Back on November 13th we had a meeting! This is a brief summary of what was discussed.
We passed new ordinances to re-organize the Department of Community Services and establish new rules (as required by the State) on lead based paint inspections of rental properties.
We had a bit of a disagreement during the introduction of an ordinance on water rates, with Councilwoman Holland and I voting against introduction. The ordinance that was introduced extended the expiration date of the "temporary water surcharge" until 12/31/2024. Our current water rates are $5.92 and a $1.00 "temporary" water surcharge. Councilwoman Holland and I wanted to defer introducing any change to water rates until the water rate study is completed, which will be in 4 weeks. We were outvoted by the Council Majority by 3-2.
Under resolutions, we approved budget transfers between departments, which is standard for this time of year. What was a surprise though was what was revealed about the cost to Verona for the May municipal election. The cost to have the election this past May increased to $45,000, whereas two years ago it cost Verona $25,000. The County charges the Township for the May municipal election since it is our choice to have the election in May. We could have the election in November like many other NJ towns that are non-partisian, and if we did we would not need to pay for the County's cost to run the election.
We accepted a $25K grant to comply with our Tier-A MS4 Permit for stormwater management. In new business we reviewed a proposed ordinance on private salt storage. Expect more ordinances and actions in 2024 as we move Verona into full compliance with the new requirements.
We closed out the Ann/Cypress/Willow/Stevens project with a $68K change order. I stressed my concern over the number of shade trees planted in this project and the timing of their planting. Personally, I am concerned that each one of these road projects results in a net loss of the number of shade trees. I asked the Administration to work more closely with the Shade Tree Commission in the future.
We picked our solid waste and recycling contractors for the next five years. We received one bid for each service, as is typical. We are going to see costs increase 4% per year of the contract for solid waste, and 5.4% for recycling. This is substantially less than what other communities have faced when these services go out to bid. Waste collection will cost Verona $820K in 2024 and recycling will cost $240K. This represents the fees that we pay for the service, not the cost to actually dispose of what we throw out, which is variable.
We increased our contract with Jacobs Engineering to $892K to cover the cost of their work on the PFAS well remediation projects. We approved the purchase of a new pickup truck for DPW at a cost of $44K. We also approved new firearms purchases for the police at $30K.
Verona had a key employee, Jeff Sonntag, retire from our Water and Sewer Treatment Plant. We approved a contract with MJG Services to provide required support of our utilities while we search for a replacement.
Finally we passed a resolution recognizing National Injury Prevention Day, which was on November 18th. To learn more go to https://www.injuryfree.org/index.cfm.
If you have any comments on what was discussed, please reach out to the entire Council here: https://www.veronanj.org/councilcontactform.