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Jefferson Township
Jefferson Township, N.J. • 1033 Weldon Rd, Lake Hopatcong NJ.
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Roll Call
Roll Call

Present                                            Absent

                  Mr. Hardy

                  Mrs. Merz

Mr. Birmingham                                  Vice President Sanchelli

President Yocum

                        Twsp. Attorney, Larry Cohen will not be present this evening

                        Lydia Magnotti, Township Clerk

 

            Mrs. Magnotti said, ?Let the record show that Mayor Felter will not be present this evening, however, Administrator James Leach is present.  Also present is Chief Financial Officer, William Eagen and Deputy Clerk, Patricia Dale.

 

Salute to the Flag

Council President Yocum asked everyone to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Notice of Presiding Officer

Council President Yocum said, ?This Budget meeting of February 26, 2007 commencing at 6:30 p.m. has been properly noticed in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act by notice to the official newspapers of the Township on February 16, 2007.

 

2007 Municipal Budget Overview

            Leach stated that Eagen has gone into great detail with each Department head during the work on the Budget.  There have been either no increases or minor increases.  Leach said that Eagen will review the areas of the Budget where there are increases and most of those involve areas that the town has no control over.  There was a meeting last Friday with Ferraioli and revenues are down around $800,000.  Eagen said that he has been working on some areas including canceling some old reserves that would go to surplus that may be available for a budget revenue item.  Eagen said that the financial statements are just about done and they may be able to shrink the $800,000 by about $200,000.  Eagen said that there is almost $1 million coming in from open space and Green Acres from a 2005 purchase, which will help next year?s surplus.  Leach said that the goal is to get the Capital spending to $1 million a year and have the financing 50/50 or half paid and half bonded.  With the Highlands, the town will not have new ratables so they will have to start saying no to some projects.  The town has a good bond rating and a low debt ratio.

 

The Library funding has risen over the last several years and next year it will hit $1 million.  It goes up $125,000 each year.  Leach said they will have to look to the Library to fund more out of their money.  Leach explained that the town would usually give $8,500 to each Senior Citizen group for a total of $17,000; $800 for Veterans Day; $500 for Lake Hopatcong fire works; $2,000 for Gazebo Concerts and $16,000 for Jefferson Days.  Leach said they could ask the Library to pick up the cost on these type of public events for a total of $36,300.  Birmingham asked what the Library?s funding was before the town took it over and Leach said it was $50,000 the year before the takeover.  Leach said that these are cultural events and the town has to fund the Library so this is not unreasonable.  The town pays all the Library?s insurance and grounds expenses.

 

Leach said that in the future there will not be many more major open space acquisitions because of the Highlands.  For cap purposes, they may have to look at the Ordinance in order to use Open Space funds for the upgrading and maintenance of Open Space and Recreation Facilities.  Items that are normally paid for in the current budget may have to be moved to the Recreation Trust Fund and Open Space Fund.  Birmingham said that the Open Space could be used for Capital and the Recreation could be used for operating recreation.  Leach said that otherwise, over the next few years, they are not sure how the new caps with the 4 percent levy increase will work out.  Birmingham commented that there was talk about selling land to the State.  Leach said they cannot sell land purchased with County Open Space funds but there are some parcels currently under negotiations to go to the State.

 

Leach explained that they will not hire any additional summer help except for the summer camp.  Birmingham commented that they have had a mild winter.  Eagen said that the last significant snowstorm was around $50,000 and yesterday?s storm was around $20,000.  Eagen said that he will be doing a transfer resolution to move $150,000 from last year?s DPW snow budget into the snow trust.  Birmingham stated that the Governor has said that he feels the Highlands should be compensated for the losses in revenue.  Eagen said that he will be talking about getting together a group to lobby regarding the Highlands.  Ferraioli has met with officials from Hunterdon and Warren County to see if there is a desire to get together a group to lobby for aid because of the economic impact on the municipalities.  Leach said water is being taken from this area and sold in other parts of the State.  Tax rates are being subsidized through the sale of water and there should be a user fee on the water that comes from here.

 

Yocum left the meeting at 7:25 p.m.

 

Birmingham asked about the State aid the town received last year and Leach said it was down a little bit.  This year it may be 2 percent.  Leach said that Ferraioli feels that if they are looking at a 10 percent tax increase on the municipal side, there may be the chance for extraordinary aid.

 

Yocum returned to the meeting at 7:30 p.m.

 

Eagen said that on the revenue side, the UCC revenues are down $175,000 and that can be attributed to the Highlands.  After two years of decreased revenues, they will have a better chance of receiving aid.

 

Eagen reviewed long range budget considerations with the Council.  Eagen explained           (24-A)

that the ratable base was up for 2006 because of the revaluation but from now on it will be small with additions, decks, etc.  Leach commented that they are in good shape with tax appeals.  The Highlands? impact is apparent in the UCC fees, which are down $175,000 and also in the tax appeals.  Ferraioli suggested that Hopkins meet with other assessors in the Highlands to evaluate and create a uniform method to quantify the impact.  Eagen explained that the Cap law has them bound each year to 2.5 percent and it can go to 3.5 percent with the index ordinance.  The town?s cap at 2.5 percent is $293,100.85; at 3.5 percent it is $410,341.19.  Eagen said that he is confident that they will be able to keep all the numbers within the cap.  Eagen explained the levy cap.  The appropriations will be in cap and then all the revenues and budget appropriations will be combined to see if they are up more than 4 percent.  If the budget is up more than 4 percent, caps will have to be made on the appropriations side or revenue side.  The process is complicated because certain things are in cap on the appropriations side or levy side.  Many things are being done to force the town?s hand to change the way things are done.  Eagen said that shared services are being encouraged with items being pushed out of cap and grant money being made available.  There is a Regional Consolidation Committee being formed that may have the power to force the consolidation of smaller towns.

 

            Eagen stated that PFRS and PERS are up $256,215.20.  Next year is the last year of the five-year phase in and then it will come back in the cap.  Debt service is about 7 percent of the budget.  The Library is at $1 million per the State calculation.  There is a cap of 15 percent each year on that number.  The total tax levy is $51,077,614.15 and the tax rate per $100 assessed value is $1.60.  Eagen said that the rate compared to the rest of the county is one of the lowest.

 

            Eagen said that in contract negotiations, 3.5 percent is about the highest they can go.  They are looking for givebacks with health benefit cost sharing and that is where all municipalities are going.  The State just settled a contract with significant givebacks in their health plan.  The Family Traditional is at $20,376 and fortunately there are only 5 active employees with Traditional and most are in NJ Plus.  Hardy said that the unions agreed back when medical costs were reasonable and they have just escalated every year.  Back in 1989, the State Health Benefits Program became a burden.  Leach said that there are different rules for State employees, School Board employees and municipalities.  Eagen stated that with the way the law is crafted, the only thing they can have the employee pick up is a portion of the dependent coverage.  Eagen stated that the Extraordinary Aid Application is due on the 23rd of March and there is a Council meeting scheduled for March 21.  Eagen stated that there is a Council meeting scheduled for March 7 and perhaps they should plan a Budget meeting for then with another to finalize everything on March 14.

 

            Eagen went through the increases in the 2007 budget.  The Library increase is $125,860, out of cap.  Each year a State Aid Report is done for the library, which includes insurance and calculations of the payroll clerk, CFO time and Administrator?s time.  The town then receives a number of in-kind aid for them.  Eagen said that perhaps the Library can reimburse the town the way they now reimburse the town for health insurance.  The pension increase is $256,215, out of cap.  The increase for insurances is $212,734 and it is in the cap this year.  Health insurance increase is actually down this year at 10 percent but the liability insurance is up.  The liability insurance was hit with a special assessment because of the 2004 and 2005 years.  Eagen said that he and Leach have had a safety meeting and they are looking to augment that with some other programs.  Eagen reported that the General Insurance Fund may be coming in to impress upon the governing body that all the towns are equal partners in the insurance company.  GIF is also looking to formalize the return to work policy for all towns.  Eagen said Jefferson does not have the policy in writing and they will be working on it over this next year.  The Roads OE is up $25,050, in the cap.  Leach said that there was an increase in road paint, Police vehicle warranties and the snow was kept the same as last year.  The Utilities OE is up $43,350, in the cap.  The Council discussed complaints received about Township vehicles being left to idle.  Salaries based upon last year?s budget are increased $285,660.  Debt Service is up $172,145, out of the cap.  Eagen stated that this is the first year that they have not done any permanent financing of notes since 2002.  The Capital Improvement Fund is up $25,000 and the Reserve for uncollected taxes is up $25,000.

 

            Eagen said that the trend for new employees is cross training them to work in multiple offices.  When people retire or leave, they will evaluate whether to replace them or absorb that position.  Leach said they will also consider part time people so they do not have to pay benefits.  Birmingham asked if there is any State shared services money available for the shared electrical inspector with Sparta or the Health Department with Mt. Arlington.  Eagen said that it is more seed money for complex undertakings such as merging police departments.  Leach said that they have a plumbing inspector that also works for Bernardsville but if we did a shared services agreement, it might put him in an overtime position.  Hopkins is also the Tax Assessor for Butler and Charlotte Wilson was mentioned because she works for 3 municipalities.  Eagen said that there is nothing formalized and Wilson works on private agreements with each town.

 

            Leach said that at tomorrow?s Budget meeting, Recreation, Communications and DPW will be present.  Those three are the large capital budgets.  Leach explained that there is not a vehicle for the Health Department so they are going to replace the Chief?s vehicle and give the old vehicle to the Health Department.  Leach said he feels they should also have Tuttle come in from Utilities because they need another person in the sewer utility.  Eagen said that last year Hatch Mott was running the sewer operations for the first six months at $260,000 annually.  By shifting things in-house, they are bringing in $130,000 of expenditure and they should be able to pay for an additional person.  Leach said that is the only new employee considered and it will be offset by revenues.  A water and sewer increase has to be discussed also.  Eagen said that the Utility Advisory Board requested a meeting with him or Ferraioli to review utility rates.  Eagen said he will schedule the meeting and he believes they will be making a recommendation for a restructuring of the rates.  Leach said that he would like to see the sewer bill structured similar to a water bill whereby it is driven by usage.

 

Miscellaneous/Public Portion

Yocum opened the meeting up to the public and asked if anyone would like to come forward with a question or comment and seeing no one come forward, he closed the public portion of the meeting.

 

            Merz said that under Administration, Training and Education, historically there was $24,000 and $22,000 and this year there is only $2,000.  Leach said that there were some employees that were being reimbursed for Masters Degrees and they have finished.  Yocum said that if anyone has any questions, they should email Leach or Eagen prior to the meeting.

 


Resolutions

Resolution #07-14:  Authorizing Passage of the Consent Agenda                                          (26-A)

Motion:  Merz, second Birmingham

Mr. Hardy                                 Aye

      Mrs. Merz                                Aye

Mr. Birmingham                      Aye

      Vice President Sanchelli         Absent

President Yocum                    Aye

 

Resolution #07-15:  Approval of Bills, As Amended                                                                 (26-B)

Motion:  Birmingham, second Yocum

Mr. Hardy                                 Aye

      Mrs. Merz                                Aye

Mr. Birmingham                      Aye

      Vice President Sanchelli         Absent

President Yocum                    Aye

 

Adjournment at 8:00 p.m.

Motion:  Merz, second Yocum

Mr. Hardy                                 Aye

      Mrs. Merz                                Aye

Mr. Birmingham                      Aye

      Vice President Sanchelli         Absent

President Yocum                    Aye

 

Dated:  February 26, 2007

 

Attested:                                                                     Approved:

 

 

 

 

_________________________                            ______________________________

Maria E. Pivirotto, Deputy Clerk                              Richard W. Yocum, Council President

 

 


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