May 9th Meeting Summary
Last night we had a Council meeting. Here are the highlights.
We passed the budget 5-0. This budget will increase the amount raised by taxation by 2.4%. The budget totals $26.6 million, $17.2 million to be raised by taxes (excluding the minimum library tax). I want to thank our acting CFO Jen Muscara for all of her hard work pulling the budget together, and our Municipal Clerk Jennifer Kiernan for ensuring we had a successful budget hearing.
This budget is in line with increases we have seen over the last few years. This budget was started under our previous Township Manager, and I look forward to next year's process when our new Township Manager - Mr. D'Arco - puts his stamp on this budget. He as already indicated that the budget process will start much earlier.
We should be constantly looking at ways to not only cut costs but identify areas of underinvestment. Technology - for example - is one area where we may have been underinvesting for some time, and are dealing now with broken equipment and disruption of services (VTV, AV system in Council chambers). I am also pushing for early conversations on how upcoming conversion of short term to long term debt will impact our next budget cycle. That conversation may influence how to best allocate the $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds that we have received, which we need time and analysis to discuss further.
At our meeting we passed several ordinances. We established a $1,000 per week fee to rent the Community Center. I asked to review in a few months how many organizations rent the Community Center so that we can evaluate if this $1,000 per week fee is sufficient in the long term, and whether or not we should have different fees for non-profit vs. profit organizations. We passed a minor salary ordinance for two part time positions. We also passed an ordinance to allow Dish network to use our cell tower for $40K revenue. Finally we passed an ordinance to increase the money allocated to repair the slide at the pool from $65K to $90K. I have made the point that we need to be diligent about scoping projects appropriately in the future.
Under resolutions, we accepted the DCA grant of $75K for the baby pool zero entry project - a grant that we received directly due to my perseverance in asking if we could apply for it. We also awarded two contracts for necessary services for our water system. We approved the contract with the vendor to fix the pool slide.
Under new business, we had a robust conversation on amending the plant selection and placement section of our zoning code (Chapter 150, Section 11.7). Expect an introduced ordinance for our next meeting. We also discussed at length forming a Verona-Cedar Grove Flood Control Board. We had a host of questions and concerns regarding a proposed ordinance in front of us, and our township manager will connect with Cedar Grove to address the issues raised.
Finally we discussed briefly some updates on our subcommittees and the Memorial Day Parade.
If you have any comments for the Council, we suggest you email them at https://www.veronanj.org/council.