February 2, 2012 - Minutes - Budget Session - Home

February 2, 2012 - Minutes - Budget Session

Date: February 2, 2012
Time: 8:00 PM

DISTRIBUTED:        3/27/12                        APPROVED:           4/3/12

 

MINUTES OF THE BUDGET MEETING OF

THE TEANECK TOWNSHIP COUNCIL CHAMBERS

HELD IN THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING COUNCIL CHAMBERS ON

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012

 

Mayor Hameeduddin called the Open Session Meeting of the Teaneck Township Council to order at 7:12 p.m. and asked all those present to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

ROLL CALL

 

Present:           C. Parker, C. Stern, DM. Gussen C. Honis, C. Katz, C. Toffler, Mayor Hameeduddin.

 

Absent:            None.

 

Also Present:   W. Rupp – Ferrara, Turiz, Harraka & Goldberg Esqs.; W. Broughton, Township Manager; J. Evelina, Township Clerk; I. Abbasi, Executive Assistant.

 

MAYOR’S ANNOUNCEMENT

Adequate notice of this meeting has been provided by Resolution 28-12, setting the 2012 meeting dates, sending a copy to THE RECORD and THE JEWISH STANDARD, 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.

 

MEETING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FOR GOOD AND WELFARE OR PUBLIC INPUT ON ANY MATTERS ON THIS AGENDA

 

Mayor Hameeduddin inquired whether any member of the Council had any comments prior to opening the meeting to any comments from the public.

 

No member of Council commented.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin declared that any member of the public who wished to be heard, come forward and state their names for the record.  Comments were limited to five minutes per person.

 

Leslie McKeon, Teaneck – Spoke about combined services with other towns; addressed the Township’s dependability on property taxes; cited several residents not receiving their permits and/or having their requests addressed in a timely manner; and opposed the current municipal building operation schedule.

 

Alex Rashin, Teaneck – referenced notes he sent to the Mayor and C. Katz regarding budget increases; discussed the increase in the overtime budget and recommended reduction in same; questioned police staffing numbers and requested clarification on dispatch hiring; and also noted generous amount budgeted for tree trimming and tree planting.    

 

Charles Powers, Teaneck – hoped the Auditor would clarify revenue figures; referenced the Auditor’s report from 2010; questioned the Township’s financial state; discussed expenditures; and inquired about actions taken by the Auditor since the last report in July 2011.

 

There being no further persons who wished to speak, Mayor Hameeduddin declared that the public comment portion of the meeting was closed.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin inquired whether any member of the Council or the Manager wished to respond to the public comments.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin discussed shared services and combined purchasing indicating that the Township Manager would respond to this topic.  

 

Mr. Broughton discussed purchasing items through State contract and the Township’s collaborative efforts with other municipalities to purchase products; and referenced his on-going work with the Riverside Co-Operative Purchasing Agreement.

 

C. Toffler advised that the Zoning Sub-Committee has not met in recent months and requested the subcommittee meet to discuss other possibilities for commerce in the Township.  She also expressed her opinion regarding the four-day work week, alleging that residents were under the impression that the four-day work week was a furlough program; hoped Mr. Garbarini heard Mr. Powers’ statement.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin did not believe that anyone on Council had been approached by a resident or knew of a resident who thought the four-day work week was a furlough program.

 

C. Parker agreed with the Mayor’s assertion but expressed that the public knew her stance on the four-day work week.

 

DM. Gussen addressed Dr. Rashin’s issue regarding dispatcher work schedules; appreciated Mr. Rashin’s comments; cited gas and diesel accounts, and questioned if the Manager had the requested gasoline and diesel back-up.

 

Mr. Broughton responded that he did indeed have back-up for the gas and diesel account, and reminded Council that same was distributed this evening prior to the Council Meeting.  He also added that when the original plan was created to consolidate dispatch in 2008, there were 99 fire fighters in the Teaneck Fire Department, and currently the Department is down to 91 fire fighters, which covered the savings realized instead of consolidating dispatch with Englewood.

 

DM. Gussen felt that there could be further savings regarding the Fire Department’s staffing.

 

BUDGET DISCUSSION

 

  1. Presentation – Auditor.

 

Paul Garbarini addressed questions regarding corrective action plans and findings; complimented the Township on having their budget meetings early; discussed tax appeals and contingency plans for paying appeal decisions; discussed the budget and the expenditures included; and spoke about a plan being developed with the Manager to assure the Township is not left without a second option in case a future CFO should leave. 

 

The Township Manager noted that the Auditor prepares the physical budget document that goes to the State of New Jersey and advised that the numbers reflected in the budget are currently being confirmed.

 

Mr. Garbarini added that the auditor’s responsibility includes making sure that the budget is correct for the purposes of audit.

 

DM. Gussen noted that over the past several weeks, there was a concern raised by a resident over revenue gap with appeals, and he requested that Mr. Garbarini speak to the handling of said appeals.

 

Paul Garbarini noted different properties are assessed differently based on whether or not they are residential or commercial; spoke about how tax appeals can be handled in the budget; and shared that property tax appeals are not unique to Teaneck, Bergen County or the United States.  Mr. Garbarini spoke about the affect of tax appeals on residents in the top tier of property taxes, the new Local Finance Notice permitting municipalities to issue property tax credits instead of a refund to successful appeals; and expressed that the Township’s handling of 2011 property tax appeals was perfect.

 

  1. Presentation – Insurance.

 

Wayne Dietz, President of D & H Alternative Risk Solutions Inc. discussed the Township’s success story and how it became a model for municipal insurance.  He noted that the Township has achieved this by being proactive and re-establishing committees, and the Township’s atmosphere becoming proactive and not reactive.

 

Paul Messerschmidt referenced a hand out, detailing the Township’s new vision; spoke about the reduction on worker’s compensation claims, former practices, contracts undertaken without liability considerations, positive results as a result of litigation settlements and the Township’s threshold.

 

DM. Gussen questioned what, if anything, the Township was uninsured for during the storms.

Paul Messerschmidt advised that the Township is not insured for overtime hours and fuel costs, as no insurance could be provided for same.

 

DM. Gussen questioned employment issues associated with coverage.

 

Paul Messerschmidt mentioned an ongoing litigation and suggested it be discussed at another time.

 

DM. Gussen suggested this be discussed during closed session.

 

C. Toffler questioned why there was a $50,000 increase under workers’ compensation.

 

Mr. Dietz advised that the actual cost of purchasing the insurance is down about three percent (3%); stated that the Township experienced a tragic loss last year; explained that the loss for the foreseeable future will have a set cost going to forward for survivors, etc; and suggested that the Township budget separately for such increase, knowing the cost would continue over the next eight (8) to ten (10) years.

 

DM. Gussen clarified the tragic loss discussed was referring to the late PO Abraham and his worker compensation claim.

 

C. Parker questioned how long the obligation was per event.

 

Mr. Dietz advised that the period in question is until the child has reached maturity or until the spouse were to remarry.

 

Mr. Messerschmidt spoke about departments within the Township submitting quarterly self- inspection reports to the Township Manager and Human Resource Director.  He further advised of a DPW Supervisor who was proactive with the handling and preparation for recent storms.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin asked if there was anything else the Township could look at to continue success.

 

Mr. Messerschmidt noted a lot of the refining which is happening within the safety committee environment including equipment expense.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin inquired about what possible insurance issues would arise from having the Township DPW employees be trained by PSE&G to cut our wires and trees.

 

DM. Gussen inquired if D&H has looked at the possible impact of having an accredited police department.  

 

Mr. Messerschmidt noted the accreditation program is there to protect the department and officers when there are claims against them such as false arrests.  Currently, he stated that the Township’s police department does not have many of such claims.

 

C. Toffler agreed that things are much better for the Township; discussed the employee manual and Human Resource Director; and questioned the outcome if protocol was not allegedly adhered to.

 

Mr. Messerschmidt responded that the active manuals currently in place are being followed and gives a defense because of consistent use; one case he referenced was defensible and the other was still in the discovery portion.  He also referenced the constant communication with the Manager and Human Resources Director and the assistance they have given D&H for their case work.

 

C. Toffler mentioned a current claim wherein she believed the employee manual was not followed.

 

  1. Review – Library Budget.

 

Mr. Broughton noted that Mr. McCue was not able to be present this evening.

 

C. Katz requested a report detailing the amount of money spent in 2011 on reference books.  [“Already provided by Manager on 3/20/12” – Jaime]

 

DM. Gussen noted the reference books are not lended items; DM Gussen noted that he served on the Library Board, and informed that the Teaneck Library was the most active library in the BCCLS system; discussed the lending volume or the library; expressed comfort with the Library’s budget and way in which funds are spent; expressed opposition to trimming any money from the library’s budget but was not willing to add funding until the budget was below a zero-percent increase.

 

C. Parker echoed DM. Gussen’s statement and noted that she also served on the Library Board.  She added that Library Director, Mr. McCue, keeps the administration costs lean, and she agreed not to touch the Library Budget.

 

  1. Review – Council Budget.

 

C. Toffler questioned why $10,500 was moved to the Manager‘s budget, and DM. Gussen questioned the $10, 500 and $1,500 costs.

 

Township Manager responded that this item was budgeted for the website in 2011.  The money was encumbered in 2011 and was not needed in 2012.  The only item needed in 2012 was $1,500 for the maintenance of the Township’s website, as the $10,500 was solely for the establishment of the site.

 

C. Katz asked about the difference between the 2045 line item for web site and 1101 line item for the web site.

 

Mr. Broughton responded 2045 is for the maintenance of the website, and 1101 is for the  internet and web hosting.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin asked  about the dollar amount provided to Teaneck Comes Together, and Mr. Broughton responded, “$26,500”.  He also informed that these funds are located in a

special gift account that is not included in the budget.

 

  1. Review – Township Manager’s Budget.

 

DM. Gussen asked Mr. Broughton for more information regarding account item 2452.

 

Mr. Broughton responded that the cost for an inventory control system is $20,000.  He spoke about the possibility that Edmunds’ software package may include an inventory tracking system that can produce a similar product.

 

C. Katz asked about watches being moved to the Human Resources budget; spoke about the cost of a $450 watch being small token, yet expensive; suggested maybe for a more appropriate/meaningful appreciation as in the form of a plaque, I-Pod;  C. Katz suggested having a philosophical meeting to further discuss some creative/alternate options.

 

C. Toffler questioned whether or not we could purchase the employee anniversary watch in Teaneck.

 

DM. Gussen requested the price of each employee watch.

 

C. Katz referenced back-up material and noted for the record that the cost of the watch was $425.

 

Mr. Broughton noted the cost behind the price of reflecting its quality of design, but believed that the cost of the watch was closer to $300.  He informed Council that he would double check the cost of the watch.

 

Township Manager briefly discussed the additional funds budgeted for a receptionist which will allow the Township Clerk’s existing staff to assist the Clerk.

 

C. Parker suggested that a Deputy Clerk be hired and not a receptionist.

 

DM. Gussen requested the Subcommittee meet to discuss the Township Clerk’s Office prior to the budget being adopted.

 

  1. Review – Township Clerk’s Budget.

 

Ms. Evelina advised Council that she is proposing a ten percent increase to her Elections Budget as a result of the new requirement that literature be published in not just English and Spanish but the Korean language.  She informed Council that prior to her moving forward with proposed increases, she consulted with County officials to request a firm anticipated percentage increase.  At that time, the County proposed that she request an additional ten percent but advised that the County was not prepared to put anything in writing, as per the Clerk’s request, as at this time, there is no way to know the amount of associated costs.

 

DM. Gussen questioned who the printer was for the Primary Election ballots, and the Clerk informed that the Primary Election materials are provided by the County, and as such, the printer is a contractor of their choice.  She went on to say that in cases when the Township incurs costs associated with the elections wherein the County provides materials, the County sends an invoice to the Clerk for the remittance of payment.

 

DM. Gussen questioned the seemingly high increase in the Township Clerk’s budget, and

C. Parker questioned the costs for Municipal Election vs. Primary Election.

 

Ms. Evelina reminded DM. Gussen that the budget in 2011 did not include a Municipal Election, and as a result, there is what seems like a dramatic increase.  Ms. Evelina responded to C. Parker that the Municipal Election is solely the fiduciary responsibility of the Township whereas, the Primary Election costs reflected are to reimburse the County for materials that are provided to her Department to prepare for the Primary.  As such, the costs associated with Non-Partisan Municipal Elections are substantially greater than that of Primary Elections.

 

Ms. Evelina informed Council of the communications that she received from certain Chairpersons serving on Advisory Boards.  She further informed that the total monetary amount substantially exceeds what was allocated in preceding years.

 

Mr. Broughton informed Council that the Chairpersons’ requests were provided to the Manager by the Clerk; however, he did not provide for their requests in the budget.

 

Mr. Broughton and Ms. Evelina will confirm all numbers entered in the Clerk’s Elections budget with the new CFO and report back to Council.

 

C. Katz asked when the most recent street maps were copied, and Ms. Evelina responded that the street, zoning and election district maps are replenished annually if the Clerk anticipates a low surplus.  He then requested that the Clerk bring back the colored and foldable maps of the Township from the late 1980’s.  Ms. Evelina responded that although many employees have expressed appreciation for these maps, the reason for their discontinuance was the costs associated.  She informed that the small amount of funding provided for in the budget for the copying of various maps in large quantities is for large and black and white maps.  She will contact the Purchasing Agent to obtain a cost to bring back the colored and foldable maps and report back to Council.

 

Ms. Evelina advised Council of her initiative to make Teaneck more innovative ie. bringing paperless meetings to Teaneck which led her to propose IQM2’s services to the Township Council, after extensive research.  Ms. Evelina advised that IQM2 is a national software company which specializes in transitioning agencies into the world of technology by providing the Clerk with a monthly service through their internet-based company.  The company does not require a contract, and the service can be cancelled at anytime.  The company provides unlimited users for the Clerk’s convenience.  The company also offers extensive training.  The purpose is to go paperless with meetings when the Council will be provided with training, user names and passwords to access the agenda on Thursdays and could log on anytime thereafter where they will see flagged items that represent updates.  The Council will be able to access the software from any location and from various equipment, ie. ipod, ipad, desktop or laptop.  Ms. Evelina will be able to train the Department Heads to begin preparing their own items in connection with their Departments to forward to Ms. Evelina through IQM2’s site.  The Manager can approve all items, and the agenda preparation process will be more efficient, effective and make training easier for her staff.  The software can also be used to post items which should be readily accessible on the Township website without the issue of taking up any space, ie. budgets, minutes, agendas, ordinances, resolutions, etc.  There would be no need for these items to be removed, ultimately decreasing the amount of OPRA Requests received, as everything would be easily accessible to the public.  Ms. Evelina advised Council that the Manager is exploring the purchase of tablets, and Mr. Broughton explained that the additional costs reflected in the Clerk’s new software budget is for this purpose.

 

C. Parker questioned what other municipalities are currently using the software.  Ms. Evelina responded that the company is national, and the company’s clientele includes but is not limited to municipal, county, state and federal agencies and bureaus.  She stated that with respect to Bergen County municipalities, it was her understanding during her conversations with the company that Hackensack is in the process of signing a contract, and Leonia is currently on Board.

 

DM. Gussen requested obtaining information from a town that has been using this program for a year or two so as to figure its cost-effectiveness.  Ms. Evelina will provide the Council with literature and a client list for Council’s referral.  She will also reach out to the Leonia Clerk and report back to Council.

 

C. Parker felt the Township budget should not exceed more than what had been budgeted last year, indicating that last year was an exception due to severe weather conditions.

 

DM. Gussen stated that in his experience, overtime budgets do get spent.

 

Mr. Broughton indicated that this is not a fact.  He went on to say that he monitors everyone’s overtime budget. He further stated that most overtime is used by the Police Department, the Department of Public Works and the Fire Department.  The issue with the Fire Department is the structuring.  Until the firefighters are replaced with dispatchers, there is a need for overtime. 

 

C. Katz questioned why the Township reduced Parking Enforcement Officers from a strength of five to two and questioned whether or not it has to be done through ordinance.

 

C. Stern advised that the Manager has the authority to hire or reduce the number of Parking Enforcement Officers. 

 

Mr. Broughton indicated that we have one full-time Parking Enforcer and one part timer, and the Township is trying to hire an additional part timer.  He stated that it is difficult to keep the part time parking enforcement officers.

 

C. Katz questioned how many sworn officers are employed by the Township.

 

Mr. Broughton stated that there are 96 sworn officers, with the four who have just been hired, and gave a brief explanation of the table of organization.

 

C. Katz wants to see the Township fill Parking Enforcement Officer positions and not leave it at two.

 

DM. Gussen stated that it is very difficult to fill and retain a part time position for the Parking Enforcement Officers.

 

C. Katz inquired what the difference was between line items 3110 and 3160 on the printing budgets.

 

Township Manager gave an explanation as to the difference in the two line items.

 

C. Katz questioned whether or not the toilet facilities in the park are being utilized, in that it costs $12,000.00 per year to maintain.

 

DM. Gussen indicated that the facilities are in fact being utilized and suggested the possibility of installing an additional facility.

 

Mayor Hameeduddin indicated that all items would not be able to be addressed at this meeting, and therefore suggested that the budget be wrapped up on the meeting of the 21st.

 

C. Stern requested clarification of the authorized strength of the Police Department and Fire Department on the table of authorization.

 

Mr. Broughton informed Council that he would produce the numbers for them.

 

DM. Gussen asked for clarification on the difference in price of gasoline and diesel usage based on which department used it and asked for the per gallon price.

 

The Township Manager explained that the average was produced by budgeting for each department.  The number itself is not significant and can be removed.

 

DM. Gussen requested the number of the per gallon estimate that was used for the 2012 budget.

 

The Manager stated that he would have the numbers for Council in the morning.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

Councilmember C. Sternmoved to adjourn at 9:16 p.m.  Seconded by Councilmember

C. Parker

 

Roll Call.

 

In Favor:         C. Parker, C. Stern, DM. Gussen, C. Honis, C. Katz, C. Toffler,

                        Mayor Hameeduddin.

 

Opposed:         None.             

 

Absent:            None.