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  • Writer's pictureChristine McGrath

February 7th Council Meeting Update

Last night we had a Town Council Meeting. Here are the highlights.

The meeting started with a lovely send off for Matt Cavallo, our former Township Manager, and a big welcome to our new Township Manager, Joe D'Arco. I encourage you to watch the beginning of the meeting to see the kind words of praise and thanks for Matt's long career with Verona and Mr. D'Arco's swearing in as Township Manager.

We had many significant items on the agenda. The first was increasing water rates from $5.49 per 1,000 gallons consumed to $6.92, a 26% increase. $1 of that rate increase is "temporary" in nature and is set to expire on 12/31/23. This passed 4-1 with Councilwoman Holland being the dissenting vote. I am not pleased that we needed to raise water rates, especially since we were told in public not just six months ago that raising water rates would not be necessary as a response to our PFAS remediation. Clearly the sudden and dramatic rate increase after three years of holding rates flat suggests that financial management of this utility needs to be improved. While I voted to support this increase in rates, I will not vote for any future changes to water or sewer rates without the appropriate rate studies that Councilwoman Holland has recommended. I hope that with the Asset Management Plan, which the Council funded last year, we can get this utility under better management.

At my request, the financials supporting this increase of rates were posted to the Township website. They can be reviewed here:

The second significant item on the agenda was the renewal of the Department of Health shared service agreement with Montclair. I anticipated that the public would have some questions on this renewal, so early yesterday I reached out to our new Township Manager to ask that this agenda item get pulled from consent agenda. I wanted to give residents the chance to ask questions before we finalized this agreement. In addition, our new Township Manager has a wealth of experience negotiating and managing these type of arrangements. Before we committed to a 4-year contract I wanted to ensure we allowed for the opportunity for him to review. Several members of the public spoke during public comment last night, and then the contract negotiation was discussed in closed session. I would anticipate that we will discuss the contract at our next meeting on February 28th.

Our affordable housing development was also on the agenda. In resolutions, we passed amendments to several agreements for the project to build 95 affordable housing units with PHIRL. It was necessary to make these changes to align dates of sale, update the environmental provisions, strengthen the right to purchase agreement, and add in lender/investor language. Then, we introduced an ordnance to to increase the $6.75 million bond for this project by an additional $1.25 million. This additional cost will fund the environmental remediation and demolition of the Cameco site to ensure that the land can be delivered to PHIRL for development later this year. The public hearing and vote on is bond increase will be at our next meeting on February 28th.

We had other resolutions on the agenda, including awarding our tree cutting contract to Caputo Brothers, our snow plowing equipment contract to Martin Contracting, a tax refund for 326 Bloomfield Avenue, and other standard business.

Should you have any comments for the Council, I encourage you to send an email to the entire Council here:

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