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January 1, 2011

COUNCIL MINUTES

The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach met at 1:01PM. with Mayor Barrella, Council Members Tooker, Hennessy, Rizzo, Lurie and Dyer, and Councilman-Elect Corbally present. The Municipal Clerk read the notice indicating compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

Mark Mutter, Esq. administered the Oath of Office to returning Councilwoman Kristine Tooker.
John Gelson, Esq. administered the Oath of Office to Councilman-Elect Michael Corbally.
Municipal Clerk Ellsworth administered the Oath of Office to Assistant Fire Chief William Leonard and Deputy Fire Chiefs Frank Finn and A J Fox.

Councilman Corbally: thanked all for their patience with snow storm and snow removal; thanked all for showing up to meeting; thanked his Mom and daughters for always being there; last two or three years have been very tough for Point Pleasant Beach, but the Beach has not been the only one - it’s the Federal, State, County and municipalities all around - this Governing Body didn’t cause the recession, unemployment or housing prices to go down – unfortunately, our public employees are in a spot that they didn’t create – take exception with some of the people pointing fingers and blaming them for the situation we find ourselves in – it’s not their fault – they didn't get anything that we didn't offer them, that we didn’t give them – now, unfortunately some corrections and adjustments are going to have to be made - some things that Council can do better, can communicate better – simple things - like agendas and talking before the meetings, talking amongst ourselves – along with communication will come an openness – will see a transparency that may have lacked over the last two or three years - if something comes up on agenda, that I haven't had time to look at and think about, I will vote no - if it’s an emergency, that’s different; think public can be more helpful - not everybody has all the answers and not everybody’s always right – any input that you folks can give is welcome – if we discuss things openly and honestly and we come to a decision, we’re going to need the support of everyone, if we’re going to make Point Pleasant Beach a better place, not just these seven people sitting here; over last six weeks, have started communication with all the Council members; wished all a healthy and lucky New Year.

Councilwoman Tooker: wished all a Happy New Year and thanked all for attending; thanked her family for being so loving and supportive; hoping for all sorts of good things in the New Year; thanked campaign team for their awesome job; thanked her friends and fellow residents who supported her – last election was truly a grass roots effort of the people and a statement that, by and large, people are happy with what they have in Point Pleasant Beach - we all make choices to live here for a lot of reasons – people generally support our schools, our police, our employees, including our court and building department, our Borough Hall staff and our DPW, which was really put through the ringer this week; they also expect and have the right to efficiency in government - as Governing Body, we are charged with keeping property taxes as low as they can be – out on campaign trail, heard that most feel they get a lot for their money here, a good bang for their buck, especially compared to surrounding towns; surprised and delighted to see that we have several new businesses, a wonderful sign especially in this economy – urged all to support our local businesses; first term was rewarding but still had a few things left to do on her list and promised to continue working hard – Council needs to work together to do its best for Point Pleasant Beach, which should be the main motivator – can and should have healthy debates, philosophical differences, but at the end need to get the job done; congratulated Councilman Corbally and Mayor Barrella on their election victories; thanked the Bassinders for graciously hosting party at Martell’s, a true bipartisan celebration at which all are welcome; wished peace, health and blessings to all.

Mayor Barrella: asked Council to consider establishing the position of Council Vice-President, recognizing the fact that Council is comprised of different parties and with the person sitting in that seat to be of a different party than the Council President – it will bring more of a spirit of bipartisanship to the Council and get things on the agenda in a more timely manner; held for January 4th meeting.

Motion by Councilman Corbally, to appoint Councilman Lurie as Council President, was seconded by Councilman Dyer and carried by the following roll call vote.
VOTE: Council Members Tooker, Hennessy, Rizzo, Corbally, Lurie, Dyer….YEA

The appointment of Class II Planning Board member was held for the January 4th meeting.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD OPENED AT 1:23PM.

Dave Cavagnaro, Point Pleasant Beach: wished all a Happy New Year; congratulated Council Members Tooker, Corbally and Council President Lurie; asked about meeting dates (for action on January 4th) – asked if any new positions were being created that cost additional money.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD ENDED AT 1:25PM.

Councilman Corbally questioned stipends in items 1/n, 1/r and 1/s; Mayor Barrella clarified that Mr. Savacool would have to be replaced as the CDBG alternate if he was not reappointed as Borough Engineer; Councilman Dyer asked if all appointments in Resolution #3 were re-appointments.
Motion by Councilwoman Tooker, to adopt resolutions covering items listed below, was seconded by Councilman Lurie and carried by the following roll call vote.
CONSENT RESOLUTION #1:
a) Approval of Temporary Budget for 2011
b) Establishment of Interest to be charged on delinquent taxes and water-sewer utility bills
c) Establishment of 6% penalty for Tax Delinquencies over $10,000.00
d) Authorize Council to administer ABC licenses & enforce state statutes
e) Appointment of Tax Assessor to act as agent on Tax Appeals and Execute Settlements
f) Designation of newspapers to be used for legal ads during 2011
g) Designation of depositories for municipal funds during 2011
h) Establish 2011 salaries for certain Borough employees in accordance with union
agreements
i) Appointment of Christine Riehl as Tax Search Officer for 2011
j) Appointment of Maryann Ellsworth as Assessment Search Officer for 2011
k) Appointment of Kathryn Beno as Deputy Finance Officer for 2011
l) Appointment of Eileen Farrell as Deputy Municipal Clerk for 2011
m) Appointment of John Trout as Principal Public Works Manager
n) Appointment of Kathryn Beno as Qualified Purchasing Agent for 2011
o) Approval of Application for Safe & Secure Communities Program for 2011 and
appointment of Sgt. Ippolito as grant coordinator
p) Appointment of Eileen Farrell as Deputy Registrar for 2011
q) Appointment of Karen Mills as Alternate Deputy Registrar for 2011
r) Appointment of Clinton Daniel as Deputy Emergency Mgt Coordinator for 2011
s) Appointment of Kyle Grace as Deputy Emergency Mgt Coordinator of Operations
for 2011
t) Appointment of Municipal Representative (Christine Riehl) and Alternate (Raymond
Savacool) to Ocean County Community Development Block Grant Committee for 2011
u) Appointment of Christine Riehl as Public Agency Compliance Officer for 2011
v) Appointment of School Crossing Guards, Police Matrons, Parking Enforcement Officers
and part-time Communications Operators for 2011
w) Appointment of Class I and Class II Special Police Officers for 2011
CONSENT RESOLUTION #2:
a) Set fees for special DWI sessions
b) Re-establishment of Petty Cash Funds for 2011
c) Designation of CFO to act as Governing Body Secretary during Budget Workshop
sessions
d) Establish $10 late fee for late payment of dog license fees after 1/31/2011
e) Establish annual Halloween curfew
f) Approval of exemption from municipal portion of dog/cat license fees for volunteer
fire/first aid personnel
g) Approval of exemption for one bulk pick-up fee per annum for volunteer fire/first
aid personnel
h) Set mileage reimbursement rate for 2011
i) Program Payment of annual lease fee to State of NJ for Rickover Park and open
space at junction of Routes 35 and 88
j) Set clerk stipend for special Board of Adjustment meetings
k) Appointment of Christine Riehl as PERMA Fund Commissioner
l) Appointment of Christine Riehl as Insurance Fund Commissioner and Maryann Ellsworth
as Insurance Fund Personnel Administrator
m) Appointment of Maryann Ellsworth as NJ Civil Service System Administrator
n) Appointment of Karen Mills as Board of Health Officer
o) Re-establish OPRA administrative fees for 2011
p) Re-establish property tax exemption policy for disabled veterans
q) Designate Fire Chief to sign documents and act as liaison for Firefighter Certification
r) Re-establish Condo Conversion Fee Schedule for 2011
s) Re-authorization for CFO to issue hand written checks prior to Governing Body
approval
t) Appointment of Karen Mills as Dog Warden for 2011
u) Re-establish Parking Machine Refund Policy
v) Designation of records custodians for each department
w) Appointment of Peter Ritchings as Dune Inspector
x) Establish Recreation Basketball Program salaries
CONSENT RESOLUTION #3:
a) Appointments to Board of Adjustment
b) Appointment to Parking Authority
c) Appointments to Environmental Commission – Council Liaison Kristine Tooker
d) Appointments to Historical Preservation Commission
VOTE: Council Members Tooker, Hennessy, Rizzo, Corbally, Lurie, Dyer….YEA

Mayor Barrella: made appointments to Planning Board; announced that former Councilman DiCicco suffered the loss of his mother over the holiday season – asked that all keep Mike and his family in their prayers;
“I want to thank everyone for coming and extend my best wishes to all for a Happy and Healthy New Year. I would like to congratulate Councilwoman Tooker and Councilman Corbally on their election success and ask that they remember that those who voted for them did so based upon the promises they made during last year's campaign and as such the electorate has a right to expect that those promises will be honored.
Upfront, I acknowledge the efforts of our Department of Public Works, our Police Department and our Borough Administrator, Christine Riehl, in connection with the historic snow event we recently experienced. Despite being hampered by a number of abandoned and parked cars and a slow response by county road crews in clearing those streets for which they have responsibility, most notably Arnold Avenue, Broadway, Ocean Avenue, Baltimore Avenue and Chicago Avenue, the streets in Point Pleasant Beach were all passable by Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. Their efforts should be compared to the problems experienced by numerous other municipalities such as Brick and other larger towns - proving once again that bigger is not necessarily more efficient.
I want to thank all of our volunteers whose efforts are largely responsible for making Point Pleasant Beach the great place that it is and all those who support them financially with and without notoriety in our local newspapers.
For the past two years, I have generally refrained from discussing the recall, preferring instead to concentrate on the work that needed to be done on behalf of the residents and taxpayers of Point Pleasant Beach. In the aftermath of last November's election I had hoped that this Governing Body would move forward and address the problems facing the Beach consistent with the mandate of the people as embodied in Councilwoman Tooker's landslide victory. It remains to be seen whether that will be the case.
At the January 5, 2008 reorganization meeting, my first as Mayor, I indicated that I would ‘not sugar coat the magnitude of the problems we face.’ In those remarks, I spoke of the artificial cap on property tax increases first imposed in 2008 by Trenton on municipalities. At the time there had been little discussion of what has become known as the ‘Levy CAP’. That is no longer the case, as we all know the impact of the Levy Cap on our ability to deliver vital services. I also warned of the need to abandon the practice of budgeting to the next election cycle and the need to look well beyond the current year in formulating a budget, because quite simply what is done in one year affects the budget for succeeding years.
For example, from 2005 through 2007, the then Council increased spending by $2.2M
and property taxes by only $160,000. This practice was unsustainable, and in 2008 the credit card bill came due and we were confronted with a $1M tax increase. More importantly, our levy cap base was set approximately $750,000 less than our spending warranted. We have been chasing our tail ever since.
As has always been my practice, based upon my belief that government must operate in a transparent manner, I will not sugar coat the problems facing Point Pleasant Beach in 2011. Immediately after last November's election, I asked our CFO to prepare a projected budget for this year. She has done so. I believe that her hard work has positioned us to have a final budget ready for consideration within the next six to eight weeks. Her efforts have also enabled us to have meaningful discussions with our three unions - the Teamsters, TWU and PBA - regarding the Beach's financial picture.
Many will remember that during last year's budget debate, I begged the Council not to overestimate revenue and I also implored them to leave an additional $400,000 in our town ‘savings account’. By a 4 to 2 vote, the Council ignored not only my advice, but the advice of our professionals, and left $400,000 of levy cap room on the table. We will be paying the price for that politically motivated short-term budget decision this year.
This year we are facing a deficit of approximately $1M. Why are we facing this shortfall? The projected budget prepared by Ms. Riehl holds spending at 2010 levels. Thus, the deficit we face is not the result of increased spending, but rather because of a failure to hit over ambitious revenue estimates. This failure has resulted in a decline in non-property tax revenues, which in turn has created the $1M deficit.
Over the years, many have heard me say that Point Pleasant Beach is comprised of three constituent groups - our residents, our employees and the tourism industry.
The Beach is limited this year in the amount we can raise from property taxes to $390,000, or about $10 per month for an average home in Point Pleasant Beach. Where is the additional $600,000 going to come from? Absent a change in the existing CAP law, or reliance on a poorly defined ‘referendum’ process, it will come from reduced services. Why reduced services? Because the only way currently available for the Beach to close this gap is to substantially reduce the amount of our salary expense. Although I am not an advocate of simply raising taxes, to those who would say, ‘raise taxes instead of cutting services’, that is simply not an option under the current CAP law. Thus, an employee making from $40,000 to $50,000 per year may very well be facing a $4,000 or more reduction in their annual pay. Clearly, two of the constituent groups identified above, our residents and employees, will be sharing in the sacrifice this year.
The third constituent group, the tourism industry - more specifically their customers - is once again unscathed. On December 15th, I met with State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff and Assistant Treasurer for Tax Policy, Chris Jeter, to discuss with them what I believe to be an essential 34th tool in the Governor's proposed toolkit - Local Option Revenue Initiatives, or LORI. Like most at the State level, the Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer, had no idea that Point Pleasant Beach does not own those beaches located within the municipality. At their request, I prepared and forwarded to them a memo identifying three areas that would least impact the tourism industry - a 2% fee on the sale of alcoholic beverages, a 15% fee on revenues from privately owned, paid parking lots similar to that which Newark and the larger municipalities are permitted to levy, and an extension of the motel tax to seasonal rentals. I have yet to hear back from them as to whether the Governor will embrace this request in light of the special circumstances existing in Point Pleasant Beach.
While on the topic of LORI, at the next council meeting Ordinance 2011-01 will be on the agenda. This ordinance will restore the motel tax to its previous 3% level. If this ordinance is adopted it will effectively reverse the 50% cut in the motel tax enacted by the Council last year. Ms. Ellsworth has already prepared this Ordinance for introduction at our January 4th meeting.
This is only one of the many legislative initiatives that I will be asking the Council to consider. At our last meeting for 2010, the Council approved a settlement of the tax appeals filed by Jenkinsons, the Storino family and their associates. As is their right under existing law, they had challenged in the Tax Court their property tax assessments for the years 2007 through 2010 as well as the assessed value of those properties going forward. The settlement approved by the Council will result in the refund of approximately $500,000 of property taxes to them, together with a 23% reduction going forward in the amount of the assessed value of the properties they own. This reduction in assessed value will result in a 23% reduction in the amount they pay in property taxes. Because of the current CAP law, the municipality will need to borrow the $500,000 necessary to effectuate the refund. The cost of this refund and the reduction in their property taxes will increase the burden on all other property owners in the Beach.
Many of the Beach's property owners - most notably our seniors and families - lack the financial ability to challenge their assessments and thus unlike Jenkinsons have been unable to take advantage of the financial constraints facing the town with respect to the astronomical cost of litigation. Consequently, I will be asking this Council to expedite the process of reassessment so as to restore equity with respect to the sharing of our property tax burden.
The dredging of Lake Louise and Lake of the Lilies is moving forward towards completion having been hampered last year by DEP and Fish and Wildlife restrictions. This Council needs to quickly consider a planting plan for Lake of the Lilies that will restore the shoreline and replace the existing phragmites with more appropriate indigenous species of vegetation. In addition, the Council needs to take a hard look at Little Silver Lake in order to improve the conditions there as well.
Two of our principal recreation facilities, the Boardwalk and the Little League complex, are in need of repair. I believe that our priority here should be the Little League complex as that facility is primarily used by our residents and children; whereas, the condition of the Boardwalk is largely attributable to its use by non-residents and while its value as a recreational facility cannot be downplayed, it must also be recognized that it is an asset that our largest businesses fully exploit. This Council will need to carefully consider the scope and cost of any repairs to both facilities, and alternative funding sources in connection with effectuating whatever repairs the Council decides to undertake.
Earlier I mentioned my meeting with the State Treasurer and the fact that I have yet to receive a response from the Governor as to my request. If the Governor and the Legislature refuse to provide needed relief to Point Pleasant Beach, I will be asking this Council to consider placing a local referendum question on the ballot in November regarding the issue of whether we can continue to tolerate private ownership of those beaches and parking facilities located within the municipality. In addition, we will need to explore whether we can challenge the blatant discrimination suffered by our residents and taxpayers compared to those in New Jersey's other municipalities that have LORI available to them.
Finally, I hope to tap into the substantial wealth of legal talent residing in Point Pleasant Beach to begin exploring whether it would be beneficial for the Beach to change its form of government so as to make it more responsive to the wishes of the electorate.
After I had drafted this, I came across, in the ‘Asbury Park Press,’ an article about the snow removal and what had been done in New Jersey. It was an article where Governor Christie was praising the State’s efforts in battling the blizzard. In that article, it was reported that he took Mayor Acropolis to task for his comments in blaming the State for failing to clear State roads. I know Mayor Acropolis. We’re not on each other’s Christmas card lists, but neither are we political adversaries, and if Steve said something he believed, he believed it. Consequently, the Governor’s response that the Mayor should ‘buck up’ and take responsibility that they didn’t do their jobs, is quite frankly offensive.
Because, I think, everybody tried to do the best they could in this storm. I was on (the phone) with Ms. Riehl from 11 o’clock Sunday morning, texting between myself and her, speaking with her and Mr. Trout through Tuesday evening at midnight to make sure that things got done. I think even beyond that into early Wednesday morning.
Once again, our DPW, our Police Department, Ms. Riehl and Mr. Trout did a remarkable job of getting the town at least passable. It’s not perfect, but at least passable given the magnitude of this storm.
I’d like to just thank everybody again for coming and I’ve been asked to invite everyone to Martell's immediately following. I also want to thank Scott Bassinder who is hosting the event up at Martell’s today.”

Upon motion by Councilwoman Tooker, with second by Councilman Hennessy and unanimous vote of those present, the meeting was adjourned at 1:44PM.


Published February02, 2011 | Council Minutes | 1157


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