Larry Cohen, Township Attorney
Lydia Magnotti, Township
Mrs. Magnotti said, ?Let the record
show that Mayor Felter will not be here this evening, however, Administrator
Leach is present. Also present is Bill
Eagen, Chief Financial Officer, and Chuck Ferraioli, Township Auditor.
President Yocum asked that everyone rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.
President Yocum said, ?This
Council Workshop meeting for March 8, 2006, commencing at 7:30 p.m. has been
properly noticed in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act by notice to
the official newspaper of the Township on March 2, 2006.?
2006 Budget Overview (58-A)
began his overview with the Annual Debt Statement and told the Council that it
is a statutory requirement. The purpose
of the Statement is to show the net debt of the Township that the taxpayers are
responsible for which is included in the town?s budget. The town?s net debt at the end of 2005 is
$14,553,159. Ferraioli said that by New
Jersey Law, they are entitled to the average of the last three years equalized
value or true real estate value.
According to law, the town is entitled to 3-1/2 percent of the equalized
value and that allows a maximum debt of $80,471,871. There is currently outstanding $14,553,000 so the town is under
its debt limit by almost $66,000,000.
The net debt as a percentage is 0.63% so from a borrowing point of view,
the town is in excellent financial condition.
said that last year the cap law changed and the town will begin to feel the
impact of that change this year and next year.
It will be extremely difficult for many towns to stay within the
cap. Ferraioli referred to the second
page of his Statement to the Department of Community Affairs. The cap this year is $11,221,747. He explained that if the town chooses to
enact an indexing ordinance, as per his recommendation, this will add an
additional 1%, the cap will go to $11,331,227.
The town is also entitled to the prior cap bank from 2004 in the amount
of $620 and from 2005 in the amount of $165,878 for a total of $166,499. Ferraioli said that next year the cap bank
will probably be zero. This year the
add on to the cap for new construction is $242,627. The total maximum budget allowed within the cap this year is $11,740,354. The current budget within the cap is
$11,857,943. Ferraioli said that
$117,588 needs to be cut from inside the cap.
Right now the budget as it stands is over the cap and it cannot be
submitted this way unless the Council chooses to go for a referendum to exceed
the cap. Cohen said if the Township
derives income from other sources such as land sales, that money would go into
surplus but if a substantial surplus is built up, will the town be allowed to
use it to exceed the cap? Ferraioli
said the town could go to the Finance Board to apply to use the surplus. Cohen asked if the cap law can be used in
labor negotiations to hold down wages.
Ferraioli said he heard a bill was introduced that states salary
increases cannot go above the cap, however, he has been in front of arbitrators
many times and salaries usually follow those of surrounding towns. Ferraioli said that insurances and pension
increases are still outside the cap, however, he assumes once the pension hits
the 100% mark it will be moved back in and he feels the insurance may move back
advised the Council that with regard to the Highlands Legislation, he is
advising as many of his clients as he can to reinvent the watershed towns?
coalition. If the towns join together,
they can lobby revenue back in the form of a water infrastructure surcharge. This year the town has a cap add on fee of
$242,627 for new construction but at some point, because of the Highlands,
there will not be anymore building. The
building will be reduced to additions, garages and decks. The town will be penalized from a cap point
of view. Ferraioli said that he had a
bond sale in West Milford recently and it was noted with regard to their credit
rating that although they have a large base, that base will not be growing and
may stabilize due to the Highlands building restrictions. Ferraioli said that as long as the Highlands
is there in its present form, it will impact their bond rating. Ferraioli said Jefferson will be impacted
similarly. The Highlands/Watershed
towns should get together, communicate and eventually act as lobbyists to get
watershed aid and a possible water surcharge.
Cohen said that the State has ruled with regard to the tax appeals this
year due to the Highlands and if the town settles a case, then the town cannot
apply for any funding to cover the reduction in the assessment. The State has determined that there has to
be a decision of the Tax Court, so every case will have to be tried. Cohen asked if Ferraioli can send the town a
letter explaining how the Highlands Act can affect the town?s credit rating. He will then prepare a Resolution to be sent
to the legislature and to circulate to other Highlands towns. Yocum agreed and said that was a good
detailed the Water and Sewer Budget.
The Water Utility is in very good financial shape. The Sewer Utility began 2005 with $118,314
in surplus and $118,000 was used in the 2005 budget. The balance at the end of 2005 was $314.73, however, Ferraioli said
they will be able to balance the sewer budget this year. The water budget revenues exceeded what was
budged by $386,204. Ferraioli
highlighted the Miscellaneous item which consists of connection fees, interest
on investments and prior unspent budget.
Under Miscellaneous, $159,574 was budgeted and $307,470 was
collected. This year this was cut down
to $120,000 so when they get to a point where the connection fees stop, this
will not suddenly drop off. Ferraioli
said the surplus ended up being $396,901 and the balance as of December 2005
was $1,478,607. The bottom line is the water
utility is in good shape. Yocum said
that now the town?s reliance on the MUA water should be drastically less. Leach said that they have finally passed
some hurdles with DEP Water Allocation and the Highlands. The application for the Peaks well was
deemed complete and now the DEP has 400 days to review the application. Hopefully in 2008 that well will be
on-line. At that point, the town will
only need about 2,000 gallons instead of the 300,000 or 400,000 gallons that is
currently being purchased from the MUA.
then went over the Current Fund and said that $213,090 more was collected than
was budgeted. For delinquent taxes, the
budget was exceeded by $16,128 and the current taxes exceeded the budget by
$1,491,189. Miscellaneous Revenues Not
Anticipated, such as the land sale, totaled $331,490 as well as a sale of
foreclosed property in the amount of $468,700.
The Payment in Lieu of Taxes on Real Property was $8,225. The Balance from the 2004 Budget was
$172,486 with Interfunds at $339,371 and Cancellation of Various Reserves at
$55,888. Ferraioli said that on the
Debit side, under Interfund there is almost $1 million that is owed to
current. The majority of that is from
the Open Space Fund because they are waiting for grants from the County and the
State. Once that money comes in it will
turn to surplus. In January 2005 there
was $3,222,827 surplus, $2,090,955 was put back in, $2,023,531 was budgeted as revenue
so on the face, the surplus is $3,290,251.
Ferraioli explained that because there are interfunds in the amount of
$1,138,485, which are monies due to current fund, the real surplus at the end
of the year is $4,428,736.
spoke regarding the tax rate and stated that at this point they have to assume
they will get the same State Aid as last year.
Using last year?s ratable base for this year?s budget, it would be a
5-point increase assuming there will be a cut to come within the cap. Leach said it would come out to about $80 to
the average homeowner whether under the new or old tax rate. Sanchelli commented that this is just the
town taxes, not including County or School.
Cohen said there should be a lot of tax appeals this year because of the
Revaluation and Ferraioli said he would expect more next year. Ferraioli stated that if Watershed Aid is
not in the State?s Budget on March 31, the town should file for Extraordinary
Aid. Sanchelli complimented Ferraioli
and stated he has done an excellent job as always. Ferraioli asked if there were any questions.
stated that he met with Leach and Eagen briefly prior to the meeting to discuss
the Budget status and the $117,000 is doable.
Yocum asked the Council if anyone else had any questions for Ferraioli. Ferraioli then urged the Council and
Administration to contact their Senate and Assembly people. The increases in pension costs are
ridiculous and trying to get back up to 100 percent over a 5-year period does
not make sense. Ferraioli suggested
speaking to the legislators about spreading the increases over a longer period
of time. Ferraioli was thanked for his
reported that he would like to update everyone on the lawsuit that was being
heard in Morristown concerning Taryn McNamara, the 17 year old Jefferson
Township resident that was killed on Route 15 in 2003. The suit was filed against the DOT by the
family of Taryn. Yocum explained that
he, Leach, Mr. Chamberlain and Crp. Mueller were all scheduled to testify
today. Yesterday, the Deputy Attorney
General filed a Suppression Motion to stop Jefferson Township officials from
testifying at the trial because she felt there was a conspiracy amongst the
Jefferson Officials because of failed attempts to get a traffic light installed
on Route 15. That Motion was heard and
dismissed. Yocum said that he testified
for an hour and was cross-examined for 2 hours. There was a break in the proceedings and then the DOT decided
that it would be in their best interests to settle the suit. Yocum said that this now allows that family
to move forward and close this chapter.
Yocum then said that it is his hope that the DOT will alter the way they
respond to requests from municipalities in the future. Hardy commented that although Taylor Road
has been made a one way, nothing has been done to alter the sight distance
problem that caused the accident. Yocum
said that he was asked if making the road one way made it a safer intersection
and he responded that it made it less dangerous.
Fees for Plenary Retail Consumption License
Hardy stated that increases in the license renewal fee have
been worked out on a yearly basis up to 2010 representing an increase each year
of no more than 20 percent of the prior year?s fee. The State?s level is currently $2500. The process of raising the town?s fee to be in line with the
State fee began back in 2002. Sanchelli
asked if Club License fees will be raised and Hardy said they will remain the
same. Yocum asked Cohen to make the changes
to the Ordinance for introduction at the April meeting.
Draft Animal License Sample Ordinance
Yocum explained that through
conversations with the Health Department, they arrived at the number 5 for
licensed pets. This does not make the
residence with 5 pets a kennel, shelter or pet shop. The Ordinance requires the owner to register with the Clerk?s
Office on a form and be subject to a minimum of one annual inspection by the
Department of Health. There will be an
annual fee that will be set by the Health Department. Cohen suggested that the Ordinance read if you have 5 or more
licensed animals in your possession and it would mean cats or dogs. There was a discussion of the violations of
the licensing ordinance and this new ordinance. Yocum said they would like to keep this ordinance simple and the
fee should be in line with $15 or $25 to cover the administrative portion of
the ordinance. Yocum advised that the
ordinance is a preventive measure and in towns where similar ordinances have
been put in place, people do not stop licensing their animals. Leach asked if there was a reason why the
license is coming from the Clerk instead of the Health Department. Magnotti said she spoke with the Health
Officer and she feels that because it is not the licensing of pets, it would
fall into the kennel, shelter, pet shop licensing category and the Clerk?s
Office would handle it. Leach stated
that the Ordinance would be enforced by the Health Department. The Licensing Program in the Health
Department can probably be modified to generate a report, by address, of
residents that would fall under this Ordinance. Yocum suggested they discuss the number of pets that the
Ordinance should cover. Cohen said it
might be a good idea to generate a report detailing how many households this
would affect. Hardy commented that when
residents go through the licensing process and license 5 or 6 pets, they can
also take care of the pet fee at the same time. Cohen added that this only affects pets that are 7 months or
older and if an animal has a litter, it does not apply.
Stormwater Management Plan
reported that the Stormwater Plan that was prepared was part of the State
requirement as part of the Stormwater Regulations. Jeff Elam prepared this Plan and it was reviewed and approved by
the Planning Board. It is now up to the
Council to adopt the Plan. Cohen
suggested having Elam present to review the Plan with the Council before doing
a simple Resolution for adoption.
Magnotti stated that Elam sent the Plan to the Morris County Planning
Board on March 3. Leach said he will
have an updated report on Friday from Elam.
Sanchelli stated that he does a lot of the Stormwater Management work
for the County. He spoke to a DEP
representative last week about the illicit connection part of the Stormwater
Management Plan, which is very stringent and almost impossible for the
municipality to enforce. The
representative asked him to draft an idea of changes to the illicit connection
part. Sanchelli gave an example of an
illicit connection as residential sump pumps connected to the storm drain. Leach commented that there is no place else
for the water to go.
Cohen reported that one of his
partners is the Counsel to the Sussex County MUA and they are presently having
the same problem that the Jefferson Board of Education is experiencing with the
regulations. The Sussex County MUA is
attacking the rule making process that put the rules in affect and they are
alleging that it is an improper ruling by the DEP. Cohen said he is trying to obtain some information from the law
firm that is handling their case so it can be passed on to the Board of
Education. Bradley Campbell has been
subpoenaed for deposition. The law firm
they are using specializes in clean water regulations and they have said that
New Jersey has overstepped its bounds.
The assertion is that the real reason for the regulations is not for
cleaner water but to halt development and generate revenue. Leach said he spoke with Coe today and
learned that zinc can be added to a potable water supply because it is not a
toxic substance. In time, it will coat
pipes and will stop other things from leaching through pipes into the
water. Yet, the DEP is demanding that
the water coming out of the sewer plant have less zinc and copper than is
present in the drinking water supply.
This has no affect on human health and has to do with the life forms
that are in the area where the water is discharged. Yocum asked that this matter be placed on the April 12 Agenda for
discussion with Jeff Elam.
1,100 Home Development
Border of Rockaway/Wharton
said that it was thought that this project was not going to move forward
because of the lack of potable water.
In the meantime, the Council has learned that the Town of Wharton is
entering into an agreement with the developer to supply potable water in
exchange for several million dollars worth of improvements to Wharton?s water
system and a new municipal building.
Yocum stated that he has issues with this type of thinking and feels
that the development will have an adverse impact on Jefferson Township and
commuters coming out of Sussex County.
Yocum asked Leach if these stories are accurate. Leach reported that he met with the Business
Administrator from Rockaway Township, however, he did not speak to anyone from
Wharton. The project would have been
stopped or reduced by half due to water concerns. There were wells that could not be licensed because of problems
from Pictatinny. Apparently, Wharton
entered into this agreement with the developers to give them the water they
need. The municipal improvements will
be in the area of $4.5 million to Wharton.
Leach reported that they still may need an alternate water supply. The wells that are of concern will have a
filtration system but the DEP is demanding a backup system in the event the
filtration fails. This is where Wharton
will come in. Rockaway feels that they
will have to sign off on this Agreement because it is in their Township with
their water plant. Yocum asked Cohen
and Leach for recommendations on beginning discussions with Rockaway and Wharton
regarding the impact on Jefferson and Sussex County. Leach said Jefferson presently has a close relationship with the
Mayor, Administrator, Assistant Administrator and Engineer in Rockaway Township
so perhaps the Council sub-committee could begin by meeting with Mayor Sceusi
and the Administrator. Yocum said he
has had some dealings with the Administrator of Wharton and possibly Leach
could set up a meeting with the Administrators from Rockaway and Wharton so all
the facts can be clear prior to the Council making a statement. Leach could express the Council?s concerns
and gather the facts at the three-way meeting.
Leach said he would first give the Wharton Administrator a call and meet
with him. Cohen suggested sending a
letter to each Administrator expressing our concerns, asking about the status
and asking to be notified of any public discussion. Leach said he will call the Wharton Administrator tomorrow and
then he will follow up with letters.
Cohen said that with regard to the DEP, if the deal is made, they will
need a Diversion Permit. Leach reported
that he believes they have the Diversion Permit and there is a high producing
well on the site. There are concerns
about a backup system. Cohen said they
will need Extension Permits from the DEP because water is going into another
municipality. This process will involve
public comment and a public hearing.
Yocum commented that he is amazed that the designation of the Highlands
is exactly around this project to exclude it from the Highlands. Sanchelli asked if originally Jefferson was
going to provide water for this development.
Leach stated that Rockaway Township needed water and had an easement in
Jefferson Township on Taylor Road.
There was talk about a joint venture to build a pump station and joint
water plant. Eventually, the pollution
concern came up with the Pond View Estate development. Yocum said the other issue is that this
development is being built in an area where there is concern about what is
underneath the ground in those aquifers.
Yocum added that he also has an issue with a municipality entering into
an agreement like this whereby they will benefit monetarily and they are not
taking into account the impact on surrounding communities. Merz asked if Jefferson was noticed in the
very beginning because Jefferson Township property lies within feet of the
development. Yocum agreed that the town
did receive notification of the project in the beginning. Merz said the town has known it was being
planned, although the Council may not have known all the semantics. Rockaway has a water reserve in Jefferson on
Taylor Road. The MUA was looking to
drill a well there but the DEP would not give them a permit. Leach explained that the water fights have
been going on forever.
Welcome to Jefferson
signs on Rt. 15 and Berkshire Valley Road
reported that the signs will be done this budget year over the construction
season. They are looking for a boy
scout to help with the project.
asked if there were any members of the public that would like to come forward
with a question or comment and seeing no one, he closed the public portion of
advised the Council that there is a map of the Pond View Estate development on
the table if anyone would like to take a look at it.
Adjournment at 8:52
Motion: Sanchelli, second Hardy
Mr. Hardy Aye
Mr. Sanchelli Aye
Mr. Birmingham Aye
Vice President Merz Aye
President Yocum Aye
Dated: March 8, 2006
Lydia Magnotti, Township Clerk Debi Merz, Council Vice