BOROUGH OF HADDON HEIGHTS
Tuesday, May 2, 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., Borough Clerk Kelly Santosusso and Deputy Borough Clerk Katilyn Compton were also present.
Mayor Merryfield began the meeting by addressing the items on the Caucus agenda.
Borough Performance Evaluations
Councilwoman Valvardi said that performance evaluations will be completed and said that although some Departments conducted their own internal performance reviews, all borough employees will be reviewed by their department head and submitted to respective Directors. She noted that Kelly Santosusso sent a template of the Performance Evaluations to all Department Heads and informed them that all employees should be reviewed. Discussion ensued regarding the procedure for reviewing department heads; there was some concern that Directors do not work closely enough with their respective departments to conduct a proper review. Council President Griffith explained that she would be comfortable reviewing the Department Heads under her Directorship. Councilwoman Valvardi suggested that we have the department heads review themselves and submit to the Directors. Councilman Berryhill explained the court’s review process, explaining that they have their staff anonymously review their supervisors. Mayor Merryfield asked Councilman Berryhill to forward to council members the forms utilized by the court for review before the next council meeting.
Verizon/Tilson Technologies – Larry Morgan
Larry Morgan from Tilson Technologies explained their contract with Verizon Wireless in which they are looking to enhance the wireless signal strength in Haddon Heights. He said that they plan to address this goal by attaching radio cabinets onto select utility poles in high-volume areas. These select areas are in need of an increase of data capacity due to significant increases in usage. At this time, Verizon Wireless is only requesting council’s consent to be in the “right of way” to begin the planning process which would be submitted to Council for further approval for installation. Agreements have already been made with the Public Utility Company.
Councilman DiRenzo expressed his concern with the impending installment of the antenna on a church in town that was supposed to address this issue.
Solicitor Olizi asked Morgan if there was any compensation to the borough for use of their right-of-way. Morgan responded no, but Verizon Wireless will incur any of the cost related to installation, planning, traffic, etc.
Morgan went on to explain that a strong wireless signal is important to the community, resident’s, and businesses.
This item will be on the next council agenda for further discussion.
Mayor Merryfield concluded Caucus session and said 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.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment on Caucus and Agenda items only.
Seeing no one else come forward, 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.
PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION in recognition of the retirement of John Szczerbinski.
Mayor Merryfield asked John Szczerbinski and Councilman Berryhill, Director of Construction of Zoning to come forward. Councilman Berryhill then read the Certificate of Appreciation aloud and presented it to Mr. Szczerbinski. Mayor Merryfield asked John if he wanted to say a few words. Szczerbinski said that he appreciated the recognition and thanked Mayor and Council for their support over the years. He said that he regretted leaving Haddon Heights but due to the way the pension system is set up, he must retire. He said he is going to miss Haddon Heights as he has enjoyed working with so many good people here. He specifically expressed his gratitude to former Councilwoman Rose Fitzgerald who was present. He said she hired him and worked closely with him in improving the Construction Office. He said that he appreciated her guidance.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mayor Merryfield asked for a motion to approve the Minutes of the April 18, 2017 Council meeting.
A motion to approve the Minutes of the April 18, 2017 Council meeting was made by Councilman DiRenzo, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members present were in favor with the exception of Council President Griffith.
Council President Griffith said she wished to remind everyone that the Haddon Heights Neighbors Soiree En Blanc pop-up event will be held on Saturday, May 20th. Tickets are available at the Library and through members of HH Neighbors at $40 a pair until May 8th and then $50 a pair thereafter. All should dress in white and bring their own tables, chairs, food, and drink. Restaurants in town are preparing take out package specials specifically for the event.
Report from March for the Haddon Heights Police Department, a copy of which is attached to these Minutes.
The Police Department was awarded a Distracted Driving Grant from the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety which runs April 1st through April 21st. The Police Department has also applied for a Click it or Ticket grant and awards for this will be made this month. Residents are reminded to go on the HH Facebook page.
Council President Griffith read the Ambulance report for the month of April and the Fire Department report for the month of March. A copy of both reports are attached to these minutes. During the winter storm on March 14th, the Fire Department was fully staffed for eighteen hours; the crew handled 14 calls for service, and worked together with the Department of Public Works and the Police Department to ensure the best service was provided to our residents. She said that Captain John Smaldore has been cleared to return to duty following a leg injury that he suffered in a fire in January which required four months of rehab.
Council President Griffith gave the HH Fire Department report for the month of March. 74 calls of service, 180 thus far for 2017. Several firefighters are finishing their certifications. HH Fire Department will begin offering CPR classes to Borough employees and residents.
Griffith then updated all on Boy Scout Michael Skotniki’s Eagle Scout project of painting house numbers on the curbs. She said that he stopped by her house with his dad to update her on the project. They already have quite a few companies involved such as NJ American Water who will donate materials. He is just waiting for approval from the Boy Scout Board before he can begin. He is also looking forward to doing a car wash fundraiser.
Council President Griffith said that request for quotes for the 4th of July After Party were sent out last week. Griffith then said that there has been an Ad Hoc meeting to conduct a fact finding study on how to improve the 4th of July celebrations in Haddon Heights. Representatives from Heights in Progress (HIP), Haddon Heights Business and Professional Association (HHBPA), the Municipal (Drug) Alliance, former Chief Rich Kinkler, the Fire Department and the Police Department are conducting this study. She said that Rich Kinkler is reviewing Borough and State code to see where our limitations are. The Committee will be having another meeting the end of May.
Councilwoman Lange said she attended the HIP Meeting and that Councilwoman Valvardi will report on her behalf. She said she has also been preparing for the Lizzy Haddon Basketball event for the AAU Tournament. Girls basketball teams from the tri-state area and beyond will be attending. Lange said she has put up flyers to encourage these guests to explore Haddon Heights and our local shops and eateries, as well as the Farmers Market.
She said she has been working on Down by the Station Day which is scheduled for May 13th from 10 am to 3 pm. The event will be held rain or shine. The Railroad Station will have an open house and the Library will show train videos for children at 12 pm and the West Jersey Historical Railroad Association will show videos in the Auditorium from 10 to 1. Trolley rides will run from 10:15 to approximately 1 pm running up and down station around the park and back. Lange said she needs volunteers. She said that if councilmembers wished to volunteer to let her know. She added that the shifts will be just one hour. She said the HH Business Association and HIP have contributed to the hats that will be given out. She thanked them for their contribution. HHBPA is paying for the Pine Barons, a singing group, to drive rove around town and entertain people. She said that Station Avenue will not be closed.
Councilwoman Lange went on to report that the Summer Rec Camp Counselor applications are currently being reviewed. She added that any families who are registered to attend will be receiving their information packet shortly.
Lange then announced that the PTG Parent Teacher Group will be holding a Run Like its Recess 5K.
Councilman DiRenzo had no report.
Councilman Berryhill reported that he met with the Advisory Board for Hens in Heights. He said there is a Resolution on the agenda this evening designating the Advisory Board and its members. He commented that the Board has already drafted an application and complaint form. The Board will meet monthly for a while and then move to every other month. Berryhill remarked that he thinks the Pilot will go well and will be policed by themselves. He added “this is good for the town.”
Councilman Berryhill said he was on the County Taskforce website for Drug and Alcohol Abuse. He said that the County has held 13 events for the disposal of prescription drugs over the last seven years. This is done in an environmentally safe manner. He reported that we do this every day of the year and said that we are ahead of the curve on this idea.
Plug for the 5K Run on the 4th of July for the Municipal Alliance for the seven hours speakers, video, open gym and project prom.
Berryhill reported that the Local Board of Health held the Rabies Clinic last Saturday morning.
Councilman DiRenzo asked Councilman Berryhill why we had not participated in the event even though we were sent an invitation to take back prescription drug day. He responded that we publish our program in the HEIGHTS REPORT and collect them every day. DiRenzo asked if he decided that we do not have to Camden County Task Force. DiRenzo went on to explain that the Camden County Task Force asks if you are a drop off location – that we would open up that day so that people can bring their expired or unused prescription drugs for safe disposal. Berryhill said that he felt this was unnecessary as we collect them everyday of the year and is aware that individuals come from outside of town to drop off here as well. 325 lbs. of drugs were collected last year and 122 pounds so far for 2017. Griffith asked Captain Scardino how often we dispose of the drugs. Captain Scardino responded that we do this quarterly. He thanked the Police Department for this service.
Mayor Merryfield said that he wanted to address a situation that occurred last Saturday at the ball fields on W. Atlantic Avenue where a few residents were ticketed due to parking in a no parking area. Mayor Merryfield said that no parking signs have been placed there for safety reasons. He said there were 16 people illegally parked on Saturday. He said the police had HHYA make an announcement and waiting a significant period of time for individuals to move their cars. Following a reasonable period of time, three individuals had not moved their vehicles and were then ticketed. He said he was sorry about this but no parking signs are in place for safety reasons. Councilman Schroeder commented that if the area is unsafe, cones and/or chains should be placed in the area. Berryhill responded that would be unreasonable as this would have to be done everywhere around town. Schroeder responded that perhaps an officer should be there during this time. He then went on to say that residents who receive tickets in the mail versus a face to face interaction. Berryhill said that we do not have enough officers to wait for a person to return to their car. Mayor Merryfield and Olizi said that this is a safety issue which is addressed by a sign. Mayor Merryfield said that he spoke with the HHYA President, Jim Bruno about making announcements that there is no parking in those areas along W. Atlantic Avenue. Lange added that we can also provide the parking handouts. Lange said she and Bruno have walked the area and have had the dumpsters moved to provide a few additional spots.
Councilwoman Valvardi said that all is well in the Administrative Offices. She said that she had the opportunity to meet our newest employee, Jackie Cesanek. She said that Cesanek is happy to be working in the Service Operations Facility and is excited to be in the position.
Valvardi said she was unable to attend the Heights in Progress (HIP) meeting due to a family commitment but had notes from Councilwoman Lange. She said that HIP has increased its membership to 40 members. She reported that the Rhythm and Blues event went well despite the weather, adding that the beer vendors were very happy with the amount of people who turned out. Procedures were reviewed and they came up with pros and cons. HIP will donate the surplus of cups to the Pine Hill Fire Department.
Summer Nights Heights will be held on the third Saturday during June, July, August and September. Details will be provided on the Borough website. She said the Farmer’s Market will begin May 7th on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Kids Time at the Farmer’s Market will be held on the third Sunday of every month, courtesy of Haddon Heights Neighbors.
Councilman Schroeder reported that the Farmers Market will begin May 7th. He said the Shade Commission and boys scouts will be handing out tree saplings at the Market.
Schroeder said that Roni Olizi is looking for the Mayor’s signature on the Community Stewardship Incentive Program grant application that is due May 16th.
Schroeder then reported that on Arbor Day, 400 seedlings were distributed at St. Rose of Lima School, Atlantic Avenue, Seventh Avenue and Glenview Avenue schools in town.
Schroeder said that he distributed a memo to fellow Councilmembers regarding the Bond Ordinance on the agenda for Introduction this evening, a copy of which is attached to these minutes.
Councilman Schroeder regarding the Maple Avenue Pump Station – considering paying for this out of a New Jersey Environmental infrastructure Trust that allows for financing for projects at a zero percent interest rate over thirty years. Steve Bach, Borough Engineer interjected saying that the Maple Avenue Pump Station is a structure that was built in the 1950’s. He said that there is a very real possibility that the components and the structure itself may not last for 15 years although they should last a couple of years. He further explained that this is technology from the 1950’s which is approximately 30 feet below ground. He said that the Rehabilitation of the Maple Avenue Pump station has been part of his five year plan and would include raising the structure above ground.
Bach said that sometime in June, he expects that Camden County or the CC Municipal Utilities Authority may have some opportunities that municipalities can take advantage of to get some of these projects completed at a low interest rate or less cost.
Councilman Schroeder asked if it made sense to bond the 60,000 for the repair of the Maple Avenue Pump Station. He said he feels that if we have the money available, we should pay it now.
Bach addressed the Kings Highway sanitary sewer system slip lining – a situation in which we share with Audubon in that we cannot certify our 80 year old terracotta piping infrastructure if the County were to proceed with the repaving of the road Audubon cannot certify either. He said that he feels that project could very well be done with some of the opportunities that may be presented in June.
CFO Ehret approached the microphone to clarify the perception that monies can be taken from surplus to pay for capital projects. She said that the surlpus is realized in the municipal budget as a revenue. You must have the same amount realized in the next year and the following year. She said that an amount is taken from surplus to offset the amount of a tax increase. She noted that her experience here has been that we have tried to have small tax increases. Paying for a particular emergency or item out of the operating budget would ensure that amount gets passed along to the tax payer in the following year as opposed to bonding which spreads out the payments over a 10 to 15 year period. Mayor and Council thanked Ehret for her explanation.
DiRenzo questioned Ehret on other options to pay for the emergency with the pump station out of the budget. Ehret said that cannot be done as the budget has been adopted for the 2017 year. DiRenzo asked if transfers of appropriations can be utilized. She said yes, but did not think that we would have that amount available.
Councilwoman Lange asked Ehret if she would address our recent increase in our financial/bond rating. Ehret said that Standards and Poors considers the Borough to be a very financially stable municipality in the bond world. The reason for this is that we have minimal tax increases. Ehret went to further explain the concept of bonding – to spread out the payments over a 15 to 20 year period so that residents who are moving in the town would realize the benefits as opposed to if a resident moves out of town, they would not have had to contribute toward the entire cost of the project due to the payments being spread out over a number of years. She said the bond interest rate is minimal, 2 to 3%. She gave the example of a tax increase on $60,000 would represent a 2% increase in the following year to the taxpayer.
Discussion ensued as to options with Ehret responding that she is simply explaining why she does not recommend paying for items out of surplus.
Bach added that the process in applying for the monies out of the Environmental Trust is approximately one year.
Introduction of Bond Ordinance 2017:1441 – Bond Ordinance Providing For Various Capital Improvements by the Borough of Haddon Heights, Appropriating the Aggregate Amount of $827,000 Therefor and Authorizing the Issuance of $787,600 Bonds or Notes of the Borough to Finance Part of the Cost Thereof
A motion to introduce Bond Ordinance 2017:1441 was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi.
Councilman DiRenzo commented that he received a comprehensive document from Councilman Schroeder and asked if the Bond Ordinance can be tabled for further discussion. He then suggested that Council hold off on introducing the bond ordinance. Mayor Merryfield said that we already delayed the bond and made changes.
Mayor Merryfield thanked Councilman DiRenzo and asked the Clerk for the roll call. Upon roll call, all members voted in favor with the exception of Councilman DiRenzo who voted no.
Mayor Merryfield announced that Public Hearing and final adoption is scheduled for May 16, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 625 Station Avenue, Haddon Heights, New Jersey.
Resolution 2017:109 – Resolution Authorizing Refunds of Various Programs Fees
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:109 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilwoman Lange. All members voted in favor.
Resolution 2017:110 – Resolution Authorizing the Solicitation of Bids for Tree Removal Services in the Borough of Haddon Heights
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:110 was made by Councilwoman Lange, seconded by Council President Griffith. All members were in favor.
Resolution 2017:111 – Resolution Establishing a Hens in Heights Advisory Board
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:111 was made by Councilman DiRenzo, seconded by Council President Griffith. All members were in favor.
Resolution 2017:112 – Resolution Authorizing the Payment of Bills and Claims for the First Half of May
Councilman DiRenzo asked about payments to Innovative Investigations and Pennoni Associates. Councilwoman Lange said that Innovative Investigations payment is for running background checks on program instructors who work with children. CFO Ehret said that the payment to Pennoni is for work done by a licensed site remediation professional for Devon Avenue which is paid out of a grant, Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:112 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilman Schroeder. Upon a roll call vote, all members voted yes with the exception of Councilwoman Valvardi and Council President Griffith who abstained from Horizon Dental and VSP Vision payments.
Resolution 2017:113 – 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. Matter related to employment in the Fire Department. Discussion expected to be ½ hr. in duration. Formal Action May be Taken.
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:113 was made by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. All members voted in favor.
Resolution 2017:114 – Resolution Authorizing Refund of a Cabin Rental Fee
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:114 was made by Councilwoman Lange, seconded by Council President Griffith. Upon a roll call vote, all members were in favor.
Resolution 2017:115 – Resolution Requesting the Insertion of a Special Item of Revenue in the Budget of the Borough of Haddon Heights Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:4-87 (Chapter 159 P.L. 1948) – Distracted Driving Grant $5,500.00
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:115 was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilwoman Valvardi. Under a roll call vote, all members voted in favor.
Resolution 2017:116– Resolution Authorizing the Payment of Bills and Claims for the First Half of May
A motion to adopt Resolution 2017:116 was made by Councilwoman Valvardi, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. Under a roll call vote, all members present voted in favor.
Mayor Merryfield called for Public Comment on any topic anyone may wish to address.
Kimberley Begley, 404 Second Avenue and her husband – The Begleys said they wanted to address Council about the property located at 400 Second Avenue saying that they have “hit a wall” expressing their frustration with the home that has been under construction for an extended period of time. Several questions were asked of the Begleys by Councilmembers. Councilman Berryhill said that he would address their concerns with the Zoning Officer. The Begleys presented several photos of the property.
Seeing no further movement, a motion to close the Public Comment portion of the meeting was made by Council President Griffith, seconded by Councilman Berryhill. All members were in favor.
Mayor Merryfield announced that Council would be going into Executive Session.
ADJOURNMENT OF BUSINESS SESSION:
Council went into Executive Session at 8:10 p.m.
Councilman DiRenzo was not present for the Executive Session. Fire Chief Michael Kinky was in attendance.
OPENING OF EXECUTIVE SESSION TO THE PUBLIC:
A motion was made to open the meeting to the public by Councilman Berryhill, seconded by Council President Griffith. All members present were in favor.
Upon a roll call vote, all members present were in favor.
ADJOURNMENT OF EXECUTIVE SESSION:
A motion was made to adjourn the meeting by Councilwoman Griffith, seconded by Councilman Schroeder. All members present were in favor.
Kelly Santosusso, RMC, Borough Clerk