Township Council Minutes
February 24, 2004
The Regular Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 7:30 pm by Council President Rattner with the Pledge of Allegiance.
MOMENT OF REFLECTION in recognition of the men and women fighting terrorism and those who have lost their lives defending the freedom we all enjoy
Open Public Meetings Law Announcement
According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting has been given to the Mount Olive Chronicle. 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.
ROLL CALL Present: Mr. Buell, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Elms, Mr. Rattner, Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Guenther
ALSO PRESENT: Mayor DeLaRoche; Cindy Spencer (Business Administrator);William Ruggierio, (Business Administrator Designee); Lisa Lashway, Township Clerk; John Dorsey, Township Attorney
Public Portion - None
Questions on Bill List?
Mr. Guenther: Just in general. It is an item you brought up in your email but just in general, for my own edification, there are a lot of bills and a lot of large ones, for example, from Chuck McGroarty’s firm, water testing Garden State, First Vehicle Services, Jeff Keller, Leggette Brashears Hydrological Services, Moore Industries, MUA for recyclables and Schoor DePalma which were 2003 bills and paid in 2004. What is the procedure with that? I know that in private industry you do an accrual and you then pay it against the prior year’s budget. How is that done here?
Mrs. Spencer: Whenever it is a contract where we know what the full amount of the year’s expenditures are going to be, the funds are encumbered, so they are carried forward, designated for use in those projects when the bills come due.
Mr. Guenther: How would I know that from looking at the bill when it’s paid? I don’t see anything to indicate on the bill whether it went against last year’s budget or this year’s budget.
Mrs. Spencer: Sherry will answer that for you.
Sherry Jenkins (CFO): If you actually look at the front of the purchase order, Bernie, you can see the date that it was encumbered in the upper right hand corner. You can also see where it’s charged. If it’s a 3, it’s the 2003 budget. If it’s a 4, it’s for the 2004 budget.
Mr. Guenther: Is it like a stamp or something in the upper right hand corner?
Mrs. Jenkins: It’s actually imprinted on the purchase order. It is the date that it was encumbered – upper right.
President Rattner: Are you talking the order date?
Mrs. Jenkins: I’m talking there’s usually a requisition date in the upper right hand corner of the purchase order.
President Rattner: Most of them have 2004 dates even though they were received…
Mrs. Jenkins: If they are blankets, we probably have the money set up in advance. We just drew it down, Steve.
Mr. Guenther: One other question on Moore Industries, annual update of asset database. What is that?
Mrs. Jenkins: We are required, there are technical accounting directives that we have to follow and one of those is that we have to have an annual fixed asset inventory done every year. If we don’t, we can get an audit recommendation for that so we’ve done that since I’ve been here to avoid that. We have a firm that comes in and updates all of our inventory. We have three huge printouts and we normally provide that to the insurance companies to make sure that we are insuring everything properly.
Mr. Guenther: So this is a once yearly charge?
Mrs. Jenkins: Once yearly, yes.
Mr. Elms: I guess you are the one to answer this, Steve, under the payments to the MSA there is a capital charge. What are we paying the MSA a capital charge for?
President Rattner: For our portion of the plant. When Mount Olive put in their sewer system, they had to have a place to send the sewage so they entered into a service agreement with the Musconetcong Sewerage Authority who then contracted to build an expansion plant just for the three towns that went in together, that was Roxbury, Mt. Arlington and us and that is our pro rata share of the plant that was built at the Authority.
Mr. Elms: When does that end?
President Rattner: Probably, I think it was originally a 17 year loan because it was under the Wastewater Trust.
Mr. Elms: Okay, the other question that I had was I see that the attorneys for the court are billing in advance for February when February is not over yet?
President Rattner: I’m not sure what you are talking about but that would be the Administration as to when they pay the bills.
Mr. Elms: Actually, it is a bill submitted by the Court for the attorneys from what I understand.
President Rattner: Which bills specifically? I’m not sure…
Mr. Elms: For Brian Mason and Marshall Gates. It’s a charge for February.
President Rattner: I think that’s a voucher from the firm itself. The Administration determines when it gets paid.
Mr. Elms: Are we paying them ahead of time?
President Rattner: Ask the Administration. They are the ones who pay it.
Mrs. Spencer: That bill is paid on a retainer basis so it’s an equal installment on a monthly basis.
Mrs. Labow: On the bill list for Turkey Brook for JCP&L there’s an electric bill for $778.33. Is that monthly or quarterly?
Mrs. Spencer: We get JCP&L bills monthly.
Mrs. Labow: So it costs us $778 a month for what at Turkey Brook? Why is the electric that high?
Mrs. Spencer: It would be the electric for the street lighting and I’d have to look at the specific bill to see if it was just the street lighting or if includes any power that may be used in the buildings. We do keep the heat on in the buildings through the winter at 55 degree.
Mrs. Labow: We have electric heat for that too?
Mrs. Spencer: I don’t know the answer. I’d have to look into it.
Jim Lynch (Bldgs., Grounds & Parks Supervisor): The bill for Turkey Brook Park is the street lighting around the loop, the lighting on the exterior of the buildings and the bathrooms are heated with electric so with the cold winter that we’ve had, the heat has been on constantly in those facilities.
Mrs. Labow: Is that typically what the average is, like $700-$800 a month for the electric for that?
Mr. Lynch: The heat is what is driving it higher during this portion of the year. Typically, I’d have to look back and see. We only had the buildings come fully online in the Fall so until I see next summer, I don’t know what a summer actual cost is going to be.
Mrs. Labow: So we are looking at, during the winter months, $700-$1,000 electric bills during the winter months?
Mr. Lynch: Depending on the temperatures, we keep those buildings to about 50 degrees.
Mrs. Labow: And that is just with the buildings we have. If we have more buildings that are going to come online with heat and stuff?
Mr. Lynch: No, those are the only two restroom facilities in the park.
Mrs. Labow: Wow, that’s a lot of money. Thank you.
President Rattner: Cynthia? You worked on Turkey Brook, didn’t we rent the lighting from JCP&L? Those light poles aren’t ours as far as I understand.
Mrs. Spencer: That is correct but we have to pay for the electric.
President Rattner: We have to pay for the lamps as a rental. Those street lights are rented. You were part of that weren’t you?
Mrs. Spencer: I believe so.
President Rattner: That is probably one of the major costs, or the major part of the cost. Instead of purchasing light poles, for whatever reason, we rented.
Mr. Buell: Just a comment, I’m looking for some background information. My concern is this control of us not being able to talk to department heads is causing a problem. For instance, looking at the telephone bill, I found out that directory assistance, whatever that means, I think it’s people making calls to find out telephone numbers is costing us $129 a month. My question was, is that what I’m really looking at, all of these calls being made by people asking for directory assistance. I think $129 a month is just hundreds and hundreds of requests for directory assistance. I think it is a problem but I don’t know whether it is a problem because I can’t talk directly to the department heads. It’s just a comment that I don’t think this control of us being able to ask questions of department heads is working.
President Rattner: Any other questions on the bill list? So at this point it looks like the bill list will go as submitted, right? Thank you.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETINGS
January 6, 2004 Present: President Rattner, Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Guenther, Mr. Buell, Mr. Elms, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Perkins
Feb. 10, 2004 CS Present: President Rattner, Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Guenther, Mr. Buell, Mr. Elms, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Perkins
Mrs. Labow moved for approval of the Minutes and Mr. Perkins seconded the motion. All in favor, none opposed, the Minutes were approved.
Resolutions, Ordinances, Correspondence from other Municipalities
1. Invitation received February 9, 2004 from the Jefferson Township Council inviting all Legislators, Freeholders, governing bodies and interested municipal employees to attend a technology roundtable.
2. Ordinance received February 11, 2004 from the Township of Roxbury to Amend and Supplement Chapter VII, Traffic, of the Revised General Ordinances of the Township of Roxbury.
3. Resolution received February 13, 2004 from the Borough of Mount Arlington requesting that the New Jersey Parole Board Deny Parole for Sindoata Acoli.
4. Resolution received February 19, 2004 from the Township of Hanover Calling Upon the Governor and State Legislature to develop and implement a plan of action concerning equitable funding of the State’s public schools and addressing the issue of meaningful tax reform.
5. Resolution received February 19, 2004 from the Borough of Mount Arlington supporting Senate Bill S-838 which would prohibit punitive damage awards against municipalities and municipal employees acting within the scope of authority.
6. Resolution received February 19, 2004 From the Borough of Mount Arlington opposing the State’s actions concerning the property tax reimbursement program.
New Jersey State League of Municipalities
7. League Newsletter received February 13, 2004 regarding the update on affordable housing and extended COAH Certification litigation.
8. Letter received February 19, 2004 from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities regarding a League Marketing seminar on Thursday April 22, 2004.
9. Letter received February 19, 2004 from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities regarding Bills which were enacted as the Public Laws of 2003.
County of Morris
10. Morris County Preliminary Equalization Table of 2004 received February 9, 2004
11. Letter received from Morris County Department of Transportation regarding the 28th Annual New Jersey State Transportation Conference & Expo.
12. Letter received February 20, 2004 from Morris County Community Development regarding Lou Nelson Park, Drainage, and Vehicle Purchase.
Letters from Legislative Representatives
13. E-newsletter received February 11, 2004 from Congressman Frelinghuysen regarding putting American workers first in a global economy.
14. Monthly emailer received February 16, 2004 from firstname.lastname@example.org
15. Emailer received February 17, 2004 from email@example.com regarding the annual Legislative Breakfast on March 10, 2004 at the Headquarters Plaza Hotel in Morristown.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
(Southern District of New York)
16. Notice received February 9, 2004 from the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York regarding Enron Corp.
17. Notice received February 18, 2004 from the United States Bankruptcy Court. Southern District of New York regarding Excess Value Insurance Coverage Litigation.
18. Letter received February 12, 2004 from the State of New Jersey Department of Transportation regarding property at Route 206 over Conlon Pond Brook, in Mt. Olive Township, Morris County.
19. Letter received February 19, 2004 from American Environmental Services, INC regarding a copy of an application for Block 900 Lot 39.01 Smithtown Road which was submitted to the NJDEP.
20. Letter received February 19, 2004 from the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection regarding Freshwater Wetlands Transition Area Waiver-Denial/Stipulation of Settlement for Applicant Viola LaValle. Block 3001, Lot 10, Second Street, Mount Olive Township, Morris County.
21. Letter received February 19, 2004 from American Environmental Services, Inc. regarding a copy of the required notification letter and project location map for Block 900 Lot 39.01 Smithtown Road which was submitted to the NJDEP.
22. Meeting minutes received February 9, 2004 from the Regular meeting of the Musconetcong Sewerage Authority, held on January 7, 2004.
23. Monthly COAH Newsletter received February 17, 2004.
24. Letter received February 17, 2004 from Thomas C. Kelly, Attorney for Mt. Olive Villages Water Company, Inc. and Mt. Olive Villages Sewer Company, Inc. Re: the Application of an amendment of Municipal Consent Franchise on an Emergent Basis.
25. Letter received February 19. 2004 from Cablevision regarding channel additions.
26. Letter received February 20, 2004 from John Dorsey Re: Caberson vs. Mt. Olive Township, et als, Notice of Motion Returnable March 5, 2004.
AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
27. Letter received From the American Cancer Society regarding updated information for Relay for Life.
28. Letter received February 20, 2004 from the South Branch Watershed Associated promoting the use of a CD-ROM title “a virtual Tour of the South Branch Raritan River.”
29. Letter received February 20, 2004 from French & Parrello Associates regarding an advertisement for their firm.
President Rattner: We have 29 items of Correspondence. Would anyone like to comment on any items on the Correspondence? Seeing none, we’ll move right along.
ORDINANCES FOR PUBLIC HEARING
Ord. #3-2004 An Ordinance of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing a Five Ton Weight Limitation on Manor House Road.
President Rattner opened the Public Hearing on Ord. #3-2004.
President Rattner: Before we get started and take questions, Mrs. Labow, did we get it right this time?
Mrs. Labow: Yes, it’s right this time.
President Rattner closed the Public Hearing.
Mr. Elms moved for adoption and final passage of Ord. #3-2004 and Mr. Greenbaum seconded the motion.
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
President Rattner declared that Ord. #3-2004 is passed on second reading and directed the Clerk to forward a
copy to the Mayor and publish the notice of adoption as required by law.
Ord. #4-2004 An Ordinance of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing a 35 mph Speed Limit on Smithtown Road and Mount Olive Road.
President Rattner opened the Public Hearing on Ord. #4-2004.
President Rattner closed the Public Hearing.
Mr. Buell moved for adoption and final passage of Ord. #4-2004 and Mr. Guenther seconded the motion.
Mrs. Labow: Why is this being changed to 35 mph?
Mr. Dorsey: I suppose that the Chief is the best one to respond to that. My recollection is, parts of these roads were at 35 and parts were at, I think, 40 and the Chief’s recommendation is that it should be uniform throughout these two roads.
Mrs. Labow: Why can’t we have it at 25?
Chief Katona: The roadway is a collector road on both roads, Mt. Olive Road and Smithtown Road. That means developments enter out onto that road and that road transports the vehicles out to our major highways. A 25 mph speed limit on those roads would not suit the traffic in the area. We are changing it because there have been changes and improvements to Smithtown Road that permit that speed. It will be one complete speed from the beginning of both roads to the ends of both roads so it will be consistent throughout.
Mrs. Labow: That I remember but there are also residential homes on those streets too so it still has to be 35?
Chief Katona: Thirty-five is the speed limit that will work for moving the traffic through there, correct?
Mrs. Labow: Is that mandated by the State or is that local ordinance.
Chief Katona: It’s a local ordinance that we are making. The State has two speed limits, 50 mph and 25 mph or as otherwise posted. You have the authority to create those speed limits on the local roadways.
Mrs. Labow: Thank you.
Mr. Elms: As a resident of Smithtown Road, I would hope that we start enforcing that 35 mph speed limit.
Chief Katona: We will, Mr. Elms.
ROLL CALL: Passed by the majority, Mrs. Labow voted No
President Rattner declared that Ord. #4-2004 is passed on second reading and directed the Clerk to forward a
copy to the Mayor and publish the notice of adoption as required by law.
ORDINANCES FOR FIRST READING
Ord. #6-2004 An Ordinance of the Township of Mount Olive Establishing Fees to be Charged by the Recreation Department for Programs for the Year 2004.
Mr. Guenther moved that Ord. #2-2004 be introduced by title and passed on first reading and that a meeting
be held on March 30, 2004, at 7:30 at the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road, Mount Olive,
NJ, for public hearing, consideration of second reading and passage of said ordinance and the Clerk be
directed to publish, post and make available said ordinance in accordance with the requirements of law. Mr.
Perkins seconded the motion.
Mr. Elms: Why is the second reading put off until the end of March?
Mrs. Lashway: I need that amount of time to publish in the Mt. Olive Chronicle because it is a weekly newspaper. I have to have a month in between for advertisement purposes.
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
CONSENT RESOLUTIONS AGENDA:
Resolutions on the 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 that may be offered. If one or more Council member requests, any individual resolution on the Consent Agenda may be removed from the Consent Agenda List and acted on separately.
1. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Release of Performance Guarantees Submitted by Brinker International. (Chili/Macaroni Grille)
2. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Release of Performance Guarantees Submitted in Connection with Longhorn Steakhouse/Rare Hospitality.
3. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing a Person-to-person Transfer of Alcoholic Beverage License No. 1427-33-006-005 from Alidan, Inc. Trading as the Boat House Restaurant to 96 Sandshore Road Liquor LLC. (Reza Hashemi) (Off)
4. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Release of Certain Performance Guarantees Posted by Toys ‘R’ Us.
5. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Amending the Temporary Budget for 2004 for the Current Budget.
6. Resolution of the Township of Mount Olive Providing for the Transfer of 2003 Budget Appropriations for the Current Fund Budget.
7. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Mayor to Execute a Treatment Works Approval for Woodfield @ Mount Olive Section IIIA.
8. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Mayor to Execute a Treatment Works Approval for Woodfield @ Mount Olive Section IIIB. (OFF)
9. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Authorizing the Mayor to Execute a Treatment Works Approval for Woodfield @ Mount Olive Section IIIC. (OFF)
President Rattner: It should be noted that we were advised by the Clerk earlier in the day that Resolution Nos. 3, 8 & 9 have been taken off most likely because of either some information that still needs to be received or some other technical issue. So with that, does anyone have any problems with Resolution Nos. 1,2, 4-7 and want to discuss them separately? Seeing none.
Mr. Perkins moved for approval of Consent Resolution Nos. 1,2, 4-7 and Mr. Greenbaum seconded the motion.
PUBLIC PORTION ON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON CONSENT RESOLUTIONS
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
RESOLUTIONS NON CONSENT
10. Resolution of the Township Council of the Township of Mount Olive Appointing Ulrich Steinberg as Acting Chief Financial Officer and Authorizing a Professional Services Contract to Him for Such Services. (Added)
Mr. Elms moved for approval of Resolution No. 10 and Mr. Perkins seconded the motion.
PUBLIC PORTION ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
Rich Bonte, Budd Lake: Forgive my ignorance, but what exactly is this about? Who made the motion?
Mr. Elms: I made the motion.
Mr. Bonte: What’s this about, Bob?
Mr. Elms: It’s about appointing an acting chief financial officer.
Mr. Bonte: Don’t we have a CFO?
Mr. Elms: No, we don’t.
Mr. Bonte: When did that happen?
Mr. Elms: As of December 31st.
Mr. Bonte: We haven’t had a CFO since December 31st?
Mr. Elms: That is correct.
Mr. Bonte: Is that correct, Mr. Rattner?
President Rattner: Mr. Dorsey, that is really not correct. We’ve had a CFO in a holdover position.
Mr. Dorsey: That is my understanding of the law. My understanding was that the Mayor wanted this person to essentially evaluate the current CFO for purposes of attempting to evaluate her technical ability, etc. in the position.
Mr. Bonte: So do we or don’t we have a CFO?
Mr. Dorsey: We have a CFO.
Mr. Bonte: And we will continue to have a CFO until such time as the Mayor discharges her from her duties, relieves her of her duties. Is that correct?
Mr. Dorsey: There is a certain process for that, yes.
Mr. Bonte: So until he does that we have a CFO?
Mr. Dorsey: Yes.
Mr. Bonte: I don’t understand why we need an acting CFO at $175 an hour. I can’t imagine what that person could possibly do to benefit the town in four hours once a week. I would strongly recommend that you not approve this resolution. Thank you. And I would just like to add that if the current CFO is not acceptable or her job performance is not acceptable to the Mayor that the Mayor take steps to remove her and not reappoint her but I don’t view this as the answer to this issue. It’s $19,000 wasted.
Ned McDonald, Budd Lake: Mr. Elms, I think you should get your facts straight before you attempt to spend $19,950 of taxpayer’s money for something as ridiculous as this. I just don’t understand what game is going on here of having an acting CFO essentially working 13 days in the next year and why is this period of March 1st through September 1st? What’s magical about those dates?
Mr. Elms: The contract is for six months, Ned, and her CFO duties were removed by letter on December 31st.
Mr. McDonald: Could you repeat that please?
Mr. Elms: The CFO from last year, the Mayor removed her CFO duties as of December 31st.
Mr. McDonald: He may have removed her duties but he didn’t remove the CFO according to our Township Attorney. So we do have a CFO. I think this is just political gamesmanship and I resent the fact that something like this is thrown down the throats of the citizens of this town. I just don’t understand it at all and I’m very
Mr. McDonald (cont’d): upset about it and I think that it is a terrible waste of money to try and do something like this particularly the way things are and the fact that you don’t seem to have your facts straight as to who our CFO is. Thank you.
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
Mr. Greenbaum: Colleen, I won’t say I’m troubled. I won’t say it. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Bonte and Mr. McDonald. As I stated last time when this ordinance was brought up, this is a complete waste of money and I believe that we should put all of the facts on the table as to what this really represents. In my mind this is an attempt to get around the tenure issue which Sherry Jenkins could possibly get as CFO if she qualifies based upon her years of experience, years of service to the township because there is a provision which allows her to get tenure. Although the ordinance speaks to evaluating her services, I think you hit it right on the head, what the heck is this guy going to do in four hours. It’s a waste of money. We had a presentation from the Police Department this past Saturday that we need a dispatcher and we’re struggling with our budget currently as to where we are going to find the money to fund such a position and it was an absolutely moving presentation as to the need for the dispatcher. Here’s $20,000 that would otherwise be spent for some reason which I cannot imagine. My understanding of the law is that Sherry is still the CFO. Sherry stays as the CFO so long as there is no appointment and qualification from Council. My understanding of the law is that that time does not count towards tenure. That the only time that counts towards tenure is the timeframe that she is actually qualified and appointed. So the tenure issue is really a non-issue, a red herring as far as I’m concerned. I just don’t understand why this needed to be brought back up. We discussed this a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was a dead issue but I guess not.
Mr. Buell: I also think that this is a total waste of time, effort and money. I was a consultant. I did go to a lot of different clients. I couldn’t possibly even find the bathroom in four hours once a week and I will say that I’m troubled purposely because I am troubled by this. I don’t know what the purpose is. If we need a CFO and if the Mayor is not satisfied with the current CFO, then he should go out and search for a different CFO and hire one. I think it is time for him to make his decision in terms of who he wants on his team and begin to put together a team. He’s finally got a business administrator who will start on March 3rd. I think if he is dissatisfied with the services of our current CFO, I think he should ask Mr. Bill Ruggierio, as his first duty, his first function is to go out and begin to search for a new CFO. I also agree that this is about one half of a dispatcher. Thank you.
Mrs. Labow: I’d like to ask the Mayor, have you advertised yet for a CFO?
Mayor De La Roche: I’m sorry?
Mrs. Labow: Have you put in any advertisements for a new CFO?
Mayor De La Roche: I’ve interviewed a number of CFOs as you well know.
Mrs. Labow: I don’t believe I know that. I don’t think you’ve actually interviewed any CFOs.
Mayor De La Roche: Yes.
Mrs. Labow: You actually, physically interviewed them or you reviewed resumes’.
Mayor De La Roche: I reviewed a substantial number of resumes’.
Mrs. Labow: But you didn’t actually speak to any of them.
Mayor De La Roche: I spoke to a couple.
Mrs. Labow: But no advertisements ran.
Mayor De La Roche: No because I was hoping to retain the present CFO if in fact she measures up to the job and if she is willing to and the Council finds her acceptable. It’s a matter of consent again so I don’t want this to be misinterpreted. The money that Miss Sherry will be using, she’ll be working in the tax office because we don’t have a tax collector at this moment so she’ll be working in there for the full day of Friday. So the money is not lost, it’s recouped on another department. So the money is not being wasted. The money that is being spent for the temporary CFO is coming out of Ms. Jenkin’s salary and she will be getting additional money for her full time work in the tax office on Fridays.
President Rattner: Any other comments?
Mr. Guenther: I’d like to know, the Mayor just mentioned recoup from some other department. I’d like to know what department. I did have a meeting with the Mayor this afternoon where he tried to explain it to me that apparently there was this collector clerk, if I have the job designation correct, who was not hired and there is a salary in there supposedly available. When you review the budget, in fact, the final submission, that salary had been removed. So my question is, where would this money come from. It’s certainly extra money but beyond that point, I think both Mr. Greenbaum and Mr. Buell made a pretty good point. Mr. Bonte stole some of my thunder. I feel exactly as he does but beyond that, if anybody had been here this Saturday, this last Saturday for the presentation that the police chief made on the kind of errors that are occurring because of lack of staffing with a dispatcher, you would have been almost brought to tears. I certainly was and this is unconscionable to spend this kind of money when we have a dire need for the safety of our citizens.
Mr. Perkins: I’m troubled by where the money is coming from. I’m troubled about the fact that I believe two weeks ago I had asked if there was any reorganization in that department that had taken place, Mr. Mayor. I would still be respectfully requesting that you let me know. Has there been any reorganization, shifting of personnel, personnel performing different duties and being paid out of other departments which do not come directly from finance are actually being charged to the rate payers of the water and sewer utilities when that work is not being performed. I, like yourself, whether you decide to recommend Ms. Jenkins as the CFO or if you find it necessary to have to remove her and replace her with a qualified expert, the faster you get that qualified expert in here, the faster and happier I’ll be.
Mayor De La Roche: Also keep in mind that Ms. Jenkins has both licenses, the CFO and the tax collector so we will need two personnel to replace her.
Mr. Buell: You don’t need two personnel. I have interviewed at least one person who both has the CFO, the tax collector and the tax assessor which I have submitted to Mayor De La Roche. I think the man is qualified. I think he should have been considered. If he is looking for a CFO, he hasn’t even interviewed the individual. I talked to the individual last Saturday. He’s still interested in the position. I referred him to Mr. Ruggierio. I would like to know why the Mayor has not interviewed this particular individual if he is so dissatisfied with the CFO.
Mayor De La Roche: I haven’t said that I was dissatisfied with the CFO. What I said was that I wanted time to consider her as a long time employee and everyone else keeps saying that I am dissatisfied with her. I am not necessarily dissatisfied with her. I’m trying to review her history here. I did not hire her but I am considering her as a long time employee attempting to keep her on staff if I can if I find her to be doing the job satisfactorily and also, the person that you mentioned, as I indicated to you at the time, but you don’t seem to remember these things, I indicated to you that I am aware of the individual you recommended. I know the town better than anybody here since it was a town very close to a town I represented. There have been a number of indictments which came out of that town. I didn’t think that the Township of Mount Olive wanted to take on another possible problem by hiring someone who is coming out of an area that is under investigation by the prosecutor of that county so that’s basically the reason and I find that Sherry has both licenses. As I indicated to you, we have someone actually working under her license but at this juncture she would be in the tax office the entire day which would be tantamount to the same amount of money that we would be paying for the new CFO or the temporary CFO so this is the logic behind it. If that is not acceptable to the Council, then, you know, so be it. We’ll take it from there but in an opportunity or in an attempt to save a long time employee and in an attempt to satisfy both licenses, I have taken this step with the matter of the money in both of these departments, I have discussed it in detail with Sherry on a number of occasions, she has agreed to it and we are attempting to do something here to save a long time employee and give her a fair opportunity to be evaluated. It’s very easy for me just to say goodbye if that is what the people in Mount Olive think we should do with long time employees. Simply cut them? I don’t know. I don’t see it that way. I believe that they should be given a fair evaluation and if anybody thinks that I can evaluate a CFO who has been on staff for years in a matter of couple of weeks, I would respectfully submit that this not a simple task so that was the reasoning behind it. My motives were good if the Township and the Council don’t agree with that, well that’s apparently what’s going to happen since I need confirmation from the Council so if this is the case, if the Township Attorney is telling me that the law has been stated that that is in fact the case, then we can reconsider but that is not my understanding of the law, not as has been explained to me that a holdover would not necessarily get tenure or anything else so it is a matter of balancing priorities and considering what I consider to be fair and that is what I have attempted to do and I think certainly Ms. Jenkins, I thought she was entitled to that but it is very simple for me to say, adios if that is what everybody wants. I wouldn’t think that the township employees would like me to take that stand and I shouldn’t think that the Council would want me to do that either, but of course, I am not the absolute law so we’ll find out. If that is what you want me to do, I’ll do it.
Mr. Buell: I don’t think anyone said adios. I think people have said, make a decision. You are going to…
Mayor De La Roche: I think that is what I have done. I have made a decision. You don’t seem to agree with it so you have…
Mr. Buell: Mayor De La Roche, I think I’m speaking.
Mayor De La Roche: I know you are.
Mr. Buell: Mayor De La Roche, you are going to make a decision. You’ve been…
Mayor De La Roche: I’ve made a decision.
Mr. Buell: You’ve been working with this person since Thanksgiving. You sat in budget hearings with her after Thanksgiving, excuse me, before Thanksgiving. She’s worked with you. She’s prepared the budget with you. You’ve worked with her closely to prepare this budget that you’ve prepared. You presented it to the Council as your budget and you are going to, let’s say you decide to say adios, then you are going to go out and select another CFO and you are going to select that person in an interview of a half hour or an hour or two hours.
Mayor De La Roche: I have no idea what that means.
Mr. Buell: How are you going to select this new CFO?
Mayor De La Roche: You read a resume’ and you spoke to the person for ten minutes and you’ve decided that they are qualified. We have different philosophies. I want to see somebody working on the job. I want to see how they perform in order to determine, if in fact, I think they are appropriate for the job. If you see someone and you speak to them on the telephone for ten minutes and you read their resume’ and you think that qualifies them to run the finances of the town, we have different philosophies obviously. I’m attempting to keep someone who has been doing the finances for a number of years. It seems more logical to me that we would consider…
President Rattner: Mayor, you’re repeating yourself. You made your statement. I’ve been lenient in just letting you continue on, now you are repeating the same thing for the third time. You still have the floor, Mr. Buell.
Mr. Buell: You said that you’ve read the law, you’ve talked to our town attorney concerning whether his legal opinion on whether or not we have a CFO or not and whether or not she would attain tenure without, as Mr. Greenbaum indicated, without you nominating her and we consenting to her.
Mr. Greenbaum: Several comments. I have six written down. I’ll go through them as briefly as possibly. After this issue was raised, I sent the Mayor a memo asking him to identify those candidates that he actually interviewed for CFO. I got no response. The last time this issue was raised, I asked the Mayor at the meeting, who he had actually interviewed. The one individual who he identified was an individual from Jersey City but indicated that that person was not available. I just would like to point out that there certainly have been indictments out of Jersey City recently. I’m not aware of any indictments related to the one individual who has been referenced out of the town of Guttenberg which specifically relate to that individual. So to the extent that the Mayor is going to have a policy that he is not going to consider firms or individuals that are in any way connected with indictments, I find that to be a worthy position to take and I would hope that he would follow through on that as we go down the road because I know for a fact that it is going to be an issue in a week or two because certain other appointments that the Mayor has made which will be part of Council consideration also deal with the same issue that particular firms are involved with, let’s just say, unethical conduct or at least the allegation of unethical conduct. I find that to be a worthy policy to pursue. I believe that it is in the town’s best interest that we don’t get involved with anybody who is in any way connected to an allegation of unethical conduct where we can uncover same and I would hope that you would consider that in terms of your appointments as we go forward. One last question. Sorry. Where do you propose getting the money to retain Mr. Steinberg from?
Mayor De La Roche: As I explained already, I think, first of all let me answer the first part of your statement, right? As I understand it, this has been a problem in the past before with, and I still haven’t heard your township attorney saying that Ms. Jenkins would not get tenure. I haven’t heard you on the record. I haven’t spoken with him so if he wants to put it on the record that Ms. Jenkins would not get tenure as a holdover under any circumstances, I would certainly consider that. I never indicated that I spoke with your township attorney. I’ve spoken with other attorneys and they’ve had the same discussion with the certification people in the State of New Jersey and that was the basis of my decision. It had nothing to do with your township attorney and I believe your township attorney has undergone this type of scrutiny himself in the past for over billing, I believe and so,
Mayor De La Roche (cont’d): it is not an unusual circumstance for people put in this position to have to respond so I don’t think that we are particularly in a position that’s unique to Mount Olive. I’m trying to avoid getting into these positions but since you’ve brought it up, I’d be glad to discuss it if you want because you know that this has been a problem in the past and may very well be a problem in the future.
President Rattner: Did you get your answer?
Mr. Greenbaum: No, I didn’t get an answer to where this is going. The only question I had, actually, was where does the Mayor propose taking the money from the budget to fund Mr. Steinberg’s position.
Mayor De La Roche: I was responding to your comments regarding indictments and so forth. I’ll explain to you if you give me an opportunity. As I indicated to you, the money would be taken out of Ms. Jenkins’ salary as the CFO, right, and she would be paid an additional stipend for the full day of taxes when she is working in the tax department. So, the money substantially stays the same for her salary, which I feel is appropriate for a long time employee. I’m not looking to cut her salary. I had this discussion. The other part of it would be going to the CFO to use his license and he is a highly placed republican auditor under Christie Whitman’s administration. He’s not a democrat. He’s a republican auditor under Christie Whitman’s administration. He was in charge of all the auditors in the State so he is highly qualified and Mr. Rattner, as a matter of fact, has used him as a quote in one of his recent issues so we all know that he is prominent in the field. The attempt here was to do what I just indicated to you to maintain a long time employee, to give her a fair evaluation, or the other choice I had was to just cut her loose. I did not personally feel it was appropriate to do that to any employee and as you all know, I have not cut one employee even though I have not appointed any of the employees so I don’t know why I have the resistance from the people who hired them but apparently that is the case so I will reevaluate the situation and we’ll take it from there.
Mr. Greenbaum: You still haven’t answered my question.
Mayor De La Roche: I did answer your question.
Mr. Greenbaum: Look, I’d just like you to explain it further. What you told me is that you are going to take money from Sherry’s salary to pay Mr. Steinberg. Then Sherry is going to make up what she is losing in her salary as CFO and doing extra work as a stipend.
Mayor De La Roche: In the tax office, yes, because we are utilizing her tax license. Maybe she could explain it to you better since she is the finance person.
Mr. Greenbaum: Correct? And where…I’d like to know from you.
Mayor De La Roche: I just told you.
Mr. Greenbaum: Where is the money coming from the tax office that is going to be paid for the stipend.
Mayor De La Roche: It’s in the tax account. It’s in the tax office account.
Mr. Greenbaum: No, it’s not. I’d like to know where in the tax account it is?
Mayor De La Roche: It’s in the form of a job that was not replaced since we do not have a tax collector at the moment.
Mr. Greenbaum: Tax collector clerk. That was your position originally that it was the tax collector clerk’s position which was going to be eliminated and the money from that position was going to be used to pay Mr. Steinberg. I understood that and I understand what you are telling me now. The problem is, Mayor, that when you submitted the budget, that position, the funding for that position was eliminated. It is not in the budget so there is no such funding available to do exactly what you are saying that you would like to do even if we agreed that we wanted to go forward with this. So I ask you again, now knowing what I’ve just told you, where would the money come from if that funding is not available as I said. Obviously the Council would restore it if they were in favor of it. If they chose not to be in favor of it, then I guess the employees, we would start the job of eliminating employees if that is what the Council wants.
Mr. Guenther: The budget, as it was submitted, eliminated the funding for that collection clerk -
$29,959. The budget as submitted…
President Rattner: Which was a vacant position.
Mr. Guenther: Yes, it’s vacant. The person was not replaced. The budget as submitted proposes a 16% increase. We are struggling to get that down. In other words, this is going to be untouchable. This is not an amount of money, we can’t even touch it. It’s not even something we can eliminate. It’s already been eliminated.
Mayor De La Roche: You are, of course, aware that you can restore it if you feel that Ms. Jenkins should be retained.
Mr. Guenther: That will increase the amount of increase in the budget, maybe by only .1 or .2%, but you are restoring something you’ve already taken out when you submitted the budget to us.
Mayor De La Roche: I originally proposed Mr. Steinberg a number of months ago and apparently the Council was not in favor of it at the time.
President Rattner: Wait a minute.
Mr. Guenther: A number of months ago? Two weeks ago was the first we heard about this.
Mayor De La Roche: No, that’s not true.
President Rattner: Okay, no bantering back and forth. I have just a few comments. The first thing, Mr. Mayor and I’m going to ask you to show at least some protocol and some respect. I don’t call you their Mayor. I don’t call you that Mayor. I call you Mayor and most of us and most of the people in the public. You are the Mayor of the Township of Mount Olive. Whether we voted for you, whether we agree with you or not, you’re the Mayor. We have other positions. As of right now you may not like it, you may disagree with it, but Mr. Dorsey is the Township Attorney. Just like every employee that is on the township payroll today. Not like what you also accused of us at the last public meeting is they’re your public employees. NO, they’re employees and officers and department heads and most of them residents of Mount Olive Township and they should be addressed as such.. Just as you want to be addressed with respect, that the office deserves, you should do the same whether it be a clerk, whether it be a supervisor, whether it be a department head or any other duly, hired or appointed official of this town. We can have disagreements, but I think you have to show a little bit of respect. It is one thing to say to the attorney. thank you. OK.
Mayor De La Roche: I’ll agree with that. I have no problem with that. And since you apologized to me by waving your finger at me at the last meeting in disrespect and you were gracious enough to apologize to me, I will apologize to Mr. Dorsey and anyone else I’ve offended in that respect but as long as it is mutual, I have no problem with anything anybody does.
President Rattner: Thank you.
Mayor De La Roche: You’re welcome.
President Rattner: The next thing with this. We talked briefly about this a few weeks ago. I said I could support the concept. At the workshop when I said I had certain issues and if we could get those issues resolved, I could support it and we kept going. There were a couple. I didn’t like some things in the contract and I wanted to know where it was getting paid from because at first you said it was coming out of somebody’s salary. Then it was coming out of money that we had. I think you are changing it a little bit saying that it is not money we have, it’s money we had if we put money in the budget to have it which is a convoluted way of getting there but even more than that, Mayor, the Council, through the Clerk, I know on Friday because the question came up about the issue of Mr. Steinberg and the Clerk checked with your office and said, do we have anything forthcoming, do we have the revised contract or whatever because we want to make sure that we have everything in place so that when we put it on the agenda, it can be heard appropriately and she did that. I believe she also checked with you yesterday and I believe your office said that the contract was going back to Mr. Dorsey’s office, that there were some other changes that had to be made and I get a copy on the amended agenda tonight. Mayor, I will say right now that I don’t think you’ve read the contract. Mayor, I guarantee you haven’t read the contract. The first thing I noticed which was real small, real quickly, was I guess Mr. Dorsey tried putting this together based on all the conversations, arguments, in between the yelling at the last workshop. Trying to get it all down. I notice the first thing that we are going to pay on a weekly basis as a salary. Okay, that’s easy because we agreed that it would be a contractor. I then look that he’ll be paid on a weekly basis. I’m not sure if we have that availability. Another minor detail I’m sure would not mean anything but when I read over this contract, if I can get this person for what this contract says, I’m still for it and we talked today. It eliminated the minimum amount of
President Rattner (cont’d): time. It just says that he is going to be hired for $19,950 or $767.31 a week to perform as acting chief financial officer, I guess that means that he uses his licenses, he’ll sample the work of the chief financial officer and report to the quality of the work, sign and or review the signature on checks and the documents authorized by the governing body and I know that’s a big joke because I know when I just go through it, assist with the preparation of the municipal budget which we are still working on, we still have a lot of work to do on that and other work as may be assigned by the township administrator and or the township. If I can get that, exactly what’s in here and all the terms of the contract, regardless of what has gone out to the press, regardless of what I just heard here for the last 20 minutes, I will enthusiastically support this contract. I don’t think you read it because to have this, because the way I read this and when you go through it, after the EEO stuff, the affirmative action stuff and this other stuff that is in an employment contract, I read this to mean like he’s just the same as a full time employee. So even though the Clerk today or yesterday was checking with your office and said that you were reviewing it and had some changes you were going to be making on this, I’m looking at this and I don’t think you reviewed it. I would suggest that you read it real quickly in the next two or three minutes. I’m ready to vote on this right now and hire this person with these parameters that are in the contract.
Mayor De La Roche: Okay, as you indicated at the last meeting that we had discussing this, you asked me to have Mr. Dorsey rewrite the contract and he, in fact, rewrote it.
President Rattner: Who gave him the instructions? Just notes he got from here or did your office actually work with him to make sure it is right? I don’t think that you worked with him. I think what he tried doing was taking notes from all of the bartering back and forth and tried putting together a contract but I don’t know of any document that has ever come here when it is important or it is an employment contract, that the person who wants it makes sure that all of the details are in there. I don’t think you worked on this. I think you just left it up to whatever and I don’t think you reviewed it. I’ll still support this. When you left the message and I got back to the Clerk and I said I wanted, as long as the contract has my items in it, my items were taken care of, and I see where the money is. I still have a problem with the money because I have the budget page right here which shows zero dollars and by saying, if the Council puts it in, we’ll have the money to pay, but it really is not costing anything. I told you the last time that I have a problem with that. If it was from the existing money that was available in the finance department, that is how I was sold on it and that is what I told you at the time but look at the contract. I don’t think that you spent the time with it. I’m finding out that this is the time you are spending on a lot of other issues that I think are very very important to the town. I would recommend, or Mr. Elms, since he moved it, if you want to look at it real quickly, Mr. Elms, do you want to approve this contract as it is written? As I said, I think it is a great deal for us. Mr. Steinberg was not the head of all the auditors. He was in the financial review division of the Department of Community Affairs. Yes, he is a very capable person and yes, I quoted him because I used his guidance when we want to do things just as we should but this is not the way we prepare stuff, especially when I get it on an amended agenda and I had to read it real quick. I probably spent more time than your whole administration. Anybody else, any one want to take a roll call on this? It’s been moved and seconded. We have to take a roll call.
ROLL CALL: Defeated
Mr. Buell, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Guenther, Mr. Greenbaum Voted NO
Mr. Elms, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Rattner Voted YES
President Rattner: I still think it was a great contract. I think it was a wonderful contract.
Mayor De La Roche: Thank you very much for your opinion. Mr. Steinberg agreed to it too. It’s too bad that we lost him.
President Rattner: He didn’t agree to this contract. If he agreed to this contract, I’ll bring it back to each meeting. I’ll tell you what. If he agreed to this contract and you can convince me, I will donate $100 to any charity of your picking and I would expect the same thing back so at least the town can benefit. I don’t think he reviewed this contract.
Mayor De La Roche: What was that you were saying about respecting people? I’m sorry, I must have forgotten it.
President Rattner: No, I’m just saying that you said he looked at it. I’m telling you….
Mayor De La Roche: I absolutely did. You are talking about a catch all phrase respecting that he would review work as assigned by the administrator. Obviously it is within the control of the administrator and maybe he
Mayor De La Roche (cont’d): wouldn’t abuse the person, but that again is a matter of consideration and discussion.
President Rattner: I just said that I do like the contract. It would have been advantageous to the township.
Mayor De La Roche: You had your opportunity to vote.
President Rattner: I did and I voted affirmatively.
New Library Construction Report
Jane Israel, Library Board President: We have a bill on the agenda to be paid from Blackstone in the amount of $157,437 and I would like to tell the Mayor and Council and the people the progress so far on the Library. I have a report from the construction manager and he reports that the above grade block exterior walls remain 95% plus or minus because there has been no work recently due to the inclement weather. The structural steel is erected 80% plus or minus and the balance due in February. We have a couple of more days but with the weather out there today, I guess we probably didn’t finish that. The wood truss erection at the east and west wings is plus or minus 90% and the wood sheathing at the wings is plus or minus 90% combined. Asphalt shingles are being installed at the front face of the east and west roof lines and the tongue and groove decking and balance of the rafter and truss framing at the center will follow as weather permits. The HVAC roof curves have been set and are prepared to receive the units. Interior metal stud framing at the east and west wings is on going along with the interior perimeter furring. Electrical service panels are set at the basement level and secondary cables are pulled but not terminated. Plumbing and sprinkler work proceeds at the basement and main level with the gas and water mains being fabricated and installed. All in all, the project spending remains within budget and the details are reflected in the budget summary which we have here. The bill that we are submitting today has been approved by the architect, the construction manager and the Library Board and it shows that the total construction is now at 44% complete. I was asked to comment on the details of the construction manager’s contract. We did have a lot of discussion about that contract. What it turned out to be finally was that the contract is a firm amount of $120,000 which means that the construction manager would work from April 2003 until we receive a temporary CO on the building and to date $82,000 has been paid to Construction Services Scott Ayers. I have for you tonight the library’s annual report which we are required by the State of New Jersey to give to you each year. This is for 2003. Is there any other questions that I can answer for you?
President Rattner: Jane, it’s good seeing at least the work, how much work is actually being done? I know it’s closed in but is much really getting done right now or are they pretty slow because it’s too cold for the most part.
Mrs. Israel: They have heaters inside there is still quite a bit of exposure to the weather because the middle part hasn’t been totally enclosed but they are moving right along in the interior, not putting up the walls but furring to frame the interior. They are working on that.
President Rattner: They are still able to do some of that work. If you had to guess right now, we know schedules and hopes and everything else, when does the contractor and building manager think it is really going to be done. We realize schedules are just that, they are just a projected schedule.
Mrs. Israel: Blackstone feels that they can catch up and they can meet their original date of June 30th and we hope they can without jeopardizing quality or whatever. We’ll hope for June 30th. If it is a few weeks later and it’s done right, we’ll be happy too.
Mrs. Labow: What is the status on the gas leak?
Mrs. Israel: That was fixed by the gas company. We had an accident report that was submitted. Evidently a 2 x 4 fell off the roof and hit a connection which caused the gas to escape and I know the police were called and the fire department responded also and the gas company did come and fix the leak so it’s fixed now and I think the architect, at this point, is looking to make that safer although we don’t expect any more 2 x 4’s to fall off the roof. Once the building is occupied and there is no need for people to be up there…
Mrs. Labow: I’m not sure what it looks like over there. Shouldn’t it be enclosed and have some kind of protection.
Mrs. Israel: It’s my understanding that it really can’t be enclosed. Do you have a comment on that Jerry? It can’t be.
Mrs. Labow: You can’t have any kind of awning or covering over the top?
Mrs. Israel: That we might be able to put up a shelf or something like that. I can’t have a cage over it or something like what you would think would be a good protection.
Mrs. Labow: It just gets really windy up here.
Mrs. Israel: That’s true but hopefully there is nothing that would be there loose to fall down. Anyway, the architect is looking at that to make sure that wouldn’t happen again even after we occupy.
Mrs. Labow: I have one more question. What is the status for the shelving, cabling and furniture?
Mrs. Israel: As you know the fundraising for the furniture and equipment was very disappointing to us on the Library Board. Many residents stepped forward and we greatly appreciate that, however, the corporate community, their response was less than we expected partly because of the poor economic climate but at this moment we are not ready with our firm figures or actual figures for the additional monies for these purposes. We have some information. We’ve been working hard trying to get everything together for you. All indication is that we would stand by the estimate that we made for the capital budget request but I do have some notes if you’d like?
Mrs. Labow: I’m just wondering if it all came together.
Mrs. Israel: Not quite but as you know, because you are on the Board, I’m sorry, you are not on the Board, you are the liaison. I can’t exactly say on the Board. The Board has entered into a contract with Dennis Cole and Associates to write the specs and oversee the award and installation of the book stacks and panels and furniture because they will have to go to bid. Rita has interviewed three furniture dealers and they all feel that $300,000 which we had estimated in the budget request is adequate for the lower end of mid-quality furnishings for the new facility. There are other things, for instance, the computers and printers would be purchased on state contract. There are very specific requirements for those. Again, our original request of $35,000 seems to be appropriate. The cable figure has not yet been confirmed. We combined the computer drops, the telephone and the announcement speakers into one request and we haven’t received an estimate for them. We have two telephone quotes which are very close and also Rita has been talking to moving companies about the actual moving. If we have a professional firm, we’ll get in there much quicker and the books will be where they are supposed to be and so on but it’s pretty costly. The couple of people that we’ve spoken to, it’s going to be about $40,000. That, too, would have to go to bid.
Mr. Greenbaum: Jane, I heard you talk about your capital request. Is that for this year’s budget?
Mrs. Israel: Yes, actually we were asked to come up with capital, actually a five year capital.
Mr. Greenbaum: Did you this year request money in our capital ordinance for the library related to the purchase of furniture and if so, how much money was included in your request?
Mrs. Israel: The request was for $455,000.
Mr. Greenbaum: Mayor, did the administration, I recall getting a memo from you as to your priorities in terms of capital funding and my recollection, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that there was no capital for the Library. I’m just asking if that is correct in terms of my recollection. I don’t have the memo in front of me.
Mrs. Spencer: Your recollection is correct and that is because there is a current ordinance for the Library with sufficient funds if the Council were to consider that. It already exists.
Mr. Greenbaum: So it was cut out of the regular capital because there is additional funding related to the Library construction.
President Rattner: If you remember for the Library, the bids came in considerable less than what was expected. We’ve got to get lucky once in a while.
Mr. Greenbaum: I understand.
President Rattner: Mr. Bonte, what was the nature of your question?
Mr. Bonte: I have two questions regarding the progress that she reported.
President Rattner: You are not going to ask her to evaluate the numbers she presented tonight because I don’t think she is up to that task.
Mr. Greenbaum: Steve, I’d like to hear what Mr. Bonte has to say. You can rule him out of order…
President Rattner: We usually don’t but if it is something relevant, but not something technical.
Richard Bonte, Budd Lake: Did you say that the Library construction was 44% complete or the funds expended was 44% of what you had estimated the cost of this?
Mrs. Israel: The construction is 44% complete, however, that doesn’t include all of the site work, the retention pond and everything. You can’t look at the building and say it’s half done.
Mr. Bonte: But you said the construction is 44% complete and how much percentage of the funds have we expended?
Mrs. Israel: The funds that we have expended are $2,225,769.49.
Mr. Bonte: How much was the total?
President Rattner: Mr. Bonte, I know that those documents are checked by their construction manager and then they come here before we will issue a check and the worksheets are part of the request and they include documentation of how much work has been completed and then there is retainage that is put on it and then we pay that net amount.
Mr. Bonte: All I’m asking is to see if the amount of money that has been released to date is commensurate with the percentage of construction that is complete. I don’t think that is an unreasonable request.
President Rattner: But you are asking the President of the Library Board. It’s technical.
Mr. Bonte: That’s not a technical question.
President Rattner: Well, for her it would be.
Mrs. Israel: I have all the paperwork and the Council, I think, has all of this paperwork too. It’s all done by computers.
President Rattner: Cynthia, do you have the vouchers there? Because I think, on the back there is the worksheet which lists by item the total percentage of the work, the value of the work that has been completed, less the retainage, how much we’ve paid. That’s exactly what Mr. Bonte is asking for.
Mrs. Spencer: I think the confusion comes in, this contract actually allows for some payment to be made for materials that are delivered. It’s not necessarily going to be an exact match but basically this report which was prepared and submitted along with tonight’s bill list for this says that 44% of the overall construction over the project has been completed.
President Rattner: And what percentage of dollars? It should say on there the amount of dollars that have been paid because I remember a couple of months ago I believe the business administrator was having a problem paying for the material.
Mrs. Spencer: We went back and checked the contract and found that the contract allows for the delivery. I did not do these calculations to see the percentage because the amount being asked to be paid is the equivalent to the 44% completion, however there is a retainage.
Mr. Bonte: The numbers that I just heard is that we spent approximately 56% of dollar value of this project and it’s 44% complete. That’s the numbers that I just heard. I think that is something we need to keep a close handle on. It starts to raise a flag. The other question I have is it appears from the numbers that we heard tonight that the construction manager has been paid 66% of his fixed price contract but only 44% of the project is complete. Why is the construction manager being paid that far in advance of completion? I’m just asking these questions to raise some flags among people that these are things that we’d better start watching. When these kinds of
Mr. Bonte (cont’d): things happen at the mid point of the project, it could set you up for something. It could be a big surprise at the end.
President Rattner: Mr. Bonte, I’m just going to go from memory. If I remember, what happened at the time, I believe former Councilman Scapicchio was involved because we were very concerned about some of the costs in the contract and he wanted, he said that for the project manager, because he could see the project and it gets delayed six months and if it is just strictly a monthly fee, that it you could have a change order while he’s still here and you certainly have to keep paying him. Finally, what was negotiated and you heard the president state that it became a lump sum contract. It set up a certain amount per month with an absolute top dollar and then they have to complete the work but it was a certain dollar amount per month. I believe it was $8,000 a month.
Mrs. Israel: Well, that’s just how we pay it.
President Rattner: I believe that was the contract. It had a certain amount per month.
Mrs. Israel: Is it in the contract? I’m not so sure $8,000 a month is in the contract. It’s just how we…
President Rattner: If you want to interrupt, I was trying to explain how we did the contract because it was in negotiations with us because we were very concerned about some of the contracts and had experience having problems. You were paying a certain value on a certain amount per month. We said we’ll go along with that but we wanted an absolute end so if the project went an extra three months, the professional knew he couldn’t come back and say he needed three more monthly payments. It was “x” amount of dollars. If I can’t get the project delivered on time, it’s going to be at my expense and that is I believe the way it finally got negotiated. We kept a monthly amount but we put an absolute top and he agreed to a lump sum payment on that.
Mr. Bonte: I like lump sum contracts, Steve. I think that is a wonderful idea but I don’t believe that we should be paying to the point of where it sounds like it’s possible that he could be paid before the project is complete.
President Rattner: That is going to happen.
Mr. Bonte: It’s gong to be difficult to get him to perform in the interest of the town if he’s got four more months to put on this thing and there’s no money coming in. My question is, should we be doing something about the fact that he’s already been paid 66% of the contract and only 44% of the library has been completed. I think we need to make a revision in how you are paying him.
President Rattner: You can’t unilaterally change the terms of the contract unless he agrees to it.
Mr. Bonte: Well maybe we need to sit down with him and discuss it with him because it sounds like he is getting paid ahead of performance. I don’t want to see us get into the situation we’ve gotten in before with this building, the sewer project, etc. The time is when you are at midpoint in the contract not somewhere around 97%. Thank you.
Mrs. Labow: Mr. Dorsey, if Mr. Ayers should be paid in entirety before the project is finished and he just walks away, what is our recourse.
Mr. Dorsey: In the first place, that contract was entered into between the Library Board and the construction manager. I believe that I was present when he made the representation that he would stay with the project to the end regardless of when he was paid, but this is an issue. It certainly is a genuine issue if, indeed, he has been paid 66 and there’s 44% completed, then I think it is time now, perhaps, for the Library Board to take it up with their construction manager as to what is going to happen because it would appear that if they keep paying him at the rate they’ve been paying him, $8,000 a month, he will be totally paid before the contract is over. I would leave that to the Library Board.
Mrs. Labow: There is no money set aside till the job is complete, like a percentage?
Mr. Dorsey: That is what they can do.
Mrs. Labow: But they didn’t do it upfront, Jane? No amount held back.
Mrs. Israel: No because he’s not doing the work, he’s not constructing the building. We always have a retainage and keep money back on contractors. This is more of a professional contract with him.
Mr. Greenbaum: Jane, there is a terrible flaw in argument.
Mrs. Israel: I’m not a lawyer.
Mr. Greenbaum: Once he’s paid, it’s not even a legal issue, it’s the issue that Mr. Bonte raised. Once he is paid fully, his interest in staying around and making sure all of the I’s and the T’s are crossed and if it is going to take him an extra three or four months to finish the project as it should be finished, that incentive is gone. I’m not saying specifically with regard to this particular construction manager but I could envision a situation where someone is going to want to get off that job as quickly as possible to the detriment of Mount Olive Township. So distinguish between the construction company who is actually building the building and your construction manager in that respect is what the flawed argument is. Colleen, with respect to your question, although I have not reviewed the contract, to the extent that the contract call for him to remain on through the conclusion of the project and if he were to walk off prior, he would be in breach of contract. Damages could range in a number of different areas, one of which might be, the cost to the township of bringing in a new construction manager to actually finish the job. But who the heck wants to go down that road? None of us do because it is a lose situation. We pay legal fees, we don’t get them back. I would have to agree with Mr. Bonte wholeheartedly here that I don’t want to be in an upside down situation in terms of the construction manager’s contract or the construction contract itself. It should be paced along with the work that is being completed. I think that is fair and I don’t think that the construction manager should have a problem with that. We’re 44% complete, he should be 44% paid and we are not looking to hold back any of his money. We are just looking to get the job that we’ve contracted for.
Mrs. Israel: Well his next check will be in March and if the construction is completed in July, there should be no problem with that. I think that the Library Board has been dealing with construction services and we are very happy with his services and don’t forget that the architect is ultimately the one that has to see the building through till the end so there are a lot of things that come to play and I think that we have a good thing going here. I’ll bring your concerns to the Board.
1. Approval of Raffle Application #2022 for the Roxbury Girls Basketball Boosters; Raffle Application #2023 for the Budd Lake Volunteer Fire Co. #1; Raffle Application #2024 for St. Mark the Evangelist Parish.
Mr. Greenbaum moved for approval of the Raffle Applications and Mr. Perkins seconded the motion.
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
2. Approval of the renewal of a Peddler’s Permit for Martin Osborne for Ice Cream Vending.
Mr. Buell moved for approval of the Peddler’s Permit and Mr. Guenther seconded the motion.
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
Mr. Elms moved for approval of the Bill List and Mr. Guenther seconded the motion.
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously
Mr. Buell: On February 12th I sent a letter to Mayor De La Roche asking him for an explanation of Mrs. Cindy Spencer’s pay for time off during her vacation. I received a letter back from him on February 20th saying that he had converted six of her sick days to personal days and that this was in policy. I know, and my second question, I really have two questions here. I know Mrs. Spencer, Mr. Ruggierio is starting to work in the township as business administrator on March 3rd, I want to know about the terms of the sick time and the conversion to personal time. Is this on a yearly basis or a calendar basis or is this on an anniversary basis that this is a yearly conversion? Is this conversion on a yearly basis, calendar basis or an anniversary basis?
Mrs. Spencer: It has historically been done on a calendar basis.
Mr. Buell: On a calendar basis, so therefore considering, assuming, before I ask my second question in terms of your particular employment status, so we are now converting six sick days to…
Mrs. Spencer: Five.
Mr. Buell: Five sick days to personal days and yet there is a possibility that you will only be employed for two months or one-sixth of the year. Is that correct? Is that the policy of the town?
Mrs. Spencer: The policy is not explicit. It just spells out that an employee is allowed to use up to six days of their accumulated sick leave for personal time.
Mr. Buell: So in other words, any employee resigning, retiring or otherwise would be able to convert the same number of sick days just before their employment, let’s say they resign on January 15th in the calendar year. That is the policy of the town?
Mrs. Spencer: They would have to have prior approval by their supervisor in accordance with the policy.
Mr. Buell: Has this ever happened before?
Mrs. Spencer: I know that there have been other employees who have resigned who have taken personal days, not necessarily five, but that have taken time off between the date of their resignation and their actual termination.
Mr. Buell: This early in the calendar year…
Mrs. Spencer: It’s based on whether or not you have the accumulated time available.
Mr. Buell: But has this ever happened before?
Mrs. Spencer: I’ve only been here for two years. I do not know the answer.
Mr. Buell: Mayor, have you ever signed such a request or approved such a request before?
Mayor De La Roche: I’m here two months but I can answer the question if you’d like. This is accumulated sick leave. This is time that has been accumulated over the period of time that Mrs. Spencer has been employed and since she got the proper approvals from the prior administration to carry it over, she utilized it to the best of her ability and there is nothing in the contract that prevents her from doing it as I understand it. So she got the approvals, she had the time and she utilized it just as any other employee could have done.
Mr. Buell: Do you realize the budget implications of this?
Mayor De La Roche: No, the sick leave was accumulated over the years. It wasn’t just accumulated at the beginning of this year. It’s accumulated from last year so she used it for that purpose. Mrs. Spencer accumulated the time and, you know, didn’t utilize it because, I’m assuming, the pressures of the job and the fact that she’s rarely out. I guess, I didn’t set up the policy. I didn’t set up the manual or the contract but it was set up and she understood it and she utilized it just as any other employee would have done. She accumulated the time by not taking undue sick leave and apparently it permits her to convert it and she did that and she got the approvals and everything was done according to the contract and she utilized it rather than lose it when she leaves.
Mr. Buell: I would like to do an investigation into whether this has ever happened before. This is the strangest set of personnel policies that I’ve ever encountered in my entire existence.
President Rattner: I guess this comes up, what kind of investigation do you do?
Mr. Buell: Has this ever been done before? When an employee is about ready, we know she’s about ready to leave our employment…
President Rattner: I saw some of the memos going back and forth and it said something a little different and I’m concerned what it really meant. All employees are allowed to carry over sick days. They are not allowed to carry days over for use as personal days. At least that was my impression. If, in fact, carryover sick days were used and then converted into personal days, I think that would be, at least in my mind, I’ve never heard of it happening before and we’d have to look into it, that almost all of our employees are now entitled to another additional week of vacation because most employees have sick days that they are carrying forward. They do accumulate. If you can use that, that means everybody has an additional week of vacation available to them. That, it you figure we have 150-160 employees, if we say $40,000 is the mean or the average salary, we’re talking about a cost in the vicinity of about $125,000 to pay for that and I don’t think that has ever really happened before as far as I know. I don’t believe the policy has been that you can carry anything over that is related to personal days. I know personal days cannot be carried over and any days not used cannot be used for personal days because I know that is stated. I’m really not sure. I’m not sure where we go if you are talking about an investigation because this is more trying to figure out what the policy is.
Mr. Perkins: I have a question on the contracts, Mr. Mayor, the agreement. Which specific agreement are you talking about, the MOTPEA contract agreement?
Mayor De La Roche: Yes.
Mr. Perkins: I needed that answer. This is the unique work of working for the government since you get to work and derive the benefits of the MOTPEA contract without the burdensome cost of having union dues taken out of your pay salary every two weeks. You are allowed to take some of these perks. I personally don’t agree with it. Personally, I think once you are in a supervisory or management position, if you are sick, you are sick and the taxpayers of Mount Olive understand that. Some times during the year you are going to be sick but I don’t think anybody out there who works in the private sector can possibly fathom that if you are not sick, there were six sick days that were set up and you are just going to carry that over and take the money for it at the expense of the taxpayers of Mount Olive. So, whether it is proper, I don’t believe it is proper. Did the employee act in the proper position right now based upon the way we had past practice, but do I agree with it? Most definitely I do not.
Mr. Greenbaum: As I understand it, Steve, from your comments, the sick days cannot be used as personal days. So if that is in fact what the policy is…
President Rattner: The current sick days can but I know that you cannot carry over for personal days. That is in the manual.
Mr. Greenbaum: So it was an end around.
President Rattner: That’s what it sounds like. That’s why I don’t know if we ever had, I can’t say it’s never happened. I think we need to know.
Mr. Greenbaum: I think we need to take a look at the policy before we go any further and figure out exactly what is allowed and what is not allowed and whether or not this violated the policy. But I have a question for the Mayor. Did you actually review the MOTPEA contract or was this explained to you by somebody as to how the policy is ultimately derived.
Mayor De La Roche: Both.
Mr. Greenbaum: And who gave you the advice as to how the policy was derived?
Mayor De La Roche: I’m not too sure that I understand your question.
Mr. Greenbaum: You said that you spoke to somebody about this particular policy. Who did you speak to?
Mayor De La Roche: I went over it with the business administrator as we were trying to determine whether or not it violated the contract.
Mr. Greenbaum: Okay, so you spoke to Cindy who told you that this is how the policy is applied?
Mayor De La Roche: No, I read the contract and as you know, I’m an attorney as you are, and I agreed with the interpretations of the contract. I don’t necessarily agree with the policy but I did not establish the policy. The prior administration established the policy if not the immediate prior administration, some administration prior to it. I did not draft the contract. I just interpreted it and I sat with the employee and we went over it and discussed it in detail. I saw no basis to deny it so I granted it.
Mr. Greenbaum: I can appreciate that and in no way was I insinuating that you drafted the policy. I just wanted to find out how you came to your interpretation of the policy and now I understand. You actually reviewed it and discussed it and you agreed with the interpretation that you were given. I don’t know the policy. I can’t tell you as I sit here whether or not I agree with your interpretation but I am now going to go back and take a look at the policy and determine whether or not I believe your interpretation is the same as my interpretation. That’s all I was getting at.
Mayor De La Roche: Okay. That makes absolute sense to me and I agree with that. I have no problem with that. It’s a matter that the policy was established by someone long before I got here and all I did was review it and discuss it and make a decision based on it. There are a number of policies I don’t agree with but I didn’t establish them.
Mr. Guenther: Didn’t we, if memory serves me correctly, it was last year or the year before when several long standing employees of the township retired, it was an issue to where they left in a certain month and we had to pay them for four or five months because of accumulated sick leave and personal days. I don’t know if that is exactly the same issue here. We’re talking here about the conversion, right, from sick to personal? That’s your issue, right Jim? We tried to address that supposedly in the future going forward – the employee would be obligated and I don’t remember what was decided but certainly not let it accumulate for 4, 5, 6, 7 years so they could have either that large payout, well it is. It winds up being a payout.
Mayor De La Roche: I agree with you. I have no problem with that. I understand that but that is the policy.
President Rattner: I’m having the Clerk make sure that she makes us a copy of the personnel practices, a copy to everybody on the Council.
Mrs. Labow: In the memo that was answered from Mr. Buell by the Mayor, he stated, he quoted in there, employees may use up to six days per year of their accumulated sick leave as personal days proved the immediate supervisor has approved the request and notice of intention to utilize sick leave as personal days is given to the supervisor at least two days before such leave is taken. The thing that I’m really confused on is it talks about accumulated sick leave per year. It doesn’t say that carryover sick leave can be converted.
President Rattner: I think right now we can’t do justice without really having it in front of us, spending the time and looking at it. We all read things and we find things and say, how the heck did that get in there? That’s why I asked the Clerk to get everybody a copy. Everybody should have a copy.
Mrs. Labow: I just want to ask one really quick question.
President Rattner: Is it in relation to this?
Mrs. Labow: Yes. If, in fact, it is okay for someone to take carryover sick leave and convert it to personal time, then every single employee with any carryover sick leave can…the carryover sick leave now, it can only be used as sick leave, correct? Or we don’t know?
President Rattner: We don’t know. That is what the issue is. If anybody can carryover their sick leave that they didn’t use last year, they can take an extra week of vacation this year.
Mrs. Spencer: There is a stipulation in the contract that says you can only convert six of your sick days per year to personal days so no matter what, if it is carry forward sick leave accumulation or it’s current sick leave accumulation, it is still a maximum of six days per year that can be used.
President Rattner: So that’s what I’m saying. Everybody could be entitled to, if they don’t get sick much more than a couple or a few days, they are entitled to an extra week’s vacation.
Mrs. Spencer: That’s how the contract and the employee manual read.
Mr. Buell: If an employee resigns, do they get paid their used sick time?
Mrs. Spencer: It depends on how many years the employee has been here and if they’ve been here over 10 years, the answer is yes, up to a certain number of days and there is a sick leave payout clause depending on how many years they’ve been here and there is a maximum as to how many days they can be paid out for.
President Rattner: We can’t get anything resolved until we actually look at the personnel practices and just go from there.
Mr. Buell: Second question? Mr. Ruggierio begins, I think, March 3rd, we have a budgeted position for a business administrator and I hate to ask the question, it seems like I’m picking on Cindy tonight. I’m brand new. I’m just wondering, we’ve now got two people possibly in the same budgeted position and no budget dollars to pay for both salaries. Can we do that?
President Rattner: If there is no budgeted position then obviously you can’t. Mayor, obviously there’s been a lot of rumors going around the municipal building because I hear it from a number of employees, what’s going to happen on March 3rd?
Mayor De La Roche: You mean other than Mr. Ruggierio coming on board?
President Rattner: Yes.
Mayor De La Roche: Okay. I believe the contract permits Ms. Spencer a certain amount of …
President Rattner: Mrs. Spencer I don’t believe has a contract. At least we never approved one.
Mayor De La Roche: Well whether it is written or not, the policy….
President Rattner: Why don’t you start all over. What are your plans?
Mayor De La Roche: The plan is for Mr. Ruggierio to come on to replace the CFO. Not the CFO, the business administrator.
President Rattner: So does that mean that the 2nd is the last day for Mrs. Spencer?
Mayor De La Roche: Unless she is put in another job category it is.
President Rattner: Does that answer your question, Mr. Buell?
Mr. Buell: I suppose so.
Mr. Elms: I believe the administrative code calls for the business administrator, when terminated, to have three months pay after that point.
President Rattner: I think there is a dispute about that. Actually some time ago, I think it may even have been Mr. Steinberg who said that would be if it was before the Mayor’s term is up. There is a real big difference if it’s on December 31st or if it is in a carryover mode later. I don’t know. That may be an open issue but I remember because we’ve had different issues before with the business administrator and when they leave. I believe one the term, because the appointment was for a specific period of time which follows the term of the Mayor, and if it’s anything other than that, which would be December 31, 2003, then that possibly could be true but I’m really not sure. That would have to be researched.
Mr. Elms: I don’t think we have it in front of us.
Mayor De La Roche: Might I suggest that our town attorney take a look at it and give it to us in writing so I know how to handle the matter? Thank you.
Mr. Greenbaum: Notwithstanding everything that was just said, I think we are all in agreement that there is no money in the budget as we currently stand to fund a temporary position or even a severance at this point. I’m not saying that we wouldn’t have to do something about it if the law so requires but it is not in the budget as it is currently situated and it would require five votes to add it back in.
President Rattner: I have a couple of things. One is just an observation. On this bill list, I noticed that we’ve got propane bills totaling about $9,000 to cover two months to heat the one maintenance garage, the public works garage over by the beach. Looking at those kinds of heating bills plus the cost of a trailer and some of the other things, I know you haven’t decided against the public works building but you have changed the direction and that is fine but looking at what it would cost us to actually bond if we did that, $l.6 million which was an estimate for putting a building up, if it is less than that, we are talking about a good percentage of the cost of paying back debt service just in savings I imagine we would get from propane. I just ask that you move as rapidly as you can. Besides you have the other part that we heard from the budget hearing about the safety issue and working is subzero weather, trying to change equipment and the equipment deteriorating. I don’t know if we want to go but at least let’s just get to a point where we can make a decision quickly.
Mayor De La Roche: As I’ve indicated many times, it’s going to take a long time to correct the abuses of the past but I’m working on it. I’ve been out and looking at places where I can cut the budget down for the replacing of the public works garage and I’m hoping that I can cut the price substantially instead of the $1.5 or 6 dollars to get it substantially lower but like everything else, it takes a certain amount of time and I’ve been out and I’ve looked at places and I’ve discussed this thing with some of the employees how we can best save money and we are looking to do some of that in-house too. I would agree. The original budget that was put aside was not established by me, the $1.5 million. I’m trying to cut it down substantially. So that is what we are looking at now. I am working on it but I’m one guy and I have a lot of issues that I’m working on at the same time. But I have addressed it and I am working on it.
President Rattner: I know that and I agree with your approach. I’m just saying that I haven’t seen the bill and it’s not your fault that we have $9,000 worth of propane for two months. It was cold but that’s an awful lot of heat probably just going through the walls and everything else.
Mayor De La Roche: We are basically between a rock and a hard place. We have to worry about OSHA and we have to worry about providing safe working conditions and at the same time building a new garage.
President Rattner: Well the costs may not be that much if we have one savings. I agree with you. I just brought it up because it was on tonight’s bill list. The last thing, it’s a little disturbing. I got a call first from the County and then Mayor Pierson of Mendham and what that was about, the area around because of the potential of the creation of the State Highlands Commission, which they want to model after the Pinelands and the new stormwater regulations and concerns of the area towns around the Raritan Basin, that they’ve been trying to put together a meeting. In fact, they have, to develop a Raritan River Coalition, very similar to the very successful Rockway River, Whippany River, Passaic, Ten Towns around the Great Swamp where once they put those together, they became a political force. There’s a lot of grant money that was available, a lot of State programs that fit right into it and they got a lot of things done. What the Mayor of Mendham talked to me about, he was given my name by someone at the County level, because I’m on the County Planning Board, saying that he’s made a number of calls. His office, Kathy Giser, other people from Morris Tomorrow trying to see if Mount Olive wants to join. All the other area towns have been attending meetings. This Upper Raritan, now it’s the Raritan Compact or something to that effect and they said that you have been unavailable, you haven’t responded to any of the letters and you haven’t responded to over a month’s worth of telephone calls. I just wanted to urge you to follow up on this. This is very important. The Highlands Commission would basically take away a lot of responsibility that the planning board has and it would go to a state commission. If it is anything like the Pinelands, when I was looking at it a year and a half ago, it would be so restrictive that if you wanted to pave your driveway, you would need a DEP permit because we’d be in an area that is environmentally sensitive. Anyway, these are issues that I’ve got from outside. You may be very busy but at least your office staff should return telephone calls. They had meetings some time ago. They have a meeting coming up where they want to see if they have agreement. All they want to know is whether you are inclined to support it and if not, what the issues are since trying to get five or seven towns together to come up with one agreement for support is very difficult and I hope that you would follow up with your office, find out why you have not been getting those messages.
Mayor De La Roche: Okay. Just so it’s clear, I have sat with the Governor’s representative. We spent hours discussing one of these circumstances. I had Mrs. Murphy attend one of the local township meetings. I’m scheduled to go to two of them tomorrow. So for me to call back today or yesterday, didn’t make much sense since I’m going to meet with these people tomorrow and spend about eight or ten hours with them. Even though I have a meeting, it doesn’t mean everyone in the world is aware of it. I’ve sat with the business administrator, maybe not the business administrator, Mrs. Murphy and the Governor’s representative regarding these situations. So it’s untrue to say that I’ve not responded to it.
President Rattner: I know, we get that, and it’s mine and I don’t remember it. This is something else. Mayor Pierson has been around a very long time but it’s been over a month. They were frustrated. That’s why they reached out to me. I assume him that an elected official will be attending all of their future meetings, whether it is your, your representative or somebody from this Council but what is going on in the Highlands is very important. We are not talking from the State down. That is one of the things that we are concerned about. We want to make sure that our local issues are also addressed. We have been very supportive of the State Plan. That is how we won some of our recent law suits. We are very supportive of the Highlands because it is going to protect our water. At the same time, we don’t want to give up all of our rights. This is what this is about. The Mayor said that he personally called you a number of times and he is waiting for his first call back. I just ask you to do that.
Mayor De La Roche: I’ll indicate to you again that I’ve attended a number of meetings regarding this. I attended one last week. I attend another one two weeks or three weeks ago and the first time the Mayor reached, he called me at my home yesterday. I didn’t return the call today because I was busy with other matters and as I indicated I’m having two meetings tomorrow regarding this situation. So, if I understand, that’s not neglecting it, that’s quite an amount of time being spent on it. I may not inform the Council that I’m having meetings with the Governor’s representatives or other Mayors or the League of Municipalities which also discussed the situation. I had a meeting with the Mayors and Mr. Frelinghuysen regarding this matter. So to give the impression that I’m neglecting it, is I think uncalled for and unnecessary and I just indicated to you at least four or five times and you can verify it if you choose to. I don’t know why you would want to but I don’t necessarily report everything I do because it is very time consuming but it has been attended to and will continue to be attended to and no one is more in favor of protecting the Highlands than I am and it is being looked at by myself as well as my staff.
President Rattner: I’ll take that at face value and just assume that Chester Borough, Chester Township, Mendham, Mendham Township, Mt. Arlington, Randolph, Washington Township and Roxbury, they’ve all been there and have been communicating and for some reason Mayor Pierson was not telling me the truth about how many times he has contacted town hall trying to get some sort of cooperation or concurrence on this and we’ve just got to move forward but I would recommend that you check with your office because I’m sure they have records of people calling. It’s now called because at their last meeting, a couple of weeks ago, they came up with their official name as the Raritan Highlands Compact. The idea is to have a regional cooperative that will deal with the State, be in line for priority for all funding because it shows that there is interlocal cooperation, not individual towns going out as free agents. We can talk this to death. I’m just saying let’s go and make sure that we’re part of it. I know from the Council’s standpoint, I’m going to make sure that we are part of it.
Mayor De La Roche: And as the Mayor, I’m going to make sure we are and have been. I went to a meeting of the League of Municipalities where all of the Mayors in the County sat and discussed this. I told you I’ve discussed this with the Governor’s representative and we’ve gone to meetings. I’ve had staff members go to the meetings of the local Mayors also. As I indicated, it has been addressed and it continues to be addressed.
Mrs. Labow: I just want to say that I also spoke with Mayor Pierson at a League of Women’s Voters function in Mendham and he had come up to me and he said that he’d been trying to reach you several times – this is back in November and he asked me to give you the number which I did pass on to you then.
Mayor De La Roche: If he was trying to reach me in November, I was not elected.
Mrs. Labow: He understood that you were not elected.
Mayor De La Roche: I was not sworn in until January 1st as you well know because you were sworn in with me.
Mrs. Labow: That’s right. He understood that you were not elected but he wanted to be proactive and bring you on board as soon as possible.
Mayor De La Roche: When I tried to be proactive, the Council sent me a letter saying that I was not an elected official and I had nothing to say at the time. You might recall. I have a copy of the letter if you’d like it. I think you’ve seen it already.
President Rattner: Okay. Let’s just move on. Any other administrative matters? If not, any old business? Okay, I have two things of old business, real briefly. Donald Scarinci’s office called me back yesterday. He would like to come up and he is available Tuesday in the later afternoon. I will give everybody that time. I’m going to arrange, I’ll talk to everyone individually, I’ll come up with a schedule and see when we can get the different people and make sure that we don’t violate any laws so we can see this person. It’s this coming Tuesday.
Mr. Greenbaum: I have a request. I’d like to get a list of the towns, the municipalities and the counties that Scarinci & Hollenback has represented over the last five years in preparation for the meeting and I would ask that the Clerk make that request to the administration.
Mayor De La Roche: I think that you’ll find that it is in his resume’. He lists them all. As a matter of fact, he’s given two copies of the resume’. I think a third copy actually to all of the Council members. He’s even Fed Ex’d it to you. I handed it to you and it was provided on an earlier occasion. There’s so many of them but at least 40 or 50 towns are listed there for you to check on while Mr. Rattner is getting the other 20 or 30 together.
President Rattner: I’m not getting it. The Clerk would. Just for clarification, there wasn’t a single council member who got anything other than before the meeting recently where about 11 o’clock at night you passed it out and asked us to take action. We then did get a Fed Ex package either last Tuesday or the Tuesday before. It was right after the holiday, last Tuesday. That is when we got it. As I’ve already said, the Clerk’s office had talked to their office earlier in the week. I talked directly with them at the end of the week.
Mayor De La Roche: I’m sure the public will recall, I handed it out after I nominated them. I gave a copy of the resumes’ to every council member plus the Fed Ex, right?
President Rattner: That is exactly what I said. At that meeting, most of the public wasn’t here. It was 10:30-11:00 o’clock at night. Any way, we want to move ahead. The other thing I’m planning on putting on the Agenda for next Tuesday night if nobody has any problems, is what we have to do to set up a Recreation Trust Fund. We have someone who wants to keep operating the recreation department in the matter it’s been run more or less but do it so that it meets all State statutes and codes and has the proper controls for the money. Gary Higgins has given me just a brief overview. I’d like him to come and he will tell us if we want to do it, exactly the steps how we get it into the budget. So as far as the recreation department knows, and they are worried, that it’s seamless to them because they shouldn’t have to worry about the accounting and the budgetary aspects as long as we say that we want to go ahead and I think we all do with the recreation programs in total. So if nobody has a problem, I’ll see if he’s available for next Tuesday. I haven’t talked to him about that yet. It is a workshop and we want to get it into the budget. Anything else on old business?
Mrs. Labow: I just want to say for Tuesday for the interviews, I’m not available until later in the day so if you are setting up appointments, if you can consider me for late afternoon.
President Rattner: I’ll talk to each one of you individually tomorrow, find out what times exactly you are available and then talk to them so he knows what he’s up against.
Mrs. Labow: And there is one other thing regarding old business and I don’t really want to, I hate to beat this up any more and I’m going to borrow Mr. Greenbaum’s phrase, I want to say that I’m deeply troubled when I hear someone discount a prospective employee due to something that is happening in a town that they currently work for and I think it would be nice to take into consideration that perhaps that person is there to help straighten out a problem they had. The other thing too is I don’t know anything about Hudson County other than what I’ve heard and I’ve heard from many many people saying that Hudson County is one of the most corrupt counties in New Jersey and I would just like to say to Mayor De La Roche that no one said, oh let’s not vote for him for Mayor because he might be corrupt because he worked in Hudson County all those years.
Mayor De La Roche: Let me respond to that. He also represents the General Counsel, the Assembly of the State of New Jersey.
President Rattner: Come on Mayor. There is no sense. We’re not going to go back to battering back and forth.
Mayor De La Roche: If I’m going to be attacked.
President Rattner: You are not being attacked. She’s just saying that anybody should not be considered. No, you’re out of order.
Mayor De La Roche: I think I have a right to respond. I think she just slurred the entire County of Hudson if I’m not mistaken. I think she is also.
President Rattner: I didn’t say she. She was duly recognized by the Chair and she made a statement.
Mayor De La Roche: Okay.
Mr. Elms: First of all the package of Scarinci & Hollenback that was given to us on the 10th of February included two pages of public clients.
President Rattner: Mr. Greenbaum asked a different question. Those are current clients. He’s asking for former ones.
Mr. Greenbaum: I don’t know that it’s an all inclusive list. I’d just like to have the list so that I can do my due diligence. That’s all.
Mr. Elms: And before we enter into this recreation utility, if we are going to discuss it next Tuesday, I for one, would appreciate having all the background and whatever you are planning on passing for that kind of a utility, that we have it in plenty of time before the meeting.
President Rattner: We’re not taking any action. It’s a discussion on how it is done. We’ll get as much as we can ahead of time. I’ll see if he can get something by Friday.
Mr. Elm: We will have the information before the meeting to be able to review it.
President Rattner: I’ll talk to the auditor. I haven’t told him about setting it up. I just want to do it because we want to go as fast as possible so as not to interrupt anything else with the budget. The budget, we’re probably going to be working probably through the month of March. If this is a structural change, we’ll want to get it in early so that we know how the rest of it fits in because there are going to be some changes, some additional information that is probably going to have to be done, because we have to make an application to DCA to get that in properly.
Mr. Buell: With reference to the interviews with Scarinci & Hollenbach, I would also like to ask if they would have the person or person who they are proposing who would actually represent us here at the Council be included in the interview.
President Rattner: The Mayor was very specific. He wants Donald Scarinci.
Mr. Buell: I don’t think Donald Scarinci is going to sit up here if that is what he is proposing.
President Rattner: That is for the interview process. Let’s not guess or anything else now. It was his office. They said that he would be coming so we might as well get it right from the person. That is what the purpose of an interview is, to find out. Any other old business.
Mrs. Labow: I’m sorry. I just have to ask a question for clarification on old business. For the DPW garage for that project, we talked about the bid specs and the Mayor had mentioned that he’s going around looking and trying to cut the costs. We don’t know what the cost of it is going to be because we don’t have it spec’d out?
President Rattner: Right now that is administrative. Give the Mayor some time to put something together. He decided a couple of weeks ago not to go with the contract that we had. That’s fine and now he is going around looking. The best thing is to do is to go and see other buildings. That’s what I did. Get ideas of what you want and go from there.
Mrs. Labow: And then you go and get the price.
Mayor De La Roche: I want to respond to Mrs. Labow’s, I think, scurrilous remarks regarding Hudson County. Just because…I worked there for 30 years. I’ve never been indicted. I grew up there as someone who was born and raised in Hudson County even though I’ve lived here for over 30 years, I feel it is outrageous to slur an entire county. The reason that there might be indictments is because the law enforcement down there watches it very closely. I don’t know that it doesn’t exist in every county including Morris. We all know that so I think it is outrageous to slur a whole county.
President Rattner: Mayor, that’s fine but you said the same thing about the 40,000 people who live in Guttenberg. I know it’s only 2/10th of a mile or something but it’s there and you wouldn’t consider anybody from there.
Mayor De La Roche: I didn’t slur them. I indicated that there were indictments. That’s all I said and that is part of Hudson County.
President Rattner: There are indictments all over the place. Anyway, if we are going to talk indictments, we’ll talk about indictments in another week. Any other new business?
Mr. Elms: According to the Superior Court, the Court ordered that this Council be joined as a defendant in the suit involving the Mayor and Mr. Dorsey. Do we intend to talk about that or are we just going to forget about it?
President Rattner: We’ll talk about it during the workshop because I don’t know whether we want to talk about it in closed session or open session and with the new dynamics, it’s going to be awful interesting if you are talking about going to Court with opposing sides as the same defendant. That is strange. An interesting situation. We’ll put it on the Agenda for Tuesday. I don’t know how we are going to discuss it. It’s going to be an interesting discussion. We thought we’ve had some pretty good ones up to now. Any other new business?
Mr. Buell: I just wanted to, has anyone from the Council read the feedback from my walkaround Connolley Avenue? And I just wanted to know if you are interested in me giving the feedback because I’m going to do more of this.
Mr. Greenbaum: The more information that is available, the better. I applaud your efforts in terms of walking and I’ve found it to be very interesting information and certainly might identify issues that are both pertinent to both the administration and Council. I, for one, am in favor of continuing to receive those results.
Mayor De La Roche: I would agree with that.
Mr. Buell: Just one other comment. Mr. Scapicchio, please, the next time you hand out fliers announcing a Council meeting, make sure you get to both sides of Connolley Avenue next time.
David Scapicchio (from the audience): That proves that I didn’t hand out any fliers, Jim, because I hit every door.
Mr. Buell: Whoever handed them out because one of the residents very strongly complained that they didn’t receive those…
President Rattner: It was in your memo so people who know that, read it.
Library Board Liaison Report
Mrs. Labow: I hope that everyone is aware that they do have their book discussion group and I just wanted to make an announcement on the book, the month, the reading for April is Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem and the discussion will be on Monday, April 12th at 7:30 pm. I’d like to urge everyone to get the book and read it. That’s it. Jane covered everything else.
Recreation Liaison Report
Mr. Elms: The next meeting is March 3rd.
Board of Health Report
Mr. Guenther: There is no meeting until April.
Planning Board Report
Mr. Greenbaum: We met and there was discussion about the Master Plan, our efforts with regard to the Master Plan. I would ask that the Planning Board be advised as soon as possible as to when we are going to take up any issues related to the Master Plan so that they can attend if they so desire. There was a preliminary review of the High School, a complimentary, it’s not a formal review of the High School proposal, courtesy review of the planned expansion subject to the referendum. Also the Baptist Church next door came to us. They are looking to expand, basically double the size of their building to add a community room and that was also a courtesy review.
President Rattner: They don’t want their property back, do they?
Mr. Greenbaum: And then we took up the business of the development matter regarding the Blue Atlas Nursery which is still ongoing. It’s about a 21 or 22 lot subdivision, no variances, sought permitted use. It’s a question of how the property is going to be basically preserved as best as we can in terms of trees and wetlands and the like.
Board of Adjustment Liaison Report
Mr. Perkins: Routine business, Mr. President.
Open Space Committee Report
Legislative Committee Report
Mr. Elms: Nothing on either one.
Pride Committee Liaison Report
Mrs. Labow: The Pride Committee met last Tuesday and they have Earth Day which is April 18th and we’ve been having some discussion on the trails over at Turkey Brook. The blue, green and yellow trails. They’d like to have Earth Day Celebration at Turkey Brook and invite the public and the girl scouts and boy scouts, high school groups, perhaps the group at the Middle School, to have everybody participate in clearing the trails. We are looking into having a big celebration that day possibly.
Board of Education Liaison Report
President Rattner: I believe that Mr. Buell and myself probably have perfect attendance so far.
Mr. Buell: Yes, we do.
President Rattner: That wasn’t the way it was necessarily going to work. It was going to be going back and forth. Do you want to say anything about the Board of Ed?
Mr. Buell: As you all know, they received not $10 million but $14.6 million from the State for the renovation and construction of the high school representing approximately 31% of the total cost of the renovations. At the current time, of the $8.6 billion left for school construction and actually the $2.6 billion for suburban aid there is only $800 million left for aid for construction. If this referendum does not pass, there is a good likelihood that that $14.6 million will not be available the next time it comes back. I urge everyone to get out and vote on March 3rd.
Mrs. Lashway: March 9th.
Mr. Buell: March 9th. The polls are open from 7 am to 9 pm.
President Rattner: Don’t send them there on the 3rd, they probably won’t come back.
Lake/Environment Issues Committee
Mr. Rattner: We had the Lake Committee here at the last workshop with a proposed ordinance. They’ll be working on that and we’ll get something together to have a proposal in front of the Council in the next month.
Safety Committee Liaison
Mr. Guenther: There has not been a meeting.
President Rattner: They meet quarterly.
Richard Bonte, Budd Lake: It has been seven weeks since the new administration has taken over, 16 weeks since the election and 35 weeks since the Mayor knew he was going to be running for office. I’m deeply troubled by the fact that most of our key employees, Sorry Rob, most of our department heads are still kind of in limbo. I’m sure all of the department heads understand the system. I understand the system and I’m sure that the Mayor understands the system. Basically department heads are your right hand man and the Mayor has the right to appoint those people. It is my belief, and certainly I would have hoped that it would have been the Mayor’s belief that once you decide that you are going to run for office, you pretty much start mentally putting together what your team is going to be and you ask people who, if you should win, might want to support you in an effort to do better for the town because obviously one runs for office because he feels that he can do better and maybe there are some department heads who one feels are doing an exemplary job and could be just as loyal to him as they were to the previous Mayor and one would want to keep and I am sure that there are some who one would feel cannot do the job as well as somebody else I have in mind. The point is that certainly long before the election, one should have a pretty good idea of what one is going to do should one win this management position. Of course when one does win, one should work in earnest to establish who is going to work for him over the next four years. But fortunately you don’t get the liberty of being allowed to try people that you may want to bring on board but don’t know if they are going to work out and maintain some of the other people until you make that decision. D Day came on January 1st. I think it is greatly unfair to those employees that are in a position right now to be carried as carryovers. I don’t think it serves the town well and I don’t think it serves the employees well. I think the Mayor need to make some decisions. He’s to assemble his team or if he can’t assemble his team, then he needs to confirm the people that have been doing the job for the township and put them in a status where they know what their responsibilities are and that they are here and have the full support of the Mayor. I, too, Mr. President share your shame concern with what I have heard over the last few weeks of these are your employees. They are all our employees. They are township employees. They are not Council employees. In fact, they were appointed by the previous administration so if anything, they are the administration employees. If you don’t like them, remove them. You have the authority to do that and put names before this Council of people that are qualified that you want to appoint but I don’t think we can continue to keep operating in the fashion that we are operating, blaming it on the Council that these are not my people and I haven’t been afforded the time to find appropriate people. In my estimation, you’ve had 35 weeks to find the appropriate people. This should have been in your mind before you decided to run for office. You’ve certainly had 15 weeks since you won the election. I think we need to get at the job at hand. We’ve got…what’s the Budget Steve? $15 million - $20 million?
President Rattner: $20 million.
Mr. Bonte: You have a $20 million corporation here to run. We can’t run it with part time people. We can’t run it with people who come in for four hours a week. I don’t know how that person is going to evaluate in those four hours a week when he’s busy signing checks, overlooking the budget and everything else and that person is working in the tax collection department during those four hours. Let’s get down to the task at hand. Find the appropriate people or determine that the people that we have on board are appropriate and stop playing this charade. We need to move the town forward in the best method possible. You have the authority to make these appointments or to release the current employees and find new ones. But let’s do something. Thank you.
Mayor De La Roche: May I respond?
President Rattner: No. Is there anyone else who would like to address the Council. Seeing none, we’ll close the public portion and go for final council comments. Mr. Buell?
Mayor De La Roche: You’ll notice there is no part for Mayor’s comments.
Mr. Buell: None tonight.
Mrs. Labow: None.
Mr. Elms: None.
Mr. Guenther: None.
Mr. Perkins: None.
Mr. Greenbaum: I do have comment this evening. One of the first things that I learned after being elected to the town council is that you can’t win an argument with an individual who has a planned agenda and won’t listen. Despite the fact that I know better, I find that Charlie Uhrmann’s letters are so inflammatory and factually inaccurate that I can’t but respond. Recently Charlie sent an email to Bernie Guenther which has been forwarded on to me which in part deals with my role, or her perceived, what she perceived my role to be with regard to the Rocco’s. When she first came to Council we tried to help her. She was having a problem with the administration. She was not satisfied with the help the Council was able to give her and it has since turned into this indictment of Council. Included in the memo she alleges that there was a major cover up and that several of the Council members, including myself, were involved in this cover up regarding the Rocco’s and the indictments specifically about me is that during the timeframe that this issue was before Council, one of the neighbors observed Greenbaum playing basketball with Rocco. Oh, how nice, she says. Later that week, Rocco stated, we’ll get nowhere with this, referring to this investigation and her efforts to uncover it. I can tell you as I sit here. I do not know Mr. Rocco. I do not know any of the children of Mr. Rocco and if I’ve ever played basketball with them it’s as part of the Mount Olive Recreation league and I couldn’t identify any of the Rocco’s if I tripped over them. More incredulous is the fact that Charlie identifies in this email that there never was a video tape of the Rocco’s removing tanks. She did it as a scheme. Specifically, she states, so the next meeting after it was obvious – you, Greenbaum and Licitra were part of this. I called your bluff. I knew you were forewarning the Rocco’s so I said I had a tape. Later on she says, have you figured it out yet? There was no tape. She lied to us. As part of a scheme to uncover this grand conspiracy to hid something which I still have no idea what it was that we were hiding and I’ve always taken the position that if someone did something wrong, they should be prosecuted for it and I still believe that. Notwithstanding that, I have some comments. Charlie Uhrmann has never done anything in this town but criticize actions taken. To my knowledge, she has never served on any board, volunteered for any committee or done anything constructive for the community. Rather feebly, she attempts to portray herself as the conscience of the community. No one should be fooled by her letters. I suspect that Charlie Uhrmann writes on behalf of Mayor De La Roche and Councilman Elms who would rather have her name at the bottom of her attack letters rather than their own. I know for a fact that after writing a memorandum which was critical of the Mayor and Bob Elms, that memorandum was passed along by Bob Elms to Charlie Uhrmann for response. When Charlie steps up to the plate and does something positive for the township, her message will deserve more credence. Until then, her grandstanding in the press should simply be dismissed and seen for what it truly is, political rhetoric.
President Rattner: Are you done? And I have no comments. Can I get a motion to go into executive session?
Mr. Perkins made a motion to go into Executive Session at 9:50 pm. All in favor, none opposed.
Executive Session – Toll Brothers Negotiations
Motion to go into Open Session at 11:02 pm made and seconded. All in favor, none opposed, the Meeting was opened to the Public and adjourned at 11:03 pm.
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 April 13, 2004.
Lisa M. Lashway, Township Clerk