Township Council Minutes
May 16, 2006
Township Special Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township Council was called to Order at 7:30 pm by Council President Greenbaum with the Pledge of Allegiance.
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 ACT 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.
Present: Mr. Buell, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Rattner, Mr. Greenbaum, Mrs. Labow, Mr. Tepper (7:32),
Absent: Mr. Biondi
Also Present: Rick Prill, Business Administrator; John Dorsey, Township Attorney; Lisa Lashway, Township
RESOLUTIONS NON CONSENT
President Greenbaum: We have one matter on for a special hearing this evening. It is a resolution on the Non Consent Resolutions Agenda which is:
1. Resolution Re: Certification of Tax Levy (School District Budget).
President Greenbaum: Mr. Perkins, could you please move that.
Mr. Perkins: Yes, Mr. President. I move for passage of Non Consent Resolution #1.
Mr. Buell: Second.
PUBLIC PORTION ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
President Greenbaum: Moved and seconded. Is there anyone from the public who wishes to be heard on this Non Consent Resolution? Seeing none, I close to the public.
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
President Greenbaum: Is there any Council discussion. Let me start. I prepared a press release which basically outlines the committee’s, the subcommittee’s position with regard to the process and the ultimate conclusions of the subcommittee. I am going to read it into the record.
As mandated by law, the governing body of the municipality is required to determine the tax levy subsequent to a failed school budget. That review and determination is required to be completed less than 30 days after the school budget defeat.
At the outset, it should be noted that Council’s role in the review process is not to prioritize how the School Board should allocate the resources with which they are provided, but rather, simply to determine the level of funding which will be made available for the upcoming school year.
The process of a school budget review requires a balancing of the Council’s desire to limit tax increases, with the School Board’s justification for educational needs and maintenance of the school infrastructure. Prioritizing the academic needs of our students must be left to the sound discretion of our elected School Board members who have been entrusted with providing the best education possible within the bounds of what the residents of Mt. Olive can afford.
The amount of time allocated and the size of the budget itself are incredible impediments to a full and thorough review. The implementation of major changes to reduce the school budget in such a short period of time is simply not feasible. Instead, the Council focuses on (1) line items within the failed school budget which increased disproportionately and (2) perceived perceptions within the community where reductions may be made.
In order to accomplish the review within the timeframe set forth under State law, the Council established a subcommittee of three members of the governing body and four residents who have an interest in and knowledge of the issues to be addressed. This year, the committee consisted of myself, Jim Buell and Russ Tepper from the governing body, as well as Bernie Guenther, Roy Hansel, Tim Kelly and Chris Kenny from the community.
In addition, the School Board was represented by Dr. Rosalie Lamonte, Sue Decker, George Johnson and Board members, Anthony Strillacci, Bruce Bott, Mark Werner and Rob Mania. Other interested residents who attended were invited to participate in the meeting.
Gary Higgins, Township Auditor, and his staff were utilized to examine and explain the school budget intricacies. Many issues were addressed and explored including programs, personnel, and transportation. The level of administrative and janitorial staffing were explored in depth. This included reviewing state guidelines and data from surrounding towns such as Randolph, Roxbury and Rockaway Township.
The subcommittee, which met approximately five times, including three with the School administration and Board, made the following recommendations.
With respect to significant savings that could be realized through study and implementation if appropriate, the School Board subcommittee identified that outsourcing janitorial and food services, as well as transportation would likely yield a significant reduction in needed expenditures. The subcommittee recognized that further reductions would likely occur through greater shared services with the municipality and exploring a regionalized school system. The School Board and administration agreed to study these proposed cost saving measures over the course of the year, in an effort to identify all positive and negative issues associated with making the proposed changes.
After significant discussion, the subcommittee is recommending a reduction of approximately four tax points, or $778,176.00 to the Council for approval. These reductions are broken down as follows:
Eliminate request for 3 new Custodians for High School
Salaries 3 @ $24,900 74,700
Benefits 3 @ $11,000 33,000
Subtotal: $ 107,700
This number represents personnel action since the
budget was developed. $ 236,476
3. Extraordinary Aid:
This number represents part of additional revenue
the district will receive based on extraordinary costs
for special education students. $ 100,000
4. Community School:
This number represents revenue derived from
assessment to Community School for:
Usage of building
Employee benefits $ 50,000
5. Bus Garage:
Postpone Phase 3 of the project. $ 284,000
Total: $ 778,176
In closing, I would like to thank all of the members of the Council, the subcommittee, the School Board and administration, Gary Higgins and all the members of the public who participated in this review.
President Greenbaum: I don’t know if anyone from Council has any questions or additional comments with respect to the School Budget. Seeing none, Roll Call.
ROLL CALL: Passed Unanimously with the exception Mr. Rattner abstained.
President Greenbaum: At this point, I will open the meeting up to anyone from the public who wishes to be heard on any particular issue. Seeing none, I will close it to the public.
President Greenbaum: Is there anyone who has any Council comments? Mayor, Mr. Prill, any comments?
Mayor De La Roche: The only thing I can say is. I was not invited nor did I participate in the review of the School Budget.
President Greenbaum: All I can say to that Mayor is that everyone from the public was invited to participate. In fact, any of the individuals that had a real interest in coming to the meeting were there. They sat through it and they participated as a member of the group. You certainly could have come in that fashion had you so desired?
Mayor De La Roche: I believe you had the budget hearing, the one that I was aware of, was during a Planning Board Meeting. As I indicated to you, I received no direct invitation nor did I participate in the negotiations or discussions.
President Greenbaum: Well, I guess that is one of the reasons the subcommittee worked so well this year.
Mayor De La Roche: Well, I wasn’t invited last year or the year before either and I can understand why it worked well since the cuts were not necessarily the ones that I would agree with.
President Greenbaum: Which cuts would you have contemplated?
Mayor De La Roche: It is a little too late to ask me now.
President Greenbaum: I would like to know for next year. What cuts? Did you review the budget?
Mayor De La Roche: We will discuss it next year if you want. You should have invited me.
President Greenbaum: Okay, you can come as a member of the public. Any other comments.
Mayor De La Roche: I am sure if you invite all the Council members...
President Greenbaum: I am sorry. I have opened it up to the rest of the Council, any other comments? Mr. Tepper any other comments....
Mayor De La Roche: Yes, since you invited all the Council members....
President Greenbaum: Mr. Tepper, any other comments please.
Mayor De La Roche: As well as former members of educational employees, I imagine I would be invited.
President Greenbaum: Excuse me Mayor. Mr. Tepper, any other comments.
Mr. Tepper: Yes, I believe that as my first time participating in these meeting and had felt that it would have originally started off very adversarial. I have to comment that I thought that it was very reasonably run and did a very good job at providing some direction. They were not entirely happy with the amount of cuts but that they were able to cut effectively four tax points from the budget and while we could all argue we would like to see it cut more, I think what we did take out will not hinder the education of the children and it affects more services that would be provided. So I am satisfied with it.
President Greenbaum: Mr. Buell?
Mr. Buell: Yes. I asked last week for a report on the insurance claim for the lawn mower. Mr. Prill, thank you for sending me the material. However, I find several things interesting, in reviewing the material in terms of the lawn mower....
Mayor De La Roche: Is this on the agenda?
Mr. Buell: As far as I can determine there is no date of purchase when the Mayor purchased the lawn mower. There is no cost of the original purchase. There is no listing of the type and model of the lawn mower and there is no history by Mount Olive Auto Body of when they repaired it and how often. There is no picture of the lawn mower or has the lawn mower been retained. I would love to know what the policy is and this is really the reason I am raising this issue. It seems from now on the Township is going to be wide open for anybody that has anything picked up on big pick up day, just simply because we don’t have a policy. I think we now need to begin to have a policy for materials picked up on the big pick up day and I would like a report from the Administration in terms of listing those things I just asked for. I would like to know what the date of the purchase of the lawn mower was, the original purchase price, the type and the model of lawn mower that was lost. I would like a list of the history of repairs from the Mount Olive Auto Body. I would like a picture of the lawn mower. I would like a rationale as to why the lawn mower was not retained after it was supposedly destroyed and I would like to know what copy of the policy that the administration is using for replacing lost or destroyed items of public.
Mr. Prill: Mr. Buell, this is a form....
Mr. Buell: I didn’t ask....
Mr. Prill: The form you are looking at is a Joint Insurance Fund form that is required to be filled out with any claim. That was filled out. It was submitted to the Joint Insurance Fund. They were satisfied with the information in there. They processed the claim and they paid the claim. If you have any questions, you need to address those questions to the Joint Insurance Fund since this was an insurance claim.
Mr. Buell: I will. I would also like to have that information I just requested provided whether it was provided to the insurance company or not?
President Greenbaum: Who actually filled out the form? Do you know Mr. Prill? Was it filled out by Christie or by Marilyn?
Mr. Prill: It was not filled out by anybody in the front office, Mr. Greenbaum.
Mr. Greenbaum: It was not?
Mr. Prill: No, it was not.
President Greenbaum: Okay.
Mr. Prill: Why would you ask a question like that?
President Greenbaum: Because the handwriting on the form is not the Mayor’s and I just wondered who actually filled out the form. Mayor do you know who filled out the form?
Mayor De La Roche: I don’t know what form you are referring to?
President Greenbaum: The notice of Tort Claim that was filed with the JIF.
Mayor De La Roche: No.
President Greenbaum: Any other comments?
Mayor De La Roche: Yes, I would just like to make one comment.
President Greenbaum: We are beyond you already. Colleen?
Mayor De La Roche: No, we are not because we are discussing a new subject matter.
President Greenbaum: We are beyond that.
Mayor De La Roche: The newspaper indicated that the lawn mower was at the curb.
President Greenbaum: Colleen, you have the floor.
Mayor De La Roche: It was not at the curb, it was about 15 feet up my driveway.
President Greenbaum: Mayor.....Mayor, we are not going to go through meetings without being recognized by the Chair. That is not the way the meetings are run.
Mayor De La Roche: I thought we were talking about the school budget. How did we get into a lawn mower?
President Greenbaum: Mayor, you do not have the prerogative to simply speak without getting the Chair’s permission. The meeting is not going to be run that way and we are past you and we are up to Mrs. Labow.
Mrs. Labow: No comment.
Mr. Perkins: No comment.
Mr. Rattner: I have none.
President Greenbaum: I have none. We will adjourn. Can I have a motion to adjourn out of the Special Public Meeting.
Mr. Perkins: So moved.
Mr. Rattner: Second.
President Greenbaum: It has been moved and seconded. Any discussion? Roll Call.
Motion was made and seconded, all in favor and none opposed, the meeting was adjourned at 7:44 pm.
ADJOURN to Workshop
Robert J. Greenbaum
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 June 13, 2006.