May 1st Meeting Summary
Last night we had a Council meeting. Here are the highlights.
We started off with a discussion with several of our hired professionals on our affordable housing compliance. We have several administrative things we need to do to get Verona into full compliance with the laws around affordable housing. First, we need to update our Affordable Housing section of our Administrative Code to be in compliance with state laws, which we took the first step in doing so last night when we introduced an ordinance revising our code. We also need something called a housing element and spending plan, which will be before the Planning Board at their next meeting. All three documents will be back to the Council for a final vote and adoption in June. When that is complete our legal team will go back to the courts to verify with them that we are in full compliance, and that will provide us with final protection from any developer action until the end of this "round" of affordable housing, which goes through June 30, 2025. I look forward to reaching that step, so that we can then pivot to prepare for the next round of affordable housing state mandates. We will have a lot to do in the next two years.
We passed two ordinances last night. The first was a bond ordinance to increase the bond for the ADA ramp project at town hall. Due to a host of issues with engineering, this project came in over budget. The bond was increased to $320K at the recommendation of our CFO and Administration to cover the project costs and leave room for a potential EV charging station in the future. As with all bonds, any unused amount can be canceled and the amount unspent will be added to capital surplus if we don't use the full amount, which we anticipate with this new bond amount. The Council did have a lot of suggestions for the Administration for process and communication improvement, which they are already implementing on all capital projects. The EV charging station proposal is on hold until further analysis is done and would need to be approved by the Council at a future meeting.
We also passed an second ordinance setting the salary for our new CFO at $130K annually.
We had several ordinances for introduction in addition to the ordinance on affordable housing that was already mentioned. As with all proposed ordinances, please feel free to send the Council comments prior to the meeting at https://www.veronanj.org/council. There will also be a public hearing before each ordinance vote.
We introduced an ordinance allocating $75K from the water and sewer capital improvement fund for the hydraulic study and design for a new Claridge Drive Pumping Station. We have a significant water pressure issue that impacts the Claridge properties and causes low pressure at fire hydrants. We have emergency plans in place should their be a fire event at the properties, but we need to fix the pressure issue and have been working over the last year to do so. Plans for this new pump are close to completion, and we will be getting an update at our next meeting from our new engineer.
The second ordinance introduced appropriates $15K from the pool capital improvement fund for the splash pad project. We had some small project changes that resulted in additional costs. The splash pad is still on track to open when the pool opens.
We also introduced an ordinance to codify and make permanent the Multicultural Inclusion and Accessibility Advisory Committee. We are requiring that the new committee present recommendations twice per year on issues related to diverse cultural, economic, and social issues within our community and solutions that ensure accessibility for all community members for our services and programs. In addition, the new committee will be required to submit a report every year on activities, which the current volunteers already did on a pro-active basis. Finally, the committee will continue to serve as volunteer assistance to the Township administration on organization and research on actions as it relates to multicultural inclusion and accessibility, which includes supporting event planning.
Other actions taken by the Council last night by resolution include the following. We certified our 2022 Length of Service Awards (LOSAP) for the volunteers with the fire department. We approved a dedication by public rider for both the affordable housing trust fund and public defender, which were required by Division of Local Government Affairs. Several contracts were approved, including contracts for library materials (Baker & Taylor), water department materials (Capital Supply Construction Products), tax appeal appraisal (Hendricks Appraisal Company), and municipal management software (Spatial Data Logic). We also passed a resolution urging Congress to restore the full deductibility of state and local taxes, which will be sent to our elective representatives.
In new business, we discussed an invasive species ordinance, which was proposed by the Environmental Commission. We anticipate that it will be introduced at the next meeting.
Those are the highlights. If you have any comments or feedback for the Council, please send it to all five Council members here: https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.