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  • Writer's pictureChristine McGrath

July 1st Meeting Summary

Last Monday we had a Council meeting. Here are the highlights.


We had the final vote to put in a new stop sign at Claremont and Cumberland, and we made other minor parking adjustments.


We introduced a bond to purchase the "OLL Parking Lot" on 46 Lakeside for $2.25 million. This includes the costs of the property and our costs to renovate the parking lot to including EV charging and parking stations. We have applied for a grant to cover some of these costs. The second vote on this bond ordinance will be at our July 22nd meeting. You can send your comments on this bond purchase to us prior to the meeting at https://www.veronanj.org/council.


Resolutions that were passed included hiring the firms to do our tax evaluation, which will be starting later this year or early next year. We are required by Essex County to conduct this reevaluation. We also voted to end our relationship with Montclair Health Department at the end of the year. We will be contracting with Bloomfield's Health Department in 2025. We approved our meeting dates for 2024-2025. We also approved a purchase of new holiday decor for our downtown.


We made a variety of appointments to boards and committees. At our last meeting, the Mayor unilaterally changed our process on how we do board and committee appointments, which I objected to. He implemented a process where Council members made nominations from the floor and we discuss their merits in public. In my five years on Council we never did it this way. Usually we discuss these items in closed or we have a voting system that the Clerk organizes so that we avoid talking about the qualifications of volunteers in public.


Let me say that we have amazing talent in our community and some of the decisions on who gets to serve on our boards and committee are really hard. This particular group of applications was the best I have seen. Last Monday the Mayor made all of the motions on who was going to be on our boards and committees, and the Council Majority voted for all of them. Where there was a selection of candidates for committees, Councilwoman Holland and I abstained from most votes. The Council majority also voted to remove a member of the planning board as part of this process, which was highly upsetting to me and I objected to, as this member has put in a lot of volunteerism with our Community. I do not think this process is the best way to encourage residents to volunteer for our boards and committees, and I hope in the future we can return to our previous practice.


In New Business (2 hrs into the meeting), I brought up, for a final time, having a voter referendum to move the election from May to November. I forced a vote on a motion to direct our administration to draft and ordinance on having a voter referendum. It failed 3-2 (Councilwoman Holland voted in favor). In addition, two of the members of the Council majority stated they were against moving the election (Roman and McEvoy). As you may recall from my previous updates, we need a super majority (4 of 5) to move the election or even to have a voter referendum on moving the election. So this matter is officially closed, and we will be spending at least $70K next May to host our municipal election. Thank you to all of the residents who wrote to us in favor of moving the election or at least having a voter referendum. We only received positive comments in favor of the move.


In new business, we also discussed making mostly minor changes to our advisory committee structures. One more significant change is to potentially expand the Recreation Advisory Committee from 6 to 9 members.


One final comment on the meeting: I expressed my displeasure on the financial slides that were included in the recent public meeting on the new Emergency Services Complex. In my opinion, we had a bit of a process breakdown. The Council never saw those slides before they were presented. While the top line number ($50 million) was known to us, the slides that estimated the tax impact where never shown to us. I have a lot of questions on the assumptions that were used. We will be going through the financials at a future meeting, and we asked for an outside financial expert to be involved.


If you have any comments or feedback for the Council., you can send it to us by filling out this form: https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.





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