BOROUGH OF HADDON HEIGHTS
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Governing Body Meeting Minutes
Mayor Merryfield called the meeting to Order at 7:00 p.m. He 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 provided by Resolution adopted January 7, 2017.”
Mayor Merryfield asked the Clerk for the roll call.
Under roll call, Council President Susan Griffith and Councilwomen Kathy Lange and Jackie Valvardi were present as well as Councilmen Stephen Berryhill, Rick DiRenzo and Bryan Schroeder. Solicitor Albert Olizi, Jr., Deputy Borough Clerk Katie Compton and Administrative Assistant Marian Hauser were also present. Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso was absent.
Councilwoman Valvardi stated that she attended the Audit Exit Conference on May 19, 2017 with CFO Christie Ehret, Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso, and Solicitor Olizi. Valvardi described the audit process and explained that a ‘Finding’ is a significant deficiency or instance on non-compliance found by the auditors. She announced that the Borough of Haddon Heights had ZERO findings for 2016. Valvardi thanked Santosusso and Ehret for a job well done.
Deputy Clerk Compton passed around the Audit Affidavit for Council’s signatures.
Shared Service with County for Vacant Properties
Councilman Berryhill announced that Bob Harris and Ralph Condo from the Camden County Improvement Authority are present to speak about the County’s Vacant Property Program. Condo began by congratulating Council on have zero findings in the 2016 Audit. He went on to explain how the Camden County’s Shared Service program is run by the company Community Champions. He explained that the properties targeted are not only the ones that are vacant or abandoned, but also all properties going into foreclosure, properties with property maintenance issues, and properties with major code violations. The recommended fee would be $500 twice a year charged to the bank on the property: $300 goes to the Borough, $100 goes to the County, and the remaining $100 goes to Community Champions. There are currently 11 towns involved in this shared service and they expect to have five (5) more join by the end of the month; seven (7) additional towns are in the beginning process of joining. Towns currently involved include: Gloucester Township, Winslow, Pennsauken, Runnemede, Berlin, Woodlynne, Stratford, Haddonfield, Merchantville and more.
Condo explained that if the Borough is interested in this service, there would need to be an ordinance adopted that would be in line with the contract.
Solicitor Olizi distributed a sample ordinance to Council members for review.
Councilman Berryhill expressed his interest in the Shared Service as it will address the issues related to vacant properties that we cannot do in-house due to lack of resources.
Discussion ensued between Councilman DiRenzo, Solicitor Olizi and Ralph Condo regarding the type of Borough account that these funds could be deposited into.
Quotes for July 4th After Parade Party
Council President Griffith explained that we have solicited quotes for the 4th of July after Parade Party from four (4) different companies. We have received one response back from Circus Time Amusements in the amount of $2,350. This includes two (2) face painters, two (2) bounce houses, and one (1) DJ. This is more than what was budgeted for this year but Griffith reminded all that we saved a significant amount of money in the Civic Events budget this year due to the cancellation of the trolley because of inclement weather for Down by the Station Day.
With no further caucus items to address, Mayor Merryfield concluded Caucus session at 7:29 p.m. announcing that the Business Session will convene downstairs at 7:30 p.m.
Mayor Merryfield called the Business Session to order at 7:30 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND MOMENT OF SILENCE:
All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.
PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION TO HADDON HEIGHTS SOCCER CLUB
Mayor Merryfield and Councilwoman Lange stepped down to present the certificate to the members of the Soccer Club that were present. Lange thanked the members for coming out even though they’re busy at fields. She said that Council has wanted to recognize HHSC ever since the Devon Avenue Lighting project began. She explained that this is a good example of what government and community collaboration can do for a town. Lange described how blessed Haddon Heights is to have very active sports organizations and programs and very involved volunteers that run them. Lange said that when she first joined Council, there was no Parks & Recreation Director. She has had the pleasure of dealing with many stakeholders from the Soccer Club including: Dan Hicks, Al Oswald, Doug Dugan, and in particular, the President of the Club, Lee Griffith. Lange said that we as Council members, have to budget for improvements over time so that the current tax payers do not take on too much of a burden. We bonded much of the cost of the field lighting so that the current residents would not be solely responsible for the percentage of tax increase of the project. She thanked thanked the Haddon Heights Soccer Club for donating $51,000 to get us started on the project. This was a substantial donation for this small group and this required board members and families to do significant fundraising. Another group that had a substantial role in this project is the Board of Education. Lange said that volunteers were important to the overall project.
Councilwoman Lange read the Certificate and Mayor Merryfield presented it to Lee Griffith, President of the Soccer Club.
Mayor Merryfield thanked the Soccer Club as the project would not have been able to be done without them. He said this recognition is well deserved.
Lee Griffith thanked Councilwoman Lange, Mayor Merryfield and all of Council. He explained that without their support, this project would not have happened. Griffith also thanked Doug Dugan as he put forth a lot of time in working with Council members as well as the other people on the Soccer Board. Drew James, Frank Ferrese, and past treasurer, Mike Cicalese also put a lot of time in crunching numbers to see if this was even a possibility. Griffith that this was something that was needed but this is just the catalyst. Other ongoing projects include an irrigation system that will be completed in the near future and planning for 2018 grant projects is underway. He said he looks forward to the future of Haddon Heights as well as the HH Soccer Club.
Doug Dugan thanked all of Council. Dugan said that he receives a lot of ‘thank you’s’ around town and said that he always responds that “Council voted on it.”
All posed for a photo for THE RETROSPECT.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment on Caucus and Agenda items only. Seeing no movement, a motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Lange. All members were in favor.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Mayor Merryfield asked for a motion to approve the Minutes of the May 16, 2017 Council meeting. A motion to approve the Minutes of the May 2, 2017 Council meeting was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members were in favor.
Councilman Schroeder reported on the items covered at the last Environmental Commission meeting – the consideration of planting extra trees that are left over from Arbor Day at a lot at Cedar and Bellmawr Avenues. Chairman Kinkler is working with the Commission and the Department of Public Works to see if this is possible. The second item is the discussion of a potential dog park at Haddon Lake Park. The third item is the implementation of an energy audit for public buildings. He said that separate meeting with a point person from the School District needs to be scheduled.
Schroeder then reported on the Shade Tree Commission. He explained that they have completed the application for the 2017 Community Stewardship Grant for $23,000 which is pending. He said we should find out if we will receive this grant by mid-July, and if received, it will be utilized for the planting of new trees to replace dead trees that the Borough needed to remove. The Department of Public Works has been in coordination with secretary and treasurer of Shade Tree and representatives from the Rotary club to plant trees that the Rotary
Club has received through grant monies.
Schroeder also reported that he attended the Heights in Progress, HIP meeting with Councilwoman Lange. Lange will report on the meeting.
Schroder explained that he had a helpful conversation via conference call with the transportation management association, Cross County Connection, regarding the Safe Route to Schools program. This would need to be implemented in coordination with the School District. The transportation management association will look at bike routes and walking paths to schools. If they are willing to implement this program, there is grant money available for work on these bike routes, curbs, intersections and signage. He plans to meet with members at the School District and will report back to Council in a few months with a plan.
Councilwoman Valvardi reported that the majority of employee evaluations have been completed. She said we are just waiting to receive them from the Zoning and Construction Office. Valvardi read a letter written by the Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso regarding Administrative Assistant, Marian Hauser. This letter was prompted after Santosusso received a phone call from a church employee commending Marian’s work as our Local Registrar on a specific marriage license. The woman wanted specific recognition to be given to Marian as she went above and beyond to correct a problem that was another town’s Registrar responsibility. Santosusso emphasized how Borough staff goes out of their way every day to help residents and customers.
Valvardi reported that she, CFO Christie Ehret, Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso and Solicitor Albert Olizi attended the 2016 Audit Exit Conference on May 19th with representatives from Bowman & Company, our auditors. She explained what is included in the annual audit covers and what a “Finding” is. A finding is a significant deficiency, material weakness or an instance of noncompliance related to financial statements that are required. She was pleased to announce the Borough had NO FINDINGS. She thanked Kelly Santosusso and Christie Ehret for a job well done.
Valvardi explained that she was unable to attend this month’s HIP meeting but Councilman Schroeder and Councilwoman Lange did attend. The Haddon Heights Business and Professional Association’s (HHBPA) meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, June 14th at 6:00 p.m. at the Village Cheese Shop.
Councilman Berryhill reported on the Shared Service Agreement with Camden County that was discussed earlier in the Caucus Session. Berryhill requested that everyone take a close look at the proposed ordinance that was distributed. He explained that although we have been trying to move forward with a similar process in-house, it is more than we can handle with such a small staff. He said that we are lucky to have fewer properties with issues than many surrounding towns.
Berryhill stated that he has had multiple residents contact him about feral cat issues in certain areas in town. He has looked into this a bit and explained that the County has a program where they trap the cats, take to a center to get fixed, and they are then released back into the community. If we are interested in implementing this service with the County in Haddon Heights, we would need to pass an ordinance.
Berryhill addressed the topic of the review of our sign ordinance. He said a number of weeks ago, he had many people contacting him about protecting these signs. Recently, he has been getting e-mails from residents that think the signs are too much and we should be enforcing our current sign ordinance. Berryhill thinks these signs are constitutionally permitted regardless of our ordinance, however, the Planning and Zoning Board plans to address this topic at their next meeting.
Berryhill also announced that he has been informed by Deputy Clerk Compton that 8 out of 20 licenses have been issued per the Hens in Heights Pilot.
Council President Griffith reported on the Haddon Heights Neighbors’ (HHN) Soiree En Blanc event held on May 20th was a big success and a lot of fun. Griffith reminded all the next HHN’s sponsored Kids Time at the Farmers Market will be on Sunday, June 18th 2017.
Griffith read the Barrington Ambulance report. A copy is attached to these minutes.
Griffith announced that tomorrow she will attend a meeting with the Police Chief and Captain, along with other representatives from the towns within our court shared service agreement. This is an annual meeting to discuss the status of the Shared Service and provides an opportunity for each town to give updates.
The 4th of July Committee meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, June 12th at Borough Hall. She will give a report on this at the next council meeting.
Councilwoman Lange gave the HIP Report. Lange explained that they are working with the Perkins Center for the Arts to sponsor a grant called Mosaic Art for Kids. HIP will be conducting events through the summer on the third Saturday of June and July, called Summer Nights Heights. These events will occur from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. without any street closures. The first event will be on June 17th. This event’s theme is: Schools Out! There will be an emphasis on activities for children including bounce houses, mazes, and other types of entertainment. The second event on July 15th is called ‘Heights or Bust’ will feature music and specialty cars from Palma’s Automotive (Rolls-Royces, Ferrari’s, etc.). On Saturday, September 30, there will be a variation of HIP’s previous Sippin’ on Station event. More details to follow. Fundraising efforts will be dedicated to a breast cancer organization.
Lange reported that she has completed the employee evaluations that she was responsible for. Summer Rec is working on getting all the employment paperwork in from the counselors. She will be asking the Chief of Police to review safety procedures to ensure they are up to date for Summer Rec.
Lange announced fall sports field use applications were due on June 1st.
She said work is being done at the Glover Mill Historic Mill Site as weather permits. She also reported that the Public Works has put down new mulch under the play equipment at Hoff’s Park as well as finishing other seasonal tasks. Donations were also secured to purchase a new ADA accessible picnic table for Hoff’s Park.
The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 13th at 7:30 p.m.
Councilman DiRenzo had nothing to report.
Mayor Merryfield reported that the Borough has been working to make the proposed Small Explorer’s Park at Hoff’s Park a reality. We have been working closely with volunteers to get this done, particularly Councilwoman Lange and Jillian Soriano. Merryfield explained that he is committed to financing this play equipment next year. The establishment of the Friends of Small Explorers Committee, led by Rich Kinkler, is dedicated to engaging in private fundraising for this project. The placement of the Willow tunnel a few weeks ago was Phase I of this project. We are now looking into this is Phase II.
Resolution 2017:125 – Resolution Regarding Receipt and Review of the 2016 Audit
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:125 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilwoman Lange. All members voted in favor.
Resolution 2017:126 – Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of a 2017 Trailer Mounted Vacuum Debris Collector for the Department of Public Works through the National Joint Powers Alliance, Membership #126304
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:126 as amended was made by Councilwoman Lange, seconded by Council President Griffith. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2017:127 – Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of Two (2) 2017 Ford F450 Cab & Chassis Crew Cab 4×4 Vehicles through Winner Ford, State Contract #A88215
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:127 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Council President Griffith.
Councilman DiRenzo questioned the state contract price that is listed and the price we were quoted is a $1,400 different. He also wanted to inform council that some of the items listed on this invoice are not able to be covered under state contract, so he wants to ensure we get a different purchase order for these items. He also wants to confirm that we receive the correct 10% off discount for the ford factory options listed. He suggests that before we pay any bills on this, that we check it to guarantee that it complies with State Contract law.
Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2017:128 – Resolution Authorizing the Payment of Bills and Claims for the First Half of June
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:128 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Council President Griffith.
Councilman DiRenzo expressed concerns with regards to the borough not being in possession of Certificate of Insurance and/or Business Registrations for some of our contractors.
DiRenzo also questioned why we were reimbursing CFO Christie Ehret for payments when she works in another town as well.
Councilwoman Valvardi explained that Ehret only submits reimbursement request to Haddon Heights for minor costs including parking, tolls, and mileage. This is because the other town that she works for does not reimburse for these expenses. She submits payments for classes, conventions, and membership dues to the other town. Another reason that she is submitting payments to Haddon Heights for costs associated with obtaining the QPA certification is because this certification will only benefit Haddon Heights, as the other town already has a QPA on staff.
DiRenzo also expressed his concerns with the payments to Municipal Equipment Enterprises. He asked Superintendent John Ellis about the transportation and labor rates. He also pointed out that we have not received a Business Registration Certificate or Certificate of Insurance. Councilwoman Lange asked if a company is off of state contract asking if you have to submit the Business Registration and Certificate of Insurance to the state contract company. DiRenzo responded that yes, they need to provide these documents.
Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who voted NO on the payment to Municipal Equipment Enterprise and Council President Griffith and Councilwoman Valvardi who abstained from the payments to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Southern New Jersey Regional Benefit Fund, and VSP.
Resolution 2017:129 – A Resolution Providing for a Meeting Not Open to the Public In Accordance with the Provisions of the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-12. 1.) Matter related to the Collective Bargaining Agreement with Government Workers Union (GWU). Discussion expected to be ½ hr. in duration. Formal Action May be Taken. 2.) Discussion related to Non-Contractual Salary Resolution. Discussion is expected to be ½ hr. in duration. Formal Action May be Taken.
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:129 was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. All members voted in favor.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment on any topic anyone may wish to address.
Warren Danenza, 27 11th Avenue- Mr. Warren approached the microphone expressing concerns about the pavement condition on his block of 11th avenue. In his experience, this road has always been patched, never resurfaced. He explained that it is becoming a safety and financial liability. He came to ask for help.
Warren wanted to know how the repaving planning process works. He has prepared a list of questions and a photo slideshow, which he offered to e-mail to all of Council. He understands this is a process and does not expect it to be done tomorrow. He said that he has called the Engineer’s office and left messages without any follow up. Superintendent of Public Works, John Ellis explained that this block is on our list of roads to repave, however, it is a process to move down the list. Ellis ensured Mr. Warren that we are working to get to this point on the list. Ellis and Solicitor Olizi both will speak with the Engineer’s office.
Seeing no further movement, a motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Lange. All members were in favor.
Mayor Merryfield announced that Council would be going into Executive Session.
Council went into Executive Session at 8:13 p.m.
OPENING OF EXECUTIVE SESSION TO THE PUBLIC:
A motion was made to open the meeting to the public by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. All members present were in favor.
Upon a roll call vote, all members present were in favor.
ADJOURNMENT OF COUNCIL MEETING:
Respectfully submitted: Katie Compton, Deputy Borough Clerk