenty people apply for the sergeant's position, who were eligible. What we do for a selection for a promotion is first we have the test that's given by the New Jersey State Association of Chief's of Police. After the written test there is an oral panel that consists of four Lieutenants and a Captain and with that oral panel you are tested on rules and regulations, SOP's, Morris County Prosecutor Guidelines, Attorney General Guidelines and alike. Then after that, that group of five on the panel, submit three names that are forwarded to the Chief of Police and the Chief of Police does an interview and that's my job and I selected Tony for this. I selected him from a group of incredible officers. There was incredible competition. I could stand at the microphone all day and talk about our officers as you know from the past but suffice it to say, he rose to the top, I think it's the right decision and he's' going to serve Mount Olive Township well. I think that's pretty much it. I think we're ready to go. We're going to have a swearing in and if you want anybody else up besides…
Mrs. Masser administers the Oath of Office:
Anthony Annecchiarico: I, Anthony Annecchiarico do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New Jersey; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and to the Governments established in the United States and in this State, under the Authority of the people; and that I will faithfully, impartially and justly perform all the duties of the office of Sergeant of the Mount Olive Township Police Department according to the best of my ability. So help me God.
Chief Spitzer: Then we always like to have the husband or wife ceremonially pin the badge on and if they “slip” it's okay.
Mr. Mania: Now's the time to get even, right?
Mrs. Annecchiarico: No, he's got a vest on, he's safe.
President Tobey: On behalf of Mount Olive Township Council, I would like to congratulate you and thank you for your service to the community and wish you the best of luck in your leadership role. Thank you very much.
Sergeant Annecchiarico: Thank you.
Consent Resolutions Agenda:
Resolutions on Consent Agenda List are considered to be routine and non-controversial by the Township Council and will be approved by one motion (one vote). There will be no separate discussion or debate on each of these resolutions except for the possibility of brief clarifying statements which may be offered. If one or more council members requests, any individual resolution on the consent agenda may be removed from the Consent Agenda List and acted on separately.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Designating the Official Newspapers of the Municipality for the Purpose of Publication of Legal Notices.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing the Annual Schedule of Meetings and Other Requirements Pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing a Temporary Budget for 2011 for the Current, Water, Sewer and Recreation Utility as well as the Sanitation District. PDF Resolution
Resolution of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing a Cash Management Plan for the Township of Mount Olive for the Year 2011.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Retaining Professional Services Under the Non-Fair and Open Contract in Accordance with the Pay to Play Law.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Appointing Pat Walsh as Council Representative to the Community Development Revenue Sharing Committee.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing Participation in the State of New Jersey Cooperative Purchasing Program for the Year 2011.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Fixing the Rate of Interest to be Charged on Delinquent Taxes or Assessments.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Purchase of Necessary Goods and Services Under Any Contract Competitively Bid by the Morris County Cooperative Pricing Council .
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Tax Assessor and/or the Township Attorney to File and Tax Appeals/Rollbacks.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing Various Change Funds for the Year 2011.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive, County of Morris, State of New Jersey, Creating and Continuing the Mount Olive Municipal Alliance Committee.
Resolution of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Cancellation of Water, Sewer, Sewer Assessment and Tax Receivable Overpayments and Balances $1.00 or Less.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing a Petty Cash Fund for 2011.
President Tobey: Moving on with our Agenda, we are up to Resolutions. We have 14 listed for this evening. Does anyone on Council wish to move any to Non Consent? Seeing none, Mr. Mania would you kindly move the Consent Resolutions?
Council Comments/Statements on Consent Resolutions Agenda - None
Mr. Mania: Mr. President, I move the Consent Resolutions.
Mr. Perkins: Second.
Public Portion on Consent Resolutions - None
President Tobey: Thank you, it's been moved and seconded. Does anyone from the Public wish to be heard on any Resolutions listed this evening? Seeing none, Roll Call please?
ROLL CALL – Passed with the exception of Mrs. Labow who was absent.
MOTIONS - None
President Tobey: Moving on we have no Motions for this evening. We are up to our Public Portion. Does anyone from the Public wish to be heard on anything?
Nicole Wright, Sandshore Road, Budd Lake: I wanted to ask a question about the Water Department issues.
President Tobey: The Water Department or the Contract?
Nicole Wright: The contract for the Water Department.
President Tobey: Okay, that's actually going to come up in a little bit. There will be a Public Portion if we can wait until then?
Nicole Write: Absolutely.
President Tobey: Please, thank you. Does anyone else from the Public wish to be heard? Okay, seeing none we have Council Comments, Closing Council Comments Mr. Greenbaum?
Closing Council Comments
Mr. Greenbaum: I have none this evening.
President Tobey: Thank you, Mr. Mania?
Mr. Mania: None this evening.
President Tobey: Mr. Perkins?
Mr. Perkins: Nothing this evening.
Mr. Roman: No thank you, I have nothing.
President Tobey: And I have nothing. We need to do a Roll Call on the Consent Resolutions please.
Mr. Mania: Let the record show that Senator Oroho has arrived.
President Tobey: Good evening Senator.
Senator Oroho: Good evening, how are you? Happy New Year.
Mr. Perkins: Happy New Year.
Mr. Mania: Happy New Year.
President Tobey: You want to do a Roll Call…
Mrs. Masser: For resolutions one through fourteen.
Roll Call – Passed Unanimously
Mr. Perkins: We voted on this already.
President Tobey: Senator, would you like to take the podium? Is there anything this evening?
Senator Oroho: Thank you very much, I appreciate… I apologize for being a few minutes late. I'm just here to come and thank you very much for your willingness to serve the community at the municipal level. I have served on all three, the municipal, the county and the state level and obviously the most personal is the municipal level and I'm just here to thank you very much for all your dedicated service and I hope you have a happy and prosperous New Year.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Mr. Walsh: Thank you.
President Tobey: Does anyone else from the Public wish to be heard on anything? Okay, seeing none we have Father Stanley Barron for our Benediction this evening. Good evening Father.
Benediction – Reverend Stan Barron
Father Stan Barron: Good evening. Let us pray. Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of our Town Council and shine forth that all the proceedings and laws framed by, for our rule and government. May they seek to preserve peace, promote happiness and continue to bring us the blessings of community living. May the Lord bless and keep us, let his face shine upon us and be gracious to us. May the Lord look upon us with kindness and give us peace, Amen.
Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Re: Proposed Agreement between United Water and the Township of Mount Olive for the Operation of the Township's Water System. – added 1/4/2010
President Tobey: Thank you Father. The next item on tonight's Agenda is the public hearing on the proposed contract with United Water. This is a statutorily called public hearing and I would ask that only comments or questions posed this evening be on the proposed contract with United Water only. A copy of which has been on file with the Township Clerk for a month and summarized in the notice of the initial date for the public hearing. Mayor, are there any introductory remarks from anybody?
Mr. Dorsey: Let me just note that we have a court stenographer tonight in order to prepare a transcript of the public hearing that will ultimately be submitted to the three agencies that are involved. I'm sorry Mayor, go ahead.
Mayor Scapicchio: Thanks John, I do Mr. Tobey, thank you. During my years as Mayor I have pursued the effort to reduce costs and to bring innovation to the Township. In the operation of our water system, costs have been extraordinarily difficult to control because of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is constantly issuing new directives and requirements for potable water. Additionally, I have the greatest respect and appreciation for the efforts that our DPW workers put into the operation of our water system. I know that we simply do not have the resources and expertise that a large water utility such as United has and therefore we are unlikely to be able to do innovative things. During the last year I have pursued what is referred to as a public/private partnership arrangement with the water utility. I selected this group because we do not wish to sell the water utility. Initially we received responses to our requests for proposal of which United Water was the lowest bidder in terms of annual operating costs. As a result and my direction, the Township Attorney, Business Administrator, our Auditor and Director of DPW negotiated with United to arrive at an agreement by which United would operate the system. We've now placed that agreement before the Township Council. United Water would operate the system for five years with the benefit of experience far beyond anything we could offer and United will operate according to our Auditor, at a cost of approximately $80,000 less per year then we have been able to operate this system and prevent the rate increase for 2011. The agreement provides that Township employees who will no longer be needed or necessary, may be offered employment by United Water. United Water will be required to post a bond to guarantee the full operation of the system and any increases in its annual rate during the five year term will be in accordance with the terms and conditions worked out by the Township, the Township Auditor and United Water. Thank you.
President Tobey: At this time I will open it to the Public for anyone that wishes to be heard. Kindly state your name address for the record.
Nicole Wright, Sandshore Road, Budd Lake: Most of the people in this room probably, actually know me because a lot of them work for Public Works and everybody knows that my dad works for Public Works so I kind of have a stake in it but my biggest question about this contract is, I keep reading that United is bonded to take care of all of our equipment and “oh yeah, we're going to be protected in that respect, and there is not going to be a fee increase” but my question is one, more of safety. Recently when there was a water main break, I was at a friend's house, my kids were playing in the back yard and the Water Department went back there. They're allowed to do that. I want to know, who's going to be operating in our community when I'm at work and my 13 year old daughter is in the back yard sunbathing in a bikini, are these men going to be allowed in the back to work on a water main break? Are they going to suddenly start notifying us that they are there? It's public safety.
Mr. Dorsey: Well, certainly United Water or its employees will be notified as quickly as they can by our Director or Superintendent of Public Works, as he still is in charge of the operation of the system and certainly he would be advised before their representatives, undoubtedly by United Water who is here tonight and can confirm this before they enter your property but of course they will only enter for the purpose of protecting the water service and protecting any repairs that are needed, probably under the direction of our Director of DPW.
Mrs. Wright: Okay, so if I was at work and there was a water main break on my property, they would notify me before they went back there?
Mr. Dorsey: Well, if you were home they would…. Yes.
Mrs. Wright: If I was not home and my children were home, would they just walk on to my property?
Mr. Dorsey: Well, I think that depends upon the age of your children but the children would be told, anybody in the yard would be told that the people entering your property are representatives of United and are there to repair any necessary repairs that had to be made.
Mrs. Wright: So the Township is guaranteed that they are just as safe now as they were with our department of public works?
Mr. Dorsey: That certainly is the function of this contract.
Mrs. Wright: Okay.
President Tobey: Does anyone else from the Public wish to be heard? Please…
Steven Rattner, Goldmine Road, Budd Lake: I have had a long history of looking at the water systems and looking at privatization. In fact in 1995 I was probably one of the bigger proponents of privatizing the water system when we were putting in the sewers because of the additional service and reduction of costs and putting down some of the sewer lines but after a number of analysis and it was Council, it was decided not to go that route. So it's not that I have an adverse in looking at privatization and I believe that utilities have an inherent benefit when you have large numbers of customers because of the expertise you can gain the way you can spread costs. The one thing I haven't been able to do is get the analysis. I've asked a number of different people of how we were saving $80,000 a year. They only information that I could take obviously is the public information. I used last year's budget for water. I took out the four men or the ratio of the four men. Put in all the other costs that wouldn't be covered by the contract such as utilities, chemicals, item like that. I included the savings from the Social Security Pension, the other things that are involved with the staffing and even looked at the five year Capital Plan which showed four new pickup trucks which would have meant that the plan was to buy one pickup truck for every person who would be leaving. Looking at that, I still can't come within $150,000 so I was wondering was there an analysis? The actual analysis of how we're going to save the money. I asked that because I've been a part of some of those discussions where you come up with an analysis, were going to save money and to find out it was not. There were a number of things that were unanticipated; there were a number of items in the contract that allowed extras to be put on. I'm not here to question the contract. Everybody reads a contract their own way. There's a lot that I like, there's some things in there that I think we have undo risk. I'm just looking at, I'm looking at that this could raise… at least on my analysis and again it was only from public information that this could raise the rates for the average water user by about 25% because of the additional costs. I'm just looking for, is there going to be or is there an analysis? I've asked for an analysis before, both on the Council and off the Council and a lot of times I wasn't able to get it and I at least would like to get that at this point.
Mr. Dorsey: Well we will turn you as an accountant over to our accountant, Mr. Rattner.
Mr.Rattner: It should be stated because it's what the Council based there….. on. Is there an analysis?
Mr. Higgins: There is an analysis.
Mr. Dorsey: The auditor is specifically here tonight to address those types of comments.
Mr. Rattner: I mean, when will it be made public?
Mr. Higgins: That's not my decision but there is an analysis. That's a fact. When it's made public is…
Mayor Scapicchio: You can make it public at any time.
Mr. Higgins: It's up to this group.
Mr. Greenbaum: Why don't you provide Mr. Rattner with a copy of the analysis at the present time? He's asking for it and I don't see any reason not to give it to him.
Mr. Higgins: That's your direction.
Mr. Greenbaum: Well, I'm only one out of …. I don't make decisions on behalf of the group but you know what…
Mr. Dorsey: Let it be the decision of the Mayor as to when to release the…
Mayor Scapicchio: Yeah, share it, it's a public document.
Mr. Dorsey: It's not a public document until you make it one Mayor.
Mr. Rattner: It hasn't been because I've asked for it.
Mayor Scapicchio: I'm just saying in my mind it's …
Mr. Rattner: I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that I have not been able to get it so I just did it from my own, you know… from the… knowing the budget and I don't know what happened in the last year. I don't know, I could just put in some of the cost expenses and a lot of the different items and I just don't see over the long run the savings.
Mr. Dorsey: There's no issue.
Mr. Rattner: Okay.
Mr. Dorsey: You're … Mr. Higgins computations or his analysis will simply be made available to Mr. Rattner.
Mr. Higgins: Tell me how you want it. Here's my copy. I only have one.
Mayor Scapicchio: We'll make another copy.
Mr. Dorsey: Can you wait until we have some copies made Steve?
Mr. Rattner: Yes, if the Clerk can e-mail it to me, tomorrow will be fine.
Mr. Higgins: Okay, that's great, thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you, does anyone else from the Public wish to be heard?
Louis Guido, Alcrest Avenue, Budd Lake: I've given copies to the Clerk of what I wrote.
President Tobey: Excuse me, if you could kindly state your name and address for the record.
Mr. Guido: Mr. Mayor, this is not personal. I think you've done a good job. I just disagree with this proposal. If you have it (the handout from Mr. Guido) in front of you it would help. I have phil osophical premise about w ater. Water is a unique natural resource that is necessary for all life on this planet. It is as important as the air we breathe. It should be beyond exploitation. Everything we do as humans should provide and protect public water systems from any private corporate gain or benefit. Municipal water systems should be provided on a “at cost” basis. Companies such as United Water and its parent company Suez Environment are committed to providing drinking water and waste collection services on a “for profit” basis. Suez Environment is a $16 billion company with 65, 000 employees. I then have a few points that I tried to keep short but…
Mr. Dorsey: I don't want to interrupt. I don't want to interrupt you unfairly but I just want to point out to you. This is not a privatization.
Mr. Guido: I understand totally. I read the contract and commented on it in my…
Mr. Dorsey: The Township is not giving up the right to control how the system is operated nor are we giving up the right to establish rateweight so I …
Mr. Guido: When I read how the rates or the costs will be incurred, I think there's a gap.
Mr. Dorsey: Only this Council can set rates even under this contract.
Mr. Guido: No, no, I'm talking about your yearly annual fee.
Mr. Dorsey: I'm sorry I interrupted you.
Mr. Guido: Okay, like Mr. Rattner says, there is a savings of $80,000 to the 2,400 homes this agreement covers. I read the proposed contract with United Water and I am unsure how you were able to quantify the savings. The first year annual fee is $682,815.00. That includes a $50,000 annual maintenance cap. The contract states that if that cap is exceeded, the Township is responsible for all maintenance costs for the remainder of that year. It also states that the additional maintenance work performed by United Water will be paid for by the Township on a separate time and expense basis, including overtime. Materials and subcontractors will be invoiced to the Township by United Water at cost, plus 10% on the actual cost of materials to reimburse United Water for administrative expenses. For United Water labor not regularly assigned to the Township, the Township shall pay United Water actual wages plus benefits at 35% plus 20% for overhead and administration. Also, for employees normally assigned to the Township once the annual maintenance cap is met, that any overtime worked by that employee, the Township shall pay United Water actual wages plus 50% for overtime plus 20% for overhead and administration. To me, this seems like it's such an open ended contract; I can't see how anyone could conclude there is any savings to be realized by the taxpayer. In all reality, it appears that the possibility of exceeding the contracted yearly fee to United Water can very easily be exceeded and is very likely. To the point, w hy is the contract with United Water being pursued? I've spoken with a few council persons and also employees at the water department. All confirmed that the real reason the Mayor is pursuing the agreement is to eliminate 4 positions from the town roster in the water department. The Mayor feels the wages, benefits and pensions of these individuals would be significant in reducing the Township's financial burden and therefore reduce the yearly municipal budget. The taxes on our house in Budd Lake are approximately $8,000 a year. The tax constitutes the municipal tax and the school tax. The school tax is three times the municipal tax and generally speaking for a house the size and location of ours, $2,000 or so of the $8,000 is for municipal services. Mr. Mayor, who is complaining? I get to live in Mt. Olive with paved streets, street lights, sidewalks on both sides of the street, police, emergency services, fire department, trash collection, street cleaning, snow plowing and municipal water, sewer, gas and electric for about $3,000 a year. Mr. Mayor, the townspeople did not negotiate the contracts with the municipal employees union. Why should the previous Township practices fall on the townspeople covered by this agreement? If there is an undue burden because of these contracts, renegotiate the contracts to be more equitable. It is absolutely wrong and unfair to enter into such a “for profit” open ended contact with United Water because of this.
Food and Water Watch, which is an organization that keeps track of these kinds of things has published a document, “ Has Water Privatization Gone Too Far in New Jersey? ” It clearly states on average, water rates increase 64% when private water companies get involved. Problems of the Governed, point four. What is the most significant complaint of the governed? Answer, g overnment bureaucracy. C ontracting with United Water or any private water company adds another layer to those governed. As a conservative, I believe the less government, the better. I'm not complaining about the water system and my neighbors seem to be fine with it also. Why are you fixing a problem that doesn't need fixing? If problems arise in the future with a particular public water system, let those that are affected by the problem determine how to deal with it. Private water companies have different goals than local governments and decisions made by these private water companies use a different set of criteria, which often emphasize profitability. These goals are not always in the best interests of the people they serve. Mr. Mayor, you ran as a conservative and as such, the basic tenants of a conservative are less government and lower taxes. Increased water fees are increased taxes. This proposed contract with United Water has all the makings of one, big, wrong decision. With all due respect to all concerned… and I mean that sincerely, okay. I feel you're in over your heads. You're dealing with a huge company that knows how to hang a carrot over a concealed bear trap. It's how they made their $16 billion last year. Point five, l itigation consequences, i n a worst case scenario where agreement cannot be reached, what associated costs could be incurred to protect the Township? United Water and Suez Environment are not without blemish. There are enough cases just in New Jersey to review, where United Water was or is involved in litigation over contracts with various municipalities. You can also review United Water cases in other states as well. What does any litigation do to your premise that this is a less expensive way for the Township to follow? What are typical litigation costs arising from such an action? You are potentially exposing the Township to significant costs regarding any litigation with United Water. Also, what financial impact would an early termination of the contract create? Point Six, Loss of Expertise. If the contract with United Water is implemented and 4 out of 8 employees are terminated, and specific machinery eliminated, there will be a significant impact if it is decided to terminate the contract with United Water at a future date. Loss of these persons and their ongoing training as well as the loss of specific machinery would leave the Township vulnerable. Employing new individuals with the needed expertise and to appropriate the required machinery, in the time frame needed, would incur higher costs than the Township's current costs. My belief is that if we take the path of the contract, it will be extremely difficult and expensive to restart anew. In Conclusion, I'm satisfied with my current water system and all associated costs and personnel. Twenty-eight years ago, when I first moved here, there was no water bill. Things have changed but not unfairly. Please do all you can to keep it that way. Thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you.
Mr. Dorsey: Mr. Fishman, do you want to put this in the record? A copy of the gentleman's…
Mr. Fishman: Okay.
President Tobey: Does anyone else from the public wish to be heard? Seeing none, we…oh, sorry.
Mr. Pat Pinto, Kenmar Road, Budd Lake: I've lived here about 42 years. First of all I want to commend the Council and the Mayor for attempting to save us taxpayer's money. I sincerely mean that. I'm just here to kind of voice my views on it and give a couple of opinions. Obviously, you probably have done a lot more homework as that gentleman has, obviously. The way I look at it, I'm a guy who looks at things from a common sense view point and the way I feel about it is… and I round these numbers. If there's 2,500 families and we're going to save $80,000, the way I look at it is it's going to come out to $32.00 a year and that's $8.00 a quarter, $160.00 over the five years. If you took this proposal and went before the public as just a proposal, yes or no, up or down vote of those 2,500 families; I bet you the majority would say keep it because local control is just like your local schools. If I've got to get on the phone and I called up Mike Lata who I've known… since his uncles and everybody in Town. I say “Mike, my pressure is down and what have you, etc. etc.” I'm talking to a human being. I am not dialing one, two, three. We've all been through it. I'm talking to you person to person. That's my concern, is that… sure we're going to save some money and I really think that's great but let's look at, do you want to sell your soul to a bigger outfit? Somebody comes up and back up on my lawn with a backhoe, I don't even know the person and they don't feel like we feel about Mount Olive. I know that there's a lot of costs involved in health benefits for the workers and what have you but I really think on balance, that I would feel better if I… like I said, if it was a local situation. Listening to that gentleman over there, it kind of got a little scary about the “carrot over the bear trap” in that sense that the additional costs and where we're going to go from here may be something that concerns me, okay. Thank you for your time.
President Tobey: We're just going to break momentarily for the changing of the tape, ladies and gentlemen. Does anyone else from the public wish to be heard?
Russ Jones, Camelot Drive, Budd Lake: What Pat Pinto had to say, I agree with that. But before I get on with that I'd like to say that the recent snow storm we just had for what it's worth in this room, I think the Road Department did an excellent job. Despite what you see in the media and everything, I think Mount Olive was on the ball. I would gladly pay another eight, twelve, fifteen dollars a quarter to keep things the way they are. I don't consider my water bill hard for me to deal with. I think it's very easy to deal with. If anybody know anything about Massachusetts, you would not want to live there. They have all kinds of problems with their water and they pay a lot of money for their water. I don't want to see us end up like that. Whenever I've had a problem, Mike has come out with his crew and it's almost like on a good ol' boy basis around here. You know, everybody knows each other and I'd like to keep it that way and if it takes an extra $15.00 a quarter that I have to pay to keep these four individuals in a job and keep everything working on the par that it is, I'm all for it. I would like the Mayor to reconsider; I mean I think you're trying to fix something that's not broke. If you need a little bit more money, I'm happy to put in my share and the people I've talked to and the people in this room all seem to agree so I think you need to think about that. Thank you.
President Tobey: Thank you. Does anyone else from the public wish to be heard? Seeing none, Mayor, are there any statements or comments you would like to offer before we move on?
Mayor Scapicchio: There are. You know we as a collective group spent an enormous amount of time trying to drill down this contract so that we limited the exposure that the water customers would be exposed to. I think we've done a real good job at doing that and I'll let our Township Auditor, Gary Higgins, explain what we've done. Lou, you've brought up some good points. We've addressed all those points. We believe that we have covered all of the bases. It's a five year contract; the Township can get rid of United at any time. We don't lose any control at all. In fact the beauty of what I've proposed here is it's a public/private partnership where the Township remains in total control of that water utility. We retain the asset; we retain the ability to control the rates. All this is, is a service contract and with that Gary, can you explain… you know, how we derived at that $50,000 number and some of the costs associated with some of the comments that Mr. Guido…
Mr. Higgins: Yes, no problem. I guess starting with Mr. Rattner's $80,000, when we made this analysis we used the 2010 budget number as our baseline and then looked at the projected costs for 2011inclusive of the contract amount and that's where the $80,000 was derived from. 2010 budget baseline versus 2011 projected with the United Water contract amount which we will furnish to the Clerk's office electronically in the morning. Just a couple other numbers of the big hit numbers to be concerned about that we feel we have under control. One is the usage; there is a passage in the agreement that sets forth the baseline flow of 440 million gallons per year. There wouldn't be any change that constitutes a scope of service change for an amount that exceeded over 110% of that number before anything would happen. That would be 484 million gallons per year. An analysis of the water consumption from 2001 to 2010 shows an average on an annual basis of 430 million and the highest annual usage of 466 million. We never got anywhere near the 110% number of the baseline flow plus 10% of 484 million gallons so there shouldn't in my mind be a concern about exceeding that and changing the scope of services. With regard to the other indexes which we would be concerned with, the labor cost component, the maximum adjustment that could happen in any year on the baseline number would be $6,965.00 If the respective indexes there varied or escalated substantially with the non labor costs, the maximum impact would be $4,916.00 so your exposure really if everything went to the far end of the escalade, it would be $12,000 in those areas. With regard to the $50,000, based upon our review of past events, mainly water main breaks… and what's been spent over the past years, $50,000 is much higher than any annual requirement to cover the water main breaks that occurred in any one calendar year. Keep in mind that if there was catastrophic events of water main breaks, you'd be paying for it whether United Water billed you above 50 or if your retained ownership… not ownership, but management of the system. You'd be paying it anyway but based on past practice, $50,000 is more than enough to handle the average amount of “events” as we call them which are mainly breaks in any one year so as the Mayor stated, we've really felt that we buttoned up all of the areas that the Township would be vulnerable to under the contract. We know our maximum limitations and with the $50,000, it's as good as what's happened historically. The number was based on that and it has a buffer in there. We've also got the rates quoted as to what the contractors would charge for an event such as a water main break so we understand that it's not open ended as to anybody showing up and just billing ad valorem. We know what a particular type of an event would cost and we drilled that into the $50,000 and based upon the historical perspective of the number of events that occurred, the number should be sufficient. From a financial standpoint, those are really all the areas that a water rate payer would have to be concerned about with respect to the vulnerability of the fiscal areas in the contract.
Mr. Dorsey: Mr. President, I would just like to do one further thing. I would like to put in the record, I will give it to the court reporter… a series of exhibits, proof of publication, Resolution of the Township Council establishing the hearing here tonight, a publication of the Public Hearing notice tonight, the proposed contract between the Township and United Water and a letter addressed to the BPU, DEP and DCA for purposes of the record which you will put in along with that gentleman's statement, which we have.
President Tobey: Thank you, and at this time I'll close the Public Hearing and I'll ask… excuse me, Mr. Greenbaum?
Mr. Greenbaum: Yes… John, I just wanted to make sure that the action that we're taking tonight is voting on a Resolution simply to pass this along to the governmental entities for review and approval.
Mr. Dorsey: Yes, but let's close the Public Hearing.
Mr. Greenbaum: I thought he already did that?
Mr. Roman: Are we going to have a chance to comment or no?
President Tobey: We will, we will.
Mr. Dorsey: We close the Public hearing, the exhibits will go in, the Resolution that is proposed is a Resolution that I simply… now authorizes the Township in conjunction with United Water to seek approval from the DEP, the BPU and the Division of Local Government Services. Their approval as to this contract or as they may modify the contract is required before the contract can go into operation. The Resolution would also authorize us to proceed and to prepare an ordinance to authorize the contract, of course, be subject to the ultimate approval by NJDEP, BPU and Local Government Services.
Mr. Greenbaum: Just so I'm clear John, and I think I am. The act of actually bringing on United Water would not be accomplished this evening. It would be done by separate ordinance, a separate vote at some time in the future.
Mr. Dorsey: Yeah but you would be…
Mr. Greenbaum: It would be subject to the approvals that we are seeking this evening.
Mr. Dorsey: Yes, you are authorizing us to proceed with the ordinance and also to proceed with the required approvals from the three agencies.
Mr. Greenbaum: Just because we're authorizing the Administration to move forward with that action doesn't mean that we're necessarily… it would still come to a vote at some future point on the adoption of an ordinance which would set, which would put the contract in full force and affect?
Mr. Dorsey: To a length, the Ordinance cannot go into effect until the DEP, BPU and Local Government Services approve it. A Resolution which I think you're offering… authorizes us to submit to those agencies for their approval and to proceed with the Ordinance to authorize.
Mr. Greenbaum: I think that the correct procedure then is to move the Resolution and then to have Council comment on the Resolution? Is that correct?
Mr. Dorsey: Yes.
Mr. Greenbaum: So, I'll move it then.
President Tobey: I'll second it. Council comments, Mr. Perkins?
Mr. Perkins: Thank you Mr. President. I have an issue with moving the Resolution according to the New Jersey State statute that the governing body of the public entity that has negotiated the proposed contract shall adopt an ordinance or resolution approving the proposed contract. The ordinance or resolution may be introduced at the first meeting of the governing body of the public entity held after the public hearing on the proposed contract and shall acknowledge, as our Attorney has stated, that the agreement needs to be approved pursuant to Section 7 of the Public Law.
Mr. Dorsey: Ray, Ray…
Mr. Perkins: So one would believe…
Mr. Dorsey: Ray, the Resolution doesn't introduce the ordinance.
Mr. Perkins: It's not an ordinance. It says ordinance or resolution, Mr. Dorsey.
Mr. Dorsey: Obviously, we don't approve contracts of this nature without an ordinance.
Mr. Perkins: I understand that.
Mr. Dorsey: The Resolution offered by Mr. Greenbaum as I understand it correctly, does not introduce the ordinance. That would be at a separate meeting.
Mr. Perkins: Which cannot take place at this point.
Mr. Dorsey: Well, not tonight.
Mr. Perkins: I also have a point of order. I have stated this publically Mr. Dorsey and you and I have had some correspondence that the New Jersey Water Supply Privatization Act, N.J.S.A. 58:26, specifically states that the notice of intent was supposed to be sent in during the 60 days prior to the public hearing. I know you and I disagree on that. I know that you have subsequently, at least in the past week and a half, sent off to the Board of Public Utilities after I had spoken to their Chief Legal Counsel, the notice of intent. That notice of intent was very specific under 58:26-23, at least 60 days prior to conducting the public hearing. In addition, the public entity that intends to do that would notify the Board in writing of its intent. That was not done. That is a violation of State statute. Whether the Board is so inclined, the Commissioners, Lee Solomon or the rest that they would waive that or the DEP would waive it. It is not in their jurisdiction. It is strictly, as you are well aware, within the legislature or in the courts to modify that. This public hearing never should have taken place in my humble opinion. Secondly, while I have the floor, back on January 19, 2010, when we originally passed the RFP for this, it was with the understanding that the Administration shall report periodically to the Council and they would also advertise in the Newark Star Ledger, the Daily Record and the Mount Olive Chronicle. Ironically enough, the Mount Olive Chronicle was not advertised in for reasons at this point, I don't know why we didn't adhere to the resolution. The resolution also says that they would report on any negotiations and the Administration would report periodically to the Township Council as to the progress and process as various milestones were reached. We have never had any discussions at any previous public meetings regarding any of the negotiations if they have taken place. November 9 th we were presented with another resolution that says “Whereas, the Administration undertook negotiations pursuant to the Public Private Act and these negotiations have stretched over a long period of time” and that a tentative agreement had been reached between the Township and United Water. I voted no on that resolution. You also presented us with Resolution number 18 on November 9 th which said that on April 17 th the Township received those responses to the RFP and the Water Act requires a proposal be submitted, be selected to negotiate a contract and you then come out that the proposal submitted by United Water for negotiation of contract and hereby directs the Township to proceed with negotiations with United Water in accordance with the requirement of the Act. When I questioned you, you said this was for ongoing negotiations. Nothing in the New Jersey Water Act says anything about having to do that. We are obligated and allowed under the Act to be able to negotiate so I'm still puzzled for why we would. We've sat here tonight and the public, the governing body of the public entity that has negotiated a proposed contract needs to provide in writing, that should have been available to the public here, the reasons for the notice for why they were chosen. The public entity shall set forth in writing the reasons for the selection of the qualified proposal submitted by the private firm with which the public entity has negotiated a proposed contract, shall make this document available to the public, which I do not see it out there, along with the proposed contract upon request and during the public hearing conducted pursuant to this section. There's been no discussion, nothing has been presented to the public in writing. All we have is verbal computations from the Mayor, from the Bond Attorney and from yourself. Why are we holding a public hearing when the public doesn't even have any of this documentation in front of us? We've had no previous discussions about a contract. I firmly believe that we are in violation of the statute and I have a memorandum which is not marked as confidential where we were told that at one point that since we didn't notify correctly per the resolution, that we would have to go out and start the process all over again. So I'm somewhat puzzled and I want to be on the record that this procedure has not followed and been an open process. These bids were received in April and it is now January of 2011. We are in violation of statute as far as I'm concerned. The courts or the legislature may find differently. Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. Dorsey: Mr. President, you are going to have to let me respond to at least one or two things. Unfortunately I don't believe Mr. Perkins has a license to practice law and more importantly he has misstated what the statute says. The statute does not say, as he has said on many occasions, that we were required to give the Board, the Division and Local Government Services notice within 60 days of the notice for the receipt of bids. The statute specifically says, in addition, a public entity that intends to enter into a contract with a private firm for the provision of water supply services shall notify in writing the Board, Department and Division of its intent. It does not say when that notice is to be given and as Local Government Services or DEP has told me, the statute is specifically mute. I know that you have had conversations with DEP. I have spoken to BPU. They advise that and I ask very simply whether their advice was not to proceed. That was not their advice. Their advice, if not
encouragement, was to proceed with the process and then submit all the documents to them in the normal course as we have now adopted a resolution to do so. I think the reason that the original notice was not published in the Mount Olive Chronicle is that the statute requires it to be placed in a newspaper, two newspapers of general circulation. I don't think, I know, the Mount Olive Chronicle does not qualify as a newspaper of general circulation and I think in fairness it has been said over and over again, the reason American Water, United Water was picked was that they were the low bidder by about $140,000 and that is in any number of the resolutions which we have previously adopted. So if the matter proceeds as Mr. Greenbaum has moved the resolution, we will obviously have some response from these three agencies before the contract could go in to operation.
Mr. Perkins: Mr. Dorsey, and I always respect the fact that you are an attorney and I am not, I am a bureaucrat. I can read State statute as well as anyone. For the public, I would ask the reasonable person clause to be looked at. What would a reasonable person believe this to be? Under the New Jersey Water Supply Act, under the notice of intention, that the Act, that at least 60 days prior to issuing the request for qualifications notify the Board of Public Utilities; under the short title of New Jersey Water Supply Public Private Contracting Act that at least 60 days prior to conducting the public hearing required under Section 6 that needs to be done within the 60 days; under the short title of the New Jersey Wastewater Treatment Privatization Act, that you need to notify at least 60 days prior to issuing a request for qualifications from individuals; and under the New Jersey Wastewater Treatment Public Private Contracting Act, the public entity shall provide at least 14 days prior to the public hearing notice in writing to the Department or the Division of its intent. So it is very specific and clear.
Mr. Dorsey: Wait, we are not dealing with wastewater.
Mr. Perkins: I understand that.
Mr. Dorsey: I've just been reading…
Mr. Perkins: I believe that you've taken the wrong portions out of context in the State statute and the statute is specific. How the courts or how this proceeding goes forward, I'm down on the record as that is the way it reads. It is within the 60 day time period. We are in violation of the 60 day time period. You may not agree, the majority of the Council may not agree. That's fine. They don't have to agree. That's the way the statute reads. It doesn't say that, oh, by the way, any time you feel like sending in the notice of intent, that's fine with us. The NOI falls within that 60 day period.
President Tobey: Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: Mr. Perkins has made it quite clear throughout the timeframe that he is not in favor of this proposal and in fact, is in favor of selling the systems outright so it does not come as a surprise to me at all that he is looking to derail this process and he may be right. I don't know. I can only rely upon the advice that I get from Counsel. At this point we are simply moving it forward to governmental agencies. Mr. Perkins has placed his position on the record which will be before the agencies and I would assume that if any of the agencies have a problem with the way that this particular resolution has been dealt with by this Council, they will let us know and would not give us the approvals which we are seeking to move it forward if in fact, Mr. Perkins is correct. So he certainly placed his position on the record and I just wholeheartedly believe that outright selling the systems is not in the best interest of Mount Olive as Mr. Perkins has suggested time and time again.
President Tobey: Any other Council Comments? Mr. Walsh.
Mr. Walsh: Okay. First of all I want to thank Mr. Pinto, Mr. Jones, Lou Guida or Guido?
Mr. Guido: Guido.
Mr. Walsh: Guido, okay. Thank you and Miss, I forgot your name, the first lady who spoke?
Mr. Roman: Wright.
Mr. Walsh: Wright. Thank you for coming here today and presenting your opinions very respectfully. I will let you know that I personally will be taking a lot of this information that you have brought very seriously and giving it the utmost consideration as I will the information by the Mayor and Mr. Higgins and everyone else. I will be reading the “Has Water Privatization Gone Too Far in New Jersey.” This report is excellent and I commend you on it. I'm not saying that I agree with it and I'm not saying that I agree with you but I am saying that I sincerely will be giving every consideration to all of this information. So I just wanted to thank you. Okay? All of you.
President Tobey: Mr. Perkins.
Mr. Perkins: Thank you Mr. President. For the record, let's make one thing abundantly clear, not only myself but other Council members including Mr. Greenbaum have at different times made the statement that we should not be in the water business and we should sell them. Selling the water assets is an option. It's not the albeit. It has its pitfalls. I've worked for a private utility. I understand how the game works. There's three options open right now. There always has been. One, sell it; two, just lease it; three, is do O&M. There is a fourth option, leave it the way it is. At present the residents of the Mount Olive Township water system in comparison to the rest of the other private developments, United Water, ironically enough has been successful in being the private water company of choice for at least two areas in the Township. Based upon their rates that are published under the DEP's website, an average 7,000 gallons a month with a 5/8 inch meter would cost the average residential customer $51.77 a month. Compare that to American Water at $46.68 a month. Aqua New Jersey who happens to also be another private company would be $45.18 a month. For those unfortunate people up at the top of the hill in Woodfield Estates that have Hackettstown MUA or down in Indian Park, they are paying $20.37 per month. Mount Olive Township residents are paying $15.96 a month. They are paying less than 1/3 of what the other 2/3's, the other at least 1/3 of the residents of the Township are paying. So the goal of whether we were to sell it or not is strictly a financial issue and whether we place the burden back on to the other 1/3 of the Township residents to pay the same fee that another 1/3 of the Township residents are paying and thereby have an offset in our bonding and our taxes. I'm not in favor of selling it. I am more in favor of leaving it status quo. It just happens to be an option ladies and gentlemen.
President Tobey: Miss Labow.
Mrs. Labow: Thank you Mr. President. One of the things that I haven't received any information on is, we are talking about losing, potentially, at least four employees, four staff members. Those staff members also perform other duties in the town such as snow removal and what I'd like to know is what are we going to lose on that end if we no longer have those staff members to conduct the other work that needs to be done. That is going to be a cost to the residents so have we, has anyone looked at those numbers to see what we are losing in that area. Mayor?
Mayor Scapicchio: Colleen…
President Tobey: Excuse me, Mayor? Miss Labow, while it is a valid question, I think it is premature. Once again, this is step one towards moving forward with other approvals to follow, an ordinance, and that is something that the Administration would have to look on a moving forward basis.
Mr. Dorsey: There would have to be a specific meeting on that on which RICE notices are given if indeed it is going to result in…
Mrs. Labow: One of the things that I have a huge concern about is, John, you've spent a tremendous amount of time on this which is a cost to the taxpayers. I don't know if it comes out of the water utility or not.
Mr. Dorsey: No, actually, that's not entirely true because under the arrangement United has to pay us certain fees in connection with this process.
Mrs. Labow: Okay, so in connection with this process the taxpayers aren't paying any money. We are not paying our Auditor, we are not paying our Town Attorney, we are not paying for ads. The water company is going to pick up all of those cost because the point that I'm making here…
Mr. Dorsey: Certainly…
Mrs. Labow: Let me finish please, is that we are expending a tremendous amount of time and resources on a project that ultimately may not even be approved by the Council if we start to look at the numbers and see that, hey, wait a minute. Maybe we really can't afford to lose four staff members irrespective of the water system itself. There is a lot of other ancillary things that going in to having those employees, things that we count on them or rely on them for that we may not be willing to lose and I think that we are kind of like putting the cart before the horse. We are not looking at all of our options and Mr. Perkins very aptly pointed out, there are four options. It's O&M, it's leaving it the way it is, selling it or outsourcing the leasing of it but we are not looking at the whole entire picture. We've never seen the figures on if we sold it or anything else and I don't understand why this Council and the public has not been given an opportunity to review all of the options side by side and I just don't see any point in moving forward with something that we may not ultimately approve.
President Tobey: Miss Labow, you just stated that we are spending an enormous amount of time and resources but yet you just said we should be exploring those other options also which that would also derive the same resources and time.
Mrs. Labow: Not necessarily. I mean we would have to look at it.
Mr. Dorsey: I think those issues will probably be at the public hearing on the actual ordinance if we get to that point.
Mrs. Labow: So we are going to have the State review this and everything else and we may not even…
Mr. Dorsey: We've done everything we need to do to have the State review it. If the State says no, then that's the end of this particular option. If they say alright, then we can proceed to have a comparison of the options that apparently, as I understand it, Mr. Perkins favors as he did at least last Fall for the sale of the system and you can make the comparison but somebody's got to get to first base in order to have these things proceed and the first step, at this point obviously in terms of this methodology is to have the State either approve or disapprove it.
President Tobey: Any other Council Comments? Mr. Perkins and then Mr. Roman.
Mr. Perkins: One last comment. The, I believe it was the Mayor and if not, Mr. Mayor I apologize, it was either you or Mr. Higgins who talked about the termination of the contract. Obviously, the termination of the contract is either by breach or default. The owner or the company make terminate prior to the expiration of its terms, five year term. That's five years from now. The other party has materially breached it or the party claimed to have committed the breach is then given 30 days written notice specifically detailing the nature of the alleged breach and the party that is claimed to have the breach shall have the right to cure the breach within a reasonable time which in no event shall be more than 90 days from the receipt of the notice. Termination for convenience – neither party may terminate this agreement without cause, so that is going back to the other breach, during the initial term of the agreement. However, either party has the option upon any subsequent renewal of the agreement to terminate the agreement with or without cause by giving the other party 90 days prior written notice. So ladies and gentleman, in five years I most likely will not be up here and I'm sure at least a few Council members that are sitting up here now won't be here but you won't be able to do anything for five years once you give this up unless there's been a material breach of that contract. So if the Township has no revenue coming in and it continues to lay people off and it is decided by the 2,400 residents that are now serviced by the public water systems says, you know what? We can afford to pay that extra $15 or whatever a quarter to be able to do this and I'll get a $300 tax savings, maybe we ought to take a sale on this. Thank you Mr. President.
President Tobey: Mr. Roman.
Mr. Roman: When this first process started, I was hoping to start hearing complaints from people that are serviced by the water system indicating that they wanted a change, they needed a change. About three months ago I put out in a public forum requesting from the people their views because I, myself, have well water so I have no experience with the city water or any private company and as of right now, I've received none. It's been my experience when people are dissatisfied with a service, they will come out and tell you about it. If they are satisfied, they generally don't say anything and at the prospect of saving only $33 per person per year, I am not at all comfortable with changing a service that from what I hear, or in this case lack of hearing, there is no problem with and the only problems that I'm aware of that have happened in the past have been water main breaks that would have happened whether it is, we were run by the Township or if it was run by a private company so that should not even factor in to the equation so I was hoping to hear a lot more public input today. I am kind of disappointed that there wasn't. I see a lot more people in attendance and I would really have preferred at least to have seen at least half of the audience participate. That's it.
President Tobey: Miss Labow, final comment please.
Mrs. Labow: I just wanted to make a, to add on to what Mr. Roman has said and I would have to say, I talk to a tremendous amount of people in the community and since this whole water issue started to surface last year, I have heard time and time again complaints from people about water where there has been, you know public companies, the private companies managing it. I haven't heard anybody complain about Mount Olive's management of the water systems, nothing but good things so I think it's the kind of thing if it's not broken why are you trying to fix it.
President Tobey: Mr. Mania, final comment please.
Mr. Mania: I'm just wondering if I'm out of order but the point that Mr. Guido made, I'm wondering if the representatives of United Water can answer some of those points that he made public. Am I out of order in asking that?
President Tobey: You know we are through with the public hearing but once again, just to confirm what Mr. Greenbaum had stated and Mr. Dorsey confirmed. This resolution is to move it along. There is a sequence of steps here. There are State approvals and there is eventually an ordinance. This is to get it to move along with work still to be done.
Mr. Mania: I understand that.
President Tobey: With that being said, Roll Call please.
ROLL CALL: Passed with the exception Mrs. Labow and Mr. Perkins voted No.
Mr. Roman: With the stated fact, just to move it one step further in the process of gaining information, yes.
President Tobey: Moving on, we will not be having the presentation of the sewer study this evening. That will be at a future date and at this time I will accept a motion to adjourn
Motion was made and seconded, all in favor and none opposed, the meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm.
Phil Tobey, Council President
I, Lisa 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 February 1, 2011.
Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk