Township Council Minutes
May 17, 2002
The Special Public Meeting of the Mount Olive Township
Council was called to order at 6:15 pm by Council President
Scapicchio with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
MOMENT OF REFLECTION
President Scapicchio: If everyone would just join us. At
these Public Meetings, we now do a moment of reflection
of the men and women fighting terrorism and defending the
freedom that we all enjoy.
According to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate Notice
of this Meeting has been given to the Mt. Olive Chronicle
and the Morristown Daily Record. Notice has been posted
at in the Municipal Building, 204 Flanders-Drakestown Road,
Mt. Olive, New Jersey, and notices were sent to those requesting
ROLL CALL: Present: Mr. Guenther, Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Rattner,
Mr. Scapicchio, Mr. Spino
Absent: Mrs. Miller, Mr. Perkins
RESOLUTIONS - NON CONSENT
1. Resolution RE: Certification of Tax Levy (School District
Mr. Greenbaum moved for approval of the Resolution and
Mr. Guenther seconded the motion.
PUBLIC PORTION ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
President Scapicchio: Mr. Higgins, can you read that resolution
into the record for us?
Gary Higgins, Twp. Auditor: WHEREAS, the district tax levy
for the General Fund portion of the 2002/03 budget of? the
Board of Education of the Township of Mount Olive in the
amount of $37,726,007 was defeated by the voters of the
Township of Mount Olive at the annual school election held
on April 16, 2002, and
WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:22-37, the Municipal
Council did receive the proposed school budget and has consulted
with the local Board of Education on May 7, May 14, and
May 17, 2002 to discuss the proposed 2002/03 school budget,
WHEREAS, the Municipal Council did review said 2002/03
budget with the recommendations and justifications for the
reduction in the amount of $1,147,846 in the General Fund
budget tax levy for 2002/03 as per Attachment A.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE If RESOLVED, that the Municipal Council
of the Township of Mount Olive does hereby certify to the
Morris County Board of Taxation, that the amount necessary
to be levied for the General Fund budget to provide a thorough
and efficient education for the Township of Mount Olive
School District for the school year 2002/03 is $36,578,161.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the amount to be levied for
debt service certified to the Morris County Board of Taxation
shall be $2,581,095 for the school year 2002/03.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a certified copy of this resolution
shall be forwarded forthwith to the Morris County Board
of Taxation, the Morris County Superintendent of Schools,
the Mount Olive Board of Education and the Tax Assessor
of the Township of Mount Olive.
Mr. Spino: Just a question, do we have to accept this recommendation
or can we add, for example, the cutting of another teacher?
I see on the last page, there were originally nine, you
dropped it down to five.
Mr. Higgins: That's not nine teaching positions, there
were two maintenance positions offered in the high school
that we cut so the three positions end up being two teachers,
one in grade 6-8 and one in grade 9-12 and then one of the
two specialists. So it would be two teachers, one specialist
and two maintenance that make up the five positions whereby
the unallocated benefits were cut. Taking some of the information
given by the Board on their proposed cuts, the Council did
reinstate the half guidance counselor and substituted that
with the transportation services for the two students coming
back in the district. Additionally, what was earlier proposed,
the breakage and the cost of tuition for the two students
out of district deleted the reduction of the basic skills
salaries of teachers so they were basically reinstated too.
President Scapicchio: Earl, the Committee had originally,
the District had in their budget 15.9 new teachers.
Mr. Guenther: Excuse me, that wasn't just new teachers,
it was all the other
Mr. Higgins: Well, when we say teachers, I guess we clarified
earlier, they are not all classroom teachers. They actually
even included half a guidance counselor.
President Scapicchio: But they call them teachers. There
were 15.9. We reduced that originally down to 9.5. After
listening to the rationale provided by the School Board
George Johnson, Scott Ireland made a recommendation that
we add four additional teachers, that we had originally
identified as savings, back into the budget based on enrollment
and class sizes and that's where it is now, Earl. I'll tell
you that the Council Committee was divided on whether or
not they wanted to add those back in. If the majority was
here, that probably would not have passed. The majority
that was in attendance of this Committee meeting agreed
with Mr. Ireland's recommendation and that's identified
in the resolution that is sitting in front of you.
Mr. Spino: So what you are saying, instead of 15.9, you
will allow 13.5?
Mr. Higgins: 13.9 now. We swapped the guidance counselor
half body also and replaced it with the District's offer
to reduce transportation services for two students, special
ed children who will be brought back in the district. So
out of the 15.9 proposed, the school district ended up only
losing two of those positions based on the proposed cuts
on attachment A.
Mr. Spino: My question is if we can delete one more.
President Scapicchio: Earl, you can certainly, we're missing
our attorney here today, unfortunately, you can make an
amendment to this resolution and if you are inclined to
do that, Earl, you need to make an amendment to it, specify
what that amendment is, and get a second.
Mr. Spino: In grades one to five, I would include one more
President Scapicchio: So you would want to cut one additional
teacher at $48,000?
Mr. Spino: If that is what it comes out to.
President Scapicchio: Earl has an amended motion on the
table. Does any one want to second that?
Mr. Guenther seconded the Motion to Amend the Resolution.
President Scapicchio: Any public discussion? If you want
to say something, come up here, Larry.
Larry McEntee, Mt. Olive Bd. Of Ed.: I don't think it is
a good idea to cut a teacher in K-5, Earl. We're busting
at the seams in K-5 as it is. Second grade is 28 kids, we're
expecting it to go to 29 in third grade. It's not an acceptable
level. Cutting teachers in the K-5 level is unacceptable
from our perspective. I just think it is, you are not looking
at the whole picture. We're cutting out over $1 million
out of a budget with a school bursting at the seams. We
are over 400 more kids than we were two years ago with a
reduction in State Aid and the community expansion of the
Township. It's going to come. It's going to come out somewhere.
We are going to have to make some choices where we are going
to cut because we have to educate the kids. We don't decide
whether the schools come to the school. They move in and
then they come. I just think K-5 is a critical position,
one of them is at Tinc Road, it's in the third grade, it's
going to be the largest third grade class.
President Scapicchio: Anyone else from the public? Seeing
none, we'll close the public portion. Council discussion
on Mr. Spino's amended
Mr. Greenbaum: I'm not in favor of the amendment. I heard
the discussion by the Subcommittee. I appreciate the argument
made the School Board. I don't see that deletion at this
point as being significant in terms of our responsibilities
and I do see it as significant in terms of the educational
needs of the elementary children in the K-5 grades and I
would not be in favor of it.
Mr. Rattner: I'm sorry I'm late but it did take me almost
three hours to get here. Route 287 is a mess, you'll probably
hear about it tomorrow. What I'm looking at here, I guess
is the original proposal that the committee came up with,
I think I just heard it was 15.9 with everything out, you
basically came from the committee agreeing of basically
reducing 2 positions. You are still going with 13.9 and
what Earl has
Mr. Rattner (cont'd): asked for is to cut one more additional.
Now the way I look at it, $1.1 million, was a lot of work
to get there and the one thing that I've always been scared
about touching is something directly in the classroom. I
don't think anybody has ever complained about a teacher.
It's the other expenses. We hear about how much Administration
you have. It's a lot of that superfluous stuff. This is
an actual teacher who is in a classroom.
Mr. Spino: It's a new hire.
Mr. Rattner: It doesn't matter. It's a teacher in the classroom
that if I'm going to make any mistake, that's the one place
I that I'm going to, you know, be a little easier or make
a mistake, it's going to be on the side of having an extra
teacher. That's the one thing that directly affects the
kids. The carpeting on the floor doesn't, so many other
things, don't. A teacher does mean something so from what
I know from looking at the number, it hasn't changed too
much from the committee report we got and you are able to
do it without cutting teachers, I'll go with the way the
committee submitted it so I will vote no on the amendment.
COUNCIL COMMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL RESOLUTIONS
ROLL CALL (on amended Resolution): Defeated, Mr. Spino
Mr. Guenther: Just before I vote, I want to say, even though
I supported in subcommittee a reduction of a couple more
teachers, I don't think this is the place to cut it. I would
cut at the high school so I'll also vote No.
Mr. Guenther: It's been an arduous process. A process I
think that not only the committee members but, especially
us on the Council, I'm uncomfortable with it. I hate it.
I wish we weren't put in that position to have to make some
of these hard choices. I congratulate the work that Gary
Higgins did. I think he did a thorough job in providing
us the information that we needed and I think I know it's
painful. The board members, I'm sure most of them don't
agree with what we are doing but I believe these are the
times that try men's souls. They are tough times and the
voters spoke on April 16th as to what should be done. I
don't agree with the Council President wholeheartedly, his
position that the voters asked us to just look at it. I
think the vote by the large margin in which it went through,
asked us to reduce. How much to reduce is really up to us.
I think we've done a good job. I don't want to pat myself
on the back. It's just been difficult but I hope that we
don't go through this process again. I hope next year, the
Board does a better job of selling their budget to the public
and getting it out there, getting the information out there
to the public so that they can intelligently make a voting
decision when they go into the voting booth. I don't think
that happened this year and probably there was a lot of
misinformation out there amongst the public that went to
vote that didn't understand what was in the budget and I
think it behooves both the Administration and the Board
to do that next year and hopefully we won't be sitting here
again next year.
Mr. Greenbaum: Let me just say that I appreciate what the
Board of Education has to go through in terms of putting
together the budget and all that they do during the course
of the year. It really is a thankless job and their intent
is to provide in the best interests of our children yet
our role here is kind of a hybrid role. We have to protect
everyone's interests within the town to make sure that those
who do not have children in the district and those that
do have children in the school district and those who pay
taxes in town are represented in the process when the budget
is not approved by the voters. I know it is a thankless
task being part of the committee. I didn't volunteer to
become part of the committee for personal reasons but I
appreciate the efforts of everyone that did participate
and Mr. Higgins as well but I think that this is a fair
resolution of the issue and I'm prepared to vote in favor
of the resolution as it currently stands.
President Scapicchio: I'd just like to finalize it by saying
that I wear three hats here; I'm a parent, I'm a taxpayer
and I'm a Councilman who is actually charged with reviewing
and voting on a resolution that adopts this school budget.
I believe that the committee looked at this in a thorough,
responsible way. The Board of Education was very cooperative
in supplying us with the information that we requested in
a timely fashion and I am satisfied that we have made or
identified the appropriate savings that do not open the
classroom door and still provide a thorough and efficient
education for the students of Mount Olive Township and I
will also be supporting this resolution.
ROLL CALL (on original Resolution): Passed Unanimously
President Scapicchio: We have a memorandum from Mr. Higgins
and our ratings have gone from, Mr. Higgins, why don't you.
Mr. Higgins: The Township will be selling Bonds next Tuesday
at 11 o'clock, $7,665,000 in general obligation bonds. During
the past week, the Chief Financial Officer, Sherry Jenkins,
and myself made a presentation to Moody's Investor Services
from whom the Township receives there rating from. Subsequent
to the rating presentation, we were notified, just the other
day, that the rating of the Township has been upgraded from
an A1 to a AA3 and basically, what this means is that this
will translate to lower interest costs and savings on interest
on future borrowings for the Township. That's some good
news and Tuesday we will receive the bids. The most current
rates are around 4.2%-4.3% for 15 year bonds which we are
looking at and we look to obtain a favorable rating on Tuesday
morning when we take the competitive bids.
Motion to adjourn made and seconded. All in favor, none
opposed, the meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
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 18, 2002
LISA M. LASHWAY
Mount Olive Township Clerk