Township Council Special Meeting

The Special Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 5:00 p.m. on Monday February 27, 2017 in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Jean Murphy presiding.

Statement of Compliance

Adequate notice of this meeting has been provided to the public and the press on February 7, 2017, and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

Roll Call of Members

Present were Council Members Dan Kadish, Sandra Ooms, Patrick Rizzuto, Dick Wetzel and Council President Jean Murphy. Also present were Mayor Harry Shortway, CFO Elke Yetter, Administrator Charles Voelker.

Salute to the Flag

Council Member Murphy led the assemblage in the salute of the flag.

Public Comments

Council President Murphy asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
Motion: Dick Wetzel
Second: Sandra Ooms
All members were in favor.

There were no public comments.

Closed to Public Comments

Seeing no members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Murphy asked for a motion to close the public portion of the meeting.
Motion: Sandra Ooms
Second: Dan Kadish
All members were in favor.

Items for Discussion

Clerk Budget Presentation

Council President Murphy asked Municipal Clerk Lauren Kirkman to come forward to present the 2017 Budget for the Clerk’s Office. Clerk Kirkman explained the salary portion which includes a part-time employee to assist in office coverage and statutory duties. Clerk Kirkman mentioned this position had previously been done by floater staff. Clerk Kirkman described budget items of office supplies, records management, codification of ordinances and election costs which are determined by Sussex County.

Building Department Budget Presentation

Council President Murphy asked construction Official Dave Condon to come forward and present the 2017 Budget for the Construction Office. Mr. Condon explained there is an increase in education for an existing employee to gain his electrical license to provide coverage should the full-time inspector be off for extended period and notes shared services with other towns is becoming harder to find. Mr. Condon describes the various line items in the budget which includes supplies, and new computer software to process permits more efficiently and allow the public access. In the capital budget, Mr. Condon requests a new inspector vehicle as #222 will not last through the year, per DPW fleet personnel.

Animal Control Budget Presentation

Council President Murphy asked Tom Maellaro to come forward and present the 2017 Budget for the Animal Control Office. Mr. Maellaro explained he will be retiring later in year and has invited employee James Epperly to come forward as well. Mr. Maellaro stated there are increases in supplies due to budget transfers. In prior years, items such as garbage bags were included in the budget of the DPW but by including them in the budget of the Animal Control office, there will be better tracking of the costs associated with the shelter, Mr. Maellaro explained. He added there will be an increase in salary due to increase in hours of part-time employee for training purposes. Mr. Maellaro explained local veterinarians help the shelter tremendously through spay /neuter programs. In the capital budget, Mr. Maellaro requested building repairs of new floor and to finish the siding on the new addition. He added the animal control van is in need of replacement but feels with use of retired patrol vehicle for certain duties, the van should make it through 2017.

Council President Murphy asked Mr. Maellaro his opinion on passing ordinance to ban pet stores from selling puppies in Vernon Township but instead to sell rescues. Mr. Maellaro explained the proposed ordinance refers to the increase of animals coming from the south from mills that don’t have laws as strict as NJ. In Vernon, with close inspections by Sussex County Health Officer, Mr. Maellaro feels Vernon Township does not have a huge problem requiring passing the ordinance. Mr. Maellaro also informed the Council that this year there have been two confirmed cases of rabies and that increased awareness to the public is important and added any additional employees working in the shelter will need vaccinations. Council Member Rizzuto complimented Mr. Maellaro and his employees on great job.

Administration Budget Presentation

Council President Murphy asked Mr. Voelker to present the Administration Budget. Mr. Voelker noted salary budget is decreased because floater employees are out of the Admin budget and in specific department’s budget as there are no more floaters. He added the Township had 102 full-time and 18 part-time employees in 2016, and in 2017 has 96 full-time and 26 part-time which includes one new full-time DPW employee and two possibly, three part-time new hires to assist the clerk, building and zoning departments. Mr. Voelker explained the various line items in the budget and noted the increase in technology due to proposed software purchase which will be beneficial to permitting process and the public.

Other Budgetary Items (Not specific to a Department)

Ms. Yetter presented the Capital Budget which includes various vehicle purchases and repairs for DPW, improvements on Maple Grange Road, DPW crack patch machine, water upgrades for Municipal Building, fence and small playground equipment at Veterans Memorial Park. Ms. Yetter added 75 Fire Department SCBAs are needed but the cost may be supplemented by grant. Also, she explained a FEMA grant was applied for for a new Ladder Truck for McAfee Fire Dept. which if received Vernon would need to cover the $100,000 down payment. Council Member Wetzel asked if the Town has explored the benefits and durability of using wing plows. Council President Murphy asked if any other Fire Departments requested a fire truck in 2018 which Mayor Shortway answered he is not aware of any. Council Member Ooms asked about increase in technology and Mr. Voelker explained upgrades in software are needed by our current contractor to maintain our website and to increase security and maintain the existing platform. Mr. Voelker explained the line for legal settlement was also increased from $10,000 to $25,000 due to current litigation received. Council Member Ooms asks why costs pertaining to purchase of Wisteria property where charged to legal services and not to Open Space which Ms. Yetter explains after purchase complete it can be recharged to the Open Space account.


There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for Adjournment was made by Council Member Rizzuto, seconded by Council President Murphy with all members voting in favor.

The Special Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 7:16 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Lauren Kirkman, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: March 27, 2017