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Montclair Township

Council Minutes 06-01-09

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MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY
June 1, 2009

The Council of the Township of Montclair, in the County of Essex, met in the Conference Room in the Municipal Building, 205 Claremont Avenue, for a Special Meeting at 7:07 P.M.
Present: Mayor Fried, Deputy Mayor Terry and Councilors Africk, Baskerville, Lewis, Murnick and Weller
Absent: None

STATEMENT OF SUNSHINE NOTICE

Mayor Fried introduced Glenn Rogers, community member who will serve as moderator for this evening’s budget exercise. Mr. Rogers explained that the purpose of the meeting was to assess specific budget alternatives and provide explicit guidance for the Township Manager to revise the 2009 municipal budget.

Agenda:

1. Review current budget profile.
2. Present a plausible budget scenario for consideration
3. Establish a key budget target
4. Assess and decide budget alternatives

Mr. Rogers reviewed the “status quo” and April 30 budgets.

He noted that in 2009 the Township expects a decrease of $394,820 in anticipated revenue from revenue collected in 2008. Mr. Rogers presented the following:
 
2003-2008 Actual Municipal Cost Trends
Compounded Annual Growth Rate-CAGR
State & Local Gov. Salaries/Wages -2.7%
CPI -2.4%
Municipal Debt Service - 12.8%
Utilities - 9.5%
Police & Fire Salaries - 6.3%
Health & Insurance - 5.2%
Library - 3.0%

* * *

Township Manager Joseph Hartnett stated that this presentation does not reflect a transparent process and challenged the way the information was gathered by Mr. Rogers. He believes that the entire process was a “travesty of the law” and violates the tenets of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPRA).

Mr. Rogers continued:

 Potential Budget Improvement Opportunities

  • Reduce Non-Labor Operating Expenses
  • Non-Labor Expenses
  • 15 Vacant Positions-January 2009
  • Reduce Overtime & Time Owed Pay

* * *

The Council declined to set a municipal tax rate target at this time. Councilor Baskerville explained that it would be difficult to do so if she was not aware of which budget items would impact a particular rate.

The Council reviewed various budget items to determine possible savings.

Following a discussion the Council suggested that the Township Manager present a budget with an approximate 3.50% increase in the blended tax rate.

Deputy Mayor Terry thanked the department heads for their input into the budget process.

* * *

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PUBLIC COMMENT

Mr. Harvey Susswein, 85 Clinton Avenue, noted that the community perceives the Council to be in “more of a reactive mode.” He expressed concern that the Board of School Estimate did not reopen discussion regarding the 4% increases to Board of Education staff and urged the creation of a Township task force to examine these long term Board of Education issues.

Mr. Allyn Hobeck, 17 North Mountain Avenue, suggested that economies of scale could be realized by better utilization of staff. He offered to work with the Council to develop budget cutting strategies.

Ms. Avissa Beek, Director of the Neighborhood Child Care Center, pleaded for additional funding for this group.

Deputy Mayor Terry thanked Glenn Rogers for his efforts regarding this evening’s budget presentation.

* * *

At 9: 14 P.M., on motion made by Mayor Fried and duly seconded, the Special Meeting was adjourned by unanimous vote.

___________________________________________
JERRY FRIED MAYOR

ATTEST:

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LINDA S. WANATMUNICIPAL CLERK