February 15, 2007 Budget Review Meeting
|Date:||February 15, 2007|
MINUTES OF THE BUDGET REVIEW MEETING OF THE TEANECK TOWNSHIP COUNCIL HELD IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS ON THURSDAY,
FEBRUARY 15, 2007
Mayor Katz called the meeting to order at 6:07 P.M.
Present: Councilmember Rudolph, Councilmember Kates, Councilmember Gussen, Councilmember Feit, Councilmember Honis, Deputy Mayor Parker (arrived at 6:10 P.M.), Mayor Katz
Also Present: Municipal Manager Fall, Assistant to Manager Aportela-Hernandez
Adequate notice of this meeting has been provided by adoption of Resolution No. 466-06 setting the 2007 meeting dates, mailing a copy to THE RECORD, THE SUBURBANITE, THE BERGEN NEWS/SUN BULLETIN, THE CONNECTION, THE JEWISH STANDARD and SU GIA filing a copy in the Township Clerk’s Office and posting it on the Municipal Building bulletin board and the Mayor hereby directs that this statement be included in the minutes.
Mayor Katz announced to the public this is the sixth budget meeting. He stated that as presented in the article in the Record, the revaluation will cause a significant increase in their proportionate share of taxes for many residents. He welcomed Mr. McCue, Library Director and Former Mayor Ostrow, member of the Library Board, to tonight's meeting to provide insight on the Library budget.
GOOD AND WELFARE
Mayor Katz opened the meeting for good and welfare.
Joan Davis commented that the Cedar Lane Special Improvement District was comprised of diverted taxpayer funds, questioned when the Finance Advisory Board will conduct its analysis of economic development and questioned the Birdsall study.
Paul Ostrow mentioned that Teaneck is in a unique situation as a highly dense area with the only option of vertical expansion; reminded Council that budgeting is a 365 day/year job for municipal staff, and people may complain about taxes, but they will complain more about lack of services.
Lucille Bertram - Library employee- advised Council that the NY Times has featured articles about the unique services provided by the Township and stated that she is proud to work for the Library.
Allison Vailano - Library employee - stated that the Library is the Town center and one of the places why someone would move to Teaneck.
Mohammed Mian - thanked Council and the Manager for their time during the budget process. He recommended Council evaluate shared services, explore privatization, and to redevelop the 4 commercial business districts to shift the tax burden. He stated that if there should be residential redevelopment, it should emphasize on seniors so as not to burden the schools.
There being no other persons who wished to speak, Good and Welfare was closed by unanimous consent.
Mrs. Fall clarified that it was incorrect to indicate the additional tax assessment for the Cedar Lane Special Improvement District was a diversion of general funds; the properties within the district pay the additional assessment.
Mr. McCue explained that the Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS) is a 30 year old system founded with the intent to share resources and materials. BCCLS has grown from 40 to 73 members, especially with the expansion of the Internet. The Township funds provided above the state-mandated 1/3 million help subsidize other communities. Although the Library structurally needs an upgraded HVAC system and a new roof, it is ranked #1 in the County in terms of usage. He reported that on the average libraries receive 2% of the total tax dollar, while the Teaneck Library receives 2.09% with an output that exceeds the average library. In comparison, smaller communities in New York vote on their library budgets and receive the same level of funding. Mr. McCue stated that over the past 20 years the state funded reference centers have declined to only 1. The Teaneck Library is the only library in the east Bergen area to offer an electronic typewriter and has one of the largest CD collections in the State. The Library is functioning as net-plus as we are lending more materials than residents are going to libraries outside of Teaneck to obtain. The other libraries in BCCLS are considered as off-site storage for new materials or extra copies due to the physical limitation of the Teaneck Library. Mr. McCue emphasized the Library has a modest number of computer terminals, has not requested additional staff, has only submitted limited capital requests, and the funding received is allocated for materials and services.
Mr. Ostrow invited Council to visit the office space in the Library and to look at the condition of the roof. He mentioned as other local communities have expanded their libraries, future Council will have to consider expanding the physical structure of the Library for the storage of books, media, and staff. He stated the Library Board is concerned about the residents and others who look at the Library as a resource of information, should funding be reduced.
C. Gussen asked Mr. McCue to elaborate on the cost per loan. Mr. McCue reported the cost per circulation in Teaneck is less than $4 per loan. C. Gussen noted that the cost of circulation in other libraries is up to $40 per loan and thanked Mr. McCue and the Board for keeping the costs down.
C. Kates questioned whether cooperative purchasing is conducted through BCCLS. Mr. McCue explained that since the membership is so wide spread within Bergen County and outside of the County, purchasing is a local decision. C. Kates emphasized the importance of recognizing the Library's lean operation and it being a common meeting place.
Mr. Ostrow reminded Council that the Library auditorium is used for meetings and events and its materials cater to all nationalities and faiths.
C. Feit asked if there has been a decline in the need to purchase books and periodicals. Mr. McCue responded that 40% of the Library's collection is comprised of media and the use of large print books is under 1% as competing technology has caused the decline of print over media. Mr. McCue stated the Library has the longest book loan periods, responds to all tastes, reading levels and interest levels, promotes reading, especially among younger generations, and audiobooks are also part of the media collection. Mr. McCue informed Council that every Thursday the Library delivers materials to homebound residents.
C. Feit requested clarification on the Township's spending relationship with the Library. Mrs. Fall explained that once Council approves the appropriation of funds the Library is independent. She stated the Library has employees independent from the Township who report directly to Mr. McCue, not her, but the Library operates as a collaborative department of the Township. She further explained that the Library Board approves a bill list for her to approve, the Township processes the payroll for the Library employees, and they work together on personnel matters. Mr. McCue expressed his appreciation for the services the Township provides and the good relationship he has with the Manager. Mrs. Fall recognized Ms. Weilee Liu, the Technology Librarian, who created and helps maintain the Township website.
Mayor Katz asked how often reference books are attached. Mr. McCue responded that many reference materials have gone online, such as the Morningstar, and the purchases include the World Book and New Education Encyclopedia Judaica. He said that reference materials is a budget item that has not increased, especially since people want to take materials home.
Mr. McCue reported the Library auditorium rules and regulations were recently revised to charge a $25 fee and reduce the number of meetings held as the parking lot cannot accommodate the attendees. Mayor Katz questioned why copier revenue was less than initially projected. Mr. McCue stated that the copier business in general has plummeted, especially with the advent of the Internet.
C. Kates made a motion to fund the Library at the 2007 requested amount, which was seconded by C. Gussen.
C. Feit questioned the $14,000 requested for technical processing. Mr. McCue responded that this amount is for the purchase of books through a wholesaler who is responsible for cover protection and placement of security tags, which would otherwise have to be done in-house, however, when the Library acquires unprocessed best sellers, they are processed in-house to get them out for their release date.
C. Feit inquired about funding conferences. Mr. McCue explained that the head of the Children's Department attends conferences of the National Library Association and serves on various committees. Mr. McCue said that conferences are generally conducted locally or within the state for the enrichment of the librarians and clerical staff. C. Feit recommended that in order to maintain consistency with the reductions in conferences for the other departments, the funding for the Libraries conferences should be limited within the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. C. Kates stated that current commitments may make it difficult to limit the conferences in 2007. However, Mr. McCue advised that he would comply as best as possible.
The consensus among Council was to fund the original Library budget request.
Mrs. Fall advised Council that the Municipal budget has to be introduced by March 12th and would like to introduce the budget at the March 6th regular meeting, which provides the auditor with time for review.
C. Gussen asked if a member could vote by proxy if the person could not attend the meeting. Mrs. Fall responded that was a question that would need to be referred to Mr. Turitz.
Mrs. Fall explained the 4% municipal tax rate CAP will not affect calendar year 2007 budgets. With respect to the Extraordinary Aid application, if received, State aid would have to be applied to decrease any proposed property tax increase, not to add to purchase anything new. The last award was 4 years ago for $50,000. Mrs. Fall stated that the Township's debt service increase, the unique circumstance involving the impact of the revaluation, and the emergency bond to fund the revaluation, may increase the potential of receiving the aid and encouraged Council to authorize the preparation of the application which is due on March 22nd. Mayor Katz recommended sending a follow-up letter to the District 37 legislators requesting their support.
Mrs. Fall explained that by submitting this application, the Council cannot finally adopt the budget which will affect the finalization of the tax rate and there will be a loss of interest revenue. It will be hard to prove a fiscal need if the there is an increase in staff. She recommended requesting $1.2 million which is two pennies on the tax rate. C. Gussen asked if the amount requested affects the decision to award assistance. Mrs. Fall responded the awarding of funding is a qualitative decision made by the State.
DM. Parker noted that residents are used to getting their bills late because the Township waits for State aid figures. C. Kates requested that Mrs. Fall obtain letters of support from the legislators to attach to the application.
Mrs. Fall summarized that based on the discussions through February 1st, if there are no additional changes, the appropriations increase by 6.85% instead of the initially proposed 8.42%.
C. Gussen asked if the budget can incorporate the sewer usage fee revenue. Mrs. Fall indicated that Council could request State permission to incorporate the fee as a miscellaneous anticipated revenue, but there is the possibility of the fee being challenged and recommended the best case scenario is to receive the funds as unanticipated revenues. Council agreed.
C. Gussen asked if the cell tower revenue is included in the budget. Mrs. Fall stated no agreement is in place, but Council can request the State to include it as miscellaneous anticipated revenue, if all paperwork is in place prior to budget adoption.
C. Kates stated that residents should be informed that Council has been able to reduce the budget. Mayor Katz requested that a press release be issued stating the proposed budget, the reduced budget, the number of meetings held, and that staff and services maintained.
ITEMS HELD FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION:
Council proceeded to review the items held for further discussion from previous budget meetings:
Other Expense Budget
090 - Township Council
Mgmt Study Reviews - removed 1/18 - discussed again 2/1/07
Manager’s Report - web only.
125 - MIS
Fire Department Tablet PC
310 Police Department
2031 Equipment - 6 Police Cars
Reduce residential Street Sweeping
by 50% from every week to every other week effective 7/1.
4430 Other Parts
480 Public Works
5410 Contract Services
Reduce to 2006 Appropriation
Held for further discussion with Board of Trustees
737 Contribution to TEDC
-reduce to 1 Farmer’s Market - 2006 level of 1 not 2 as proposed.
TOTAL POTENTIAL REDUCTION
ACCOUNT 90: Mrs. Fall advised Council that there will be an additional election next year as the Presidential Primary has been moved to February and to date we have not been advised whether the State or County will pay for it in 2008. To ensure funds are available in the event the Township has to absorb the expense, she recommended leaving $20,000 of the $60,000 reduction in the Council budget since the figures have not been quantified. If the funding is not needed for election expenses, Council could then have funds for a possible other project. Council concurred.
ACCOUNT 100: Mrs. Fall informed Council that the Manager's Report is now coordinated in-house, could be posted as a web document only, and requested $2000 to provide limited printed copies using a Staples-like printing service. C. Kates requested that a story be included of what it took to put the 2007 budget together. Council concurred.
ACCOUNT 310: C. Gussen requested that Council hold off the purchase of the police cars and raised a request from a resident regarding the purchase of a hybrid vehicle. The consensus of the majority of Council was to proceed with the purchase as proposed in the budget and a resolution authorizing the purchase of 6 police vehicles will be listed on the February 20th Consent Agenda.
ACCOUNT 480: Mrs. Fall reported to Council that one of the requirements of being a Tree City USA was to spend 2 cents per capita on purchasing trees. C. Gussen asked about trees planted for replacements. Mrs. Fall responded that an overwhelming majority of trees planted are to replace dead trees or trees damaged from storms. C. Gussen inquired if residents can plant trees in the right-of-way. Mrs. Fall confirmed permission is required because there are designated species approved for planting in the right-of-way. Council requested to promote a sponsorship program for planting trees with permission in the right-of-way. Mrs. Fall stated this would require the evaluation of the impact on staff and will list for discussion at a future workshop. C. Kates requested that the sponsorship for purchasing artificial turf be also listed for discussion. Mayor Katz asked if the Township can advise houses of worship and all tax exempt properties of items not provided in the budget. Mrs. Fall responded that Council must discuss this with Mr. Turitz because of the legal issues, including the appearance of active solicitation. Council agreed to leave $10,000 in tree planting. This amount along with the funds we spend for salary and wages for the employees to maintain the trees should continue to qualify us for Tree City USA status.
ACCOUNT 737: Council decided to reduce the Farmer's Market by $2400 as the TEDC is pursuing a grant to fund a second Farmer's Market.
SALARY AND WAGES:
Mrs. Fall recommended to leave funding for the Deputy Manager position if Council wishes to move forward with filling the position. The issue of the Municipal Clerk vacancy will be discussed at the February 20th meeting. C. Gussen asked if $50,000 can be budgeted with the provision of having the Deputy Manager start on July 1st. DM. Parker mentioned the range begins at $50,000 and asked Mrs. Fall where would the person fall in the salary range. Mrs. Fall recommended hiring someone in the middle of the range to get an experienced professional. Council agreed to leave in $75,000, thereby reducing the level by $25,000.
Council proceeded to review the items held for discussion in the Capital budget:
1. Station Uniform Replacement - State Required
2. FHQ - Install Fire Alarm System
1. Six New Vehicle Mounted Radar Units
2. 1 Additional New Vehicle Mounted Radar Unit
1. Streets and Roads and Curbs
A. 2007 Annual Road Resurfacing/Curb Program ($700,000) & Quigley Court Work ($60,000)
2. Outside Engineering/Consultants
A. Annual Road/ Curb Program
B. BC Com. Development Resurface Projects
C. State Aid Project **- Fycke Lane Section 2
D. Rodda Center - Exterior Finish Evaluation - confirmed deleted at 2/15/07 meeting
3. Replace 1985 Packer - 5% downpayment
4. Manhole Repairs - Various
5. (2) Munimeters for State Street Parking Lots
1. Rodda Center - Smoke Detector Upgrades
2 Library & Municipal Bldg. - HVAC Upgrades 5% Downpayment
3. Municipal Buildings - Upgrades as Needed
Parks and Recreation
1. BC Open Space Projects -Terhune Park Tennis Court and Hawthorne Park Pool Area Upgrade*
2. Votee Park Inground Pool - Upgrade required for leaks. Replace turnstile.
3. Coolidge Park - Fencing and Curbing - Safety
4. Upgrade/Replace Equipment - MultiYear Program*
Approved Additions to CIF from 2/15/07 meeting
PARKS AND RECREATION: Mrs. Fall reminded Council that one item held for discussion was whether to use MOST funds as a match for the Bergen County Open Space Projects as well was for the required replacement of the playground equipment. C. Kates emphasized that the MOST fund is to supplement, not substitute. Mrs. Fall advised that MOST funds can be used for a handicap accessible playground. There was no consensus among Council to use MOST funds for the grant match or replacement program. Council requested that the MOST November 1, 2006 recommendations be recirculated. Council will further consider the handicap accessible playground issue using MOST funds.
POLICE: Mrs. Fall informed Council that to outfit all police vehicle with mounted radar units, one additional unit would have to be purchased at a cost of an extra $1500. Council concurred with increasing the purchase of 6 radar units to 7. C. Feit asked why the ID printer is not a capital item. Mrs. Fall explained that the printer is approximately 3 1/2 years old and capital items need a shelf life of at least 5 years. Mayor Katz asked Council to add $2000 for auxiliary police. Council agreed to $1400.
Before finalizing the budget Mrs. Fall asked Council to verify that they did not wish to add any salary and wage items that were not recommended, pursuant to her 12/29/06 memo. Council concurred.
DM. Parker requested that a lieutenant's position be funded to promote diversity within the ranks of the Police Department. Mrs. Fall advised Council that the funding of an additional lieutenant's position costs $109,000 plus longevity. She discussed another option was to upgrade an existing sergeant's position at an extra cost of approximately $10,000. She stated that there is no open lieutenant's position at this time; the ordinance allows for up to 10 and there are currently 8. C. Gussen inquired about the Chief's position on this matter. Mrs. Fall reported that Chief has indicated that an additional lieutenant is not needed and if funds are to be allocated, they should be used to increase patrol. DM. Parker stressed the need to promote diversity in the Police Department. C. Gussen stated that a lieutenant is not a senior level position. C. Kates mentioned that it seems Council would be doing something based on the racial attributes of the person who is first on the promotional list. Mayor Katz asked if there were any comments from the Affirmative Action Advisory Board. Mrs. Fall responded that none were sought. DM. Parker said 2 members agree with funding the position, but there was not a consideration by the full Board. C. Feit asked if funding this position was required by the DOP. Mrs. Fall responded no. C. Gussen stated this issue is specific for a specific individual. Mrs. Fall reiterated that the Township has a long standing Affirmative Action policy. C. Gussen expressed his concern about potential legal action. Mrs. Fall indicated she would recirculate the Affirmative Action policy. She explained that the DOP list is objective based on competitive testing and the operation of the Township gives everyone the best equal opportunity to succeed. C. Feit indicated the need to prioritize issues affecting the Township as a whole. C. Kates and Mayor Katz were not supportive of the proposal. C. Honis was supportive. There was no majority of Council who wished to fund the additional lieutenant's position.
Mrs. Fall stated she will prepare the budget for introduction on March 6th. Final figures with the changes tonight and other interim changes will be circulated.
On a motion made, seconded and unanimously carried, the meeting was adjourned at 8:53 P.M.
HELENE V. FALL, MPA, CPM, MUNICIPAL MANAGER