BOROUGH OF HADDON HEIGHTS
Friday, July 7, 2017
Governing Body Meeting Minutes
Council President Griffith called the meeting to Order at 7:00 p.m. She then read the following statement:
“In accordance with Section 5 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975, notice of this meeting was posted on the bulletin board designed for that purpose and notice was transmitted to the official newspapers of the Borough on July 5, 2017.”
Council President Griffith asked the Clerk for the roll call.
Under roll call, Council President Susan Griffith, Councilwomen Kathy Lange, Jackie Valvardi, and Councilman Bryan Schroeder and Councilman Rick DiRenzo. Solicitor Albert Olizi, Jr., Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso were also present. Mayor Merryfield was excused.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND MOMENT OF SILENCE:
All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.
Councilman DiRenzo said he would like to address a point of order. He then read a statement that summarized his position that this meeting was insufficiently noticed to the official newspapers within the required 48 hr. notice to the public per the Open Public Meetings Act specifically N.J.S.A. 10:4-8d. He added that just one newspaper was noticed and then cited a legal case in which a judge found in favor of the plaintiff against a municipality for a similar charge. A copy of Councilman DiRenzo’s statement is attached to these minutes.
Discussion ensued with Solicitor Olizi suggesting Council take a vote on whether the meeting should continue. Council President Griffith made a motion to move forward with the meeting, Councilwoman Valvardi seconded. Upon a roll call vote, all members present voted to continue the meeting with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who abstained citing that the meeting was “illegal.”
Council President Griffith called for Public Comment on Caucus and Agenda item only.
John Schmidt, Gloucester City – Mr. Schmidt cited legal cases regarding the Open Public Meetings Act, specifically, the requirement of providing adequate notice to the official publications. He summarized his opinion that the meetings that were held in those cases were in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. He argued that we did not notice both publications and that we did not provide for adequate time for the papers to publish 48 hours in advance of the meeting. He asked the governing body to reconsider their decision to continue the meeting.
Solicitor Olizi asked Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso if she wanted to address the issue. Santosusso stated that she believed the borough was not in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act as electronic transmission of the Notice of the Special Meeting was sent to both official publications 48 hours in advance of the meeting. She said that on July 5th when it was determined that there was no quorum and that the meeting could not be held, Council decided to hold a special meeting 48 hrs. later due to the fact that several contractors/vendors which included 4th of July participants and program instructors would not be paid timely. She added that the only Agenda item being considered for the Special meeting is the payment of Bills and Claims for the first half of July. Discussion ensued between Councilman DiRenzo and Santosusso with Olizi stating that Council has decided to move on with the meeting.
A motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Councilwoman Valvardi , seconded by Councilman Schroeder. All members present were in favor.
Resolution 2017:142: Resolution Authorizing the Payment of Bills and Claims for the First Half of July
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:142 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilman Schroeder. Upon a roll call vote, all members present voted in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who abstained citing the meeting is illegal and Councilwomen Valvardi and Griffith who abstained from the Horizon Blue Cross payments.
Council President Griffith called for Public Comment on any matter.
John Schmidt, Gloucester City, NJ – Mr. Schmidt asked Council if they were aware of the publication schedule of the Courier Post. He cited the Open Public Meetings Act again saying that the intent of the law was to publish in newspapers 48 hours in advance of the meeting. Discussion ensued between Solicitor Olizi and Mr. Schmidt. Olizi said that he was aware that Mr. Schmidt’s position is to void this meeting saying that our position is on record and that his is as well.
Councilman DiRenzo asked if anyone contacted the CFO on the 5th to see if a meeting had to be scheduled. Griffith responded and discussion ensued amongst Councilmembers and Solicitor. DiRenzo then suggested that we pass a resolution allowing vendors/contractors to be paid if there is no quorum at a meeting in which the bills and claims would be approved. Discussion continued as to the issues regarding paying the program instructors or independent contractors and Mr. Schmidt asked whether the meeting could have been held on a Saturday or any day the following week. Council President Griffith said that Council’s concern was to make sure that we paid the contractors from the 4th of July and the program instructors. Mr. Olizi reiterated that the point was to try to pay the vendors/contractors in a timely manner. Mr. Schmidt asked that Council follow the Open Public Meetings Act.
Seeing no further movement, a motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Councilwoman Valvardi and was seconded by Councilman Schroeder. All members were in favor.
A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilwoman Lange. All members were in favor.
Kelly Santosusso, RMC