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January 1, 2009

COUNCIL MINUTES

The Mayor and Council of the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach met at 1:05 PM. with Mayor Barrella; Council Members Mercun, Tooker, Cervino and Dixon; and Councilmen-Elect Hennessy and Rizzo present. The Municipal Clerk read the notice indicating compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

Father Curt Kreml of St. Peter Roman Catholic Church delivered the Invocation.

Municipal Clerk Ellsworth administered the Oath of Office to Councilmen-Elect Sean Hennessy and Frank Rizzo.

Municipal Clerk Ellsworth administered the Oath of Office to Fire Chief Vincent Storino, Assistant Fire Chief Michael Brodeur and Deputy Fire Chiefs Mark Drew and William Leonard.

Ordinance 2009-01 (Resident Parking Pass for Railroad Station Parking Lot) was introduced on first reading.
Councilman Dixon: same ordinance as that defeated two weeks ago – should have added non-resident taxpayers – don’t know when Parking Committee will have a comprehensive plan; Mayor Barrella: simply extending program for Borough residents – will allow residents to purchase parking passes for $10 instead of $264.
Motion by Councilwoman Tooker, seconded by Councilman Hennessy and carried by the following roll call vote, Ordinance 2009-01 was approved on first reading. The public hearing will be held on January 20, 2009.
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Tooker, Hennessy, Cervino….YEA
Council Members Dixon, Rizzo….NAY

Mayor Barrella: appointment decisions were made in a bipartisan manner – reviewed all RFP’s along with Councilman Mercun and Administrator Riehl and made appointment recommendations with respect to confidence and continuity.
Motion by Councilman Mercun, seconded by Councilman Cervino, resolutions covering the appointments listed below, were approved by the following roll call vote:
CONSENT RESOLUTION #1:
a) Appt. of Sean Gertner (Gertner-Riordan) as Borough Attorney
b) Appt. of Raymond Savacool (CMX) as Borough Engineer
c) Appt. of Warren Korecky (Supplee, Clooney & Co) as Borough Auditor
d) Appt. of Steven A. Zabarsky (Citta, Holfzapfel & Zabarsky) as Municipal Prosecutor
e) Appt. of William Mayer (DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Wisler, LLP) as Bond Counsel
f) Appt. of Kevin Starkey (Starkey, Kelly, Bauer, Kenneally & Cunningham) as Special Projects Attorney
g) Appt. of Thomas Campo, Colleen Dolcy and John P. Reilly (Citta, Holfzapfel, & Zabarsky) as Alternate Prosecutors
h) Appt. of Meridian Occupational Health as Borough Physician
i) Appt. of Plainfield Consultation Center as Police Psychologist
j) Appt. of Brant S. Collins as Special Litigation/Conflict Magistrate
k) Appt. of Birdsall Engineering, Inc.; T & M Associates; O’Donnell, Stanton, & Associates, Inc.; and Remington, Vernick and Vena as Special Projects Engineers
l) Appt. of Terry F. Brady (Mulvaney, Coronato & Brady) as Public Defender
m) Appt. of Gregory Hock and Ron Venturi as Conflict Public Defenders
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino, Dixon….YEA
Councilman Rizzo….ABSTAIN

Motion by Councilman Mercun, seconded by Councilman Cervino, resolutions covering the items listed below, were approved by the following roll call vote:
CONSENT RESOLUTION #2:
a) Approval of Temporary Budget for 2009
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) Establishment of meeting dates for 2009
e) Authorize Council to administer ABC licenses & enforce state statutes
f) Appointment of Tax Assessor to act as agent on Tax Appeals and Execute Settlements
g) Designation of newspapers to be used for legal ads during 2009
h) Designation of depositories for municipal funds during 2009
i) Establish 2009 salaries for certain Borough employees in accordance with union agreements
j) Appointment of Maryann Ellsworth as Assessment Search Officer for 2009
k) Appointment of Christine Riehl as Tax Search Officer for 2009
l) Appointment of Kathryn Beno as Deputy Finance Officer for 2009
m) Appointment of Eileen Farrell as Assistant Municipal Clerk for 2009
n) Approval of Application for Safe & Secure Communities Program for 2009 and appointment of Lt. DiCorcia as grant coordinator
o) Appointment of Councilman Mercun as Liaison to the Chamber of Commerce
p) Appointment of Councilmen Hennessy and Rizzo as Liaisons to the Board of Education
q) Appointment of Eileen Farrell, Scarlett Johnson and Karen Mills as Deputy Registrars for 2009
r) Appointment of Councilwoman Tooker as Class III Planning Board Member
s) Appointment of Guy Dempsey as Deputy Emergency Mgt Coordinator for 2009
t) Appointment of Kyle Grace as Deputy Emergency Mgt Coordinator for Operations for 2009
u) Appointment of Municipal Representative (John Trout) and Alternate (Sharon Cadalzo) to Ocean County Community Development Block Grant Committee for 2009
v) Appointment of Christine Riehl as Public Agency Compliance Officer for 2009
w) Authorization for Mayor and CFO to act as signatories on Borough accounts
x) Appointment of School Crossing Guards, Police Matrons, Parking Enforcement Officers and part-time Communications Operators for 2009
y) Appointment of Class I and Class II Special Police Officers for 2009
z) Accept resignations of Councilmen Mercun and Dixon and appoint Councilmen Cervino and Rizzo to the Open Space Committee
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino, Dixon, Rizzo….YEA

Mayor Barrella added Evan Mayer to the list of Environmental Commission appointments. Motion by Councilman Mercun, seconded by Councilwoman Tooker, resolutions covering the items listed below, were approved by the following roll call vote:
CONSENT RESOLUTION #3:
a) Set fees for special DWI sessions
b) Re-establishment of Petty Cash Funds for 2009
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
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 2009
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 DOP Systems Administrator
n) Appointment of Karen Mills as Board of Health Officer
o) Appointment of John Trout as Principal Public Works Manager
p) Re-establish OPRA administrative fees for 2009
q) Designate Fire Chief to sign documents and act as liaison for Firefighter Certification
r) Re-establish Condo Conversion Fee Schedule for 2009
s) Re-establish property tax exemption policy for disabled veterans
t) Re-authorization for CFO to issue hand written checks prior to Governing Body approval
u) Appointment of Karen Mills as Dog Warden for 2009
v) Approval of Payroll #25 ($226,362.72)
w) Re-establish Parking Machine Refund Policy
x) Appt. of Susan Burch to fill-in as Deputy Court Administrator
y) Establish Standing Council Committees for 2009
z) Appointments to Board of Adjustment
aa) Appointments to Environmental Commission
bb) Appointment to Shade Tree Advisory Committee
cc) Appt of Councilman Cervino as Community Endowment Fund Trustee
dd) Appointment of Peter Ritchings as Dune Inspector
VOTE: Council Members Mercun, Hennessy, Tooker, Cervino, Dixon, Rizzo….YEA

Mayor Barrella made appointments to the committees listed below:
a) Planning Board
b) Municipal Alliance Committee
c) Tourism Advisory Committee
d) Safety Council
e) Recycling Task Force
f) NPP Committee
g) Parking Committee
h) Animal Welfare Committee

Mayor Barrella: acknowledged former Mayor and Council Members in attendance; thanked everyone for coming and extended best wishes to all for a Happy and Healthy New Year; congratulated Councilmen Hennessy and Rizzo and welcomed them to what has been a dedicated, hardworking, bipartisan team.
“We are fortunate in Point Pleasant Beach to have dozens of dedicated volunteers who give unselfishly of their time and energy serving on our various boards, committees and commissions. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. We are lucky to have two great volunteer fire companies and a first aid squad that is second to none. We are blessed to have a family of parents willing to volunteer their time and efforts on behalf of our most important resource, our children. Whether it be Little League, music parents, boy scouts or our recreational programs, our adult volunteers are the glue that holds it all together, because of their commitment to put the interests of our children ahead of their personal interests. Finally, I want to thank our uniformed and non-uniformed borough employees. Collectively they represent a dedicated group that I believe truly cares about the town.
Exactly two years ago to the day, Councilman Mercun in his remarks following his swearing in indicated that being a member of the governing body "is just about doing the right thing.” That is what the governing body tried to do this past year and I believe it is what this current governing body will do as well.
Those returning members of the Council should be proud of what they accomplished this past year. The residents and taxpayers of the Beach can take satisfaction from the fact that there has not been unanimity of thought, but rather open and lively debate amongst members of this Governing Body and interaction with members of the public before decisions were made. There is, however, still much work to be done.
In my remarks last year, I laid out as the two major problems confronting us the condition of our lakes and our financial condition. I am happy to report that with respect to Lake Louise, we have reached a settlement with DEP which provides a road map for its dredging. I have had discussions with our Freeholders, and the County has agreed to contribute funds to help defray the cost of this project.
Progress has also been made with respect to the Lake of the Lillies. The governing body has embraced a lake remediation strategy, which focuses not only on the cosmetic aspects of the problem, but the deeper problem - that the lake needs to be dredged. The development of a dredging plan has begun. This plan will form the basis for seeking financial support from both the County and the State commensurate with their respective responsibility for the lake's condition.
Last year I cautioned that the Beach was facing an impending financial crisis, indicating that we were entering a period of significant belt tightening. I also stated that we needed to end the practice of budgeting to the next election cycle.
Spending cuts have been made, for example, the council eliminated the position of Director of Public Works, a decision which saved our taxpayers approximately $100,000 per year. Agreements have been negotiated with our two non-uniform labor unions that are more favorable to the Borough then past agreements.
I do not believe that there is a single member of the Governing Body who is happy with the tax increase of this past year; it was, however, unavoidable. Last year, the Council started out with a surplus that was $900,000 less than that of the prior year. This shortfall was equal to 85% of the 2008 tax increase. In addition, last year the council provided a reserve for 2008 property tax appeal refunds. The prior Council did not set up a similar reserve for 2007 appeals. As a consequence, we took an additional hit in the 2008 budget for 2007 tax appeals. As promised at last year's reorganization meeting financial decisions this past year were made with an eye on the future not merely the current year.
In December, acting upon the advice of our CFO Christine Riehl, the Council cancelled a number of outstanding bond ordinances. By so doing, the Council can anticipate approximately $500,000 in capital surplus in the 2009 current fund budget. Had these bond ordinances been cancelled in December 2007, the $900,000 shortfall in opening surplus we experienced in 2008 would have been cut by more than half. In either case, however, this represents a one-time fix, which should not be allowed to obscure the fact that our principal revenues are essentially flat or down.
Last February, I suggested a plan to raise revenue from parking. This plan was based upon that which Councilman Cervino, Councilwoman Tooker and I had proposed during the 2007 campaign. In an effort to gain bipartisan support, I modified that plan to bring it more in line with that proposed by Councilman Dixon. Unfortunately, those who have benefited from the status quo were successful in distorting the goals of that plan, goals which the Asbury Park Press labeled as reasonable. The Press editorial board suggested, however, that the process be slowed down, and we responded to that request.
A bipartisan committee consisting of ten of your fellow residents, Councilman Dixon and Councilwoman Tooker was appointed in the spring to study this issue. I expect this committee to be concluding its work shortly, in time for the Council to consider whether to implement its recommendations so as to provide property tax relief to the taxpayers of Point Pleasant Beach this year.
In March of last year, the Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the state legislature to grant to Point Pleasant Beach the ability to raise revenue from tourism through the enactment of local option taxes. Obtaining the right to do so is not something that will happen overnight. It is, however, a necessity if Point Pleasant Beach is to be able to continue to provide the type of services, which has allowed our tourism industry to thrive. Ironically, some in the tourism sector seem unable or unwilling to grasp that a dirtier less safe Point Pleasant Beach is a far greater threat to our tourism industry than a 2% tax on alcohol or a 1% impact fee on the sale of a beach badge or a 3% tax on seasonal rentals and motels.
In seeking the right to levy local impact fees, the objective is not to generate additional revenue so that government can be expanded. Indeed it is important that the size of government be curtailed. The objective in seeking these additional revenue sources is to provide direct property tax relief to our taxpayers by shifting the costs they currently bear to those who enjoy the recreational resources and services Point Pleasant Beach provides. I have met with members of the legislature on both sides of the aisle in an effort to impress upon them the need to give the Beach taxpayers the same rights enjoyed by taxpayers in our larger communities, such as Atlantic City, and I will continue to do so in the upcoming year.
Be assured, however, that Point Pleasant Beach is committed to supporting its tourism industry. This past year we reactivated the Tourism Advisory Committee, which together with our Chamber of Commerce, has been active in seeking ways to promote the industry and expand the tourist season without adversely impacting our residents. The appointment of incoming chamber President Patrick English to the TAC committee should help cement that partnership. Councilman Cervino has done a great job as the liaison to the Tourism Advisory Committee. However, because of the connection between the tourism industry and the borough's finances I believed it best to have someone from our Finance committee act as liaison and, when Councilman Mercun indicated a willingness to do so, I decided to make a change. This solved two problems, as the Open Space committee needed council representation from both parties, which is why I recommended moving Councilman Cervino to that important position.
The fact that we are in the midst of a financial crisis, does not justify abrogating our responsibility to protect against over-development and preserve the limited open space within the Borough. A couple of weeks ago, the Borough closed on the purchase of the Risden’s property. In so doing, we averted the potential construction of four "McMansions" and preserved a landmark type structure in the existing bath-house. Councilman Mercun hopefully will expand on the condition of that building. The Council approached this purchase in a reasoned professional manner weighing the cost of the acquisition against both the revenue it anticipated the property will produce and most importantly its intrinsic value to the character of Point Pleasant Beach.
To those who believe, for whatever reason, that it is best to maintain the status quo, I offer the following. In November 2007, former Council President DiCicco read a quote from political theorist John Locke who stated ‘New opinions are suspected and usually opposed, without any reason but, because they are not already common.’
In summary, I am confident that this Governing Body will not be distracted from making those decisions necessary to insure the financial stability of Point Pleasant Beach and making sure that it remains a great place to live whether you are raising a family or enjoying your retirement.”

Councilman Hennessy: thanked all for coming; thanked all residents who elected him, will do his best to serve; thanked Councilmen DiCorcia and Loughran for their years of service, honored to be sitting in Councilman Loughran’s seat; thanked his family for supporting him throughout his life and mostly his wife who couldn't be here due to a fall down the stairs, which severely fractured her leg, necessitating an immediate C-Section and leg surgery – thanked First Aid Squad and Police Department for their swift action and comfort; looking forward to upcoming year – have to tighten our belts, trying times – see businesses failing, everyday.

Councilman Mercun: wished all a Happy New Year; welcomed Councilmen Rizzo and Hennessy – looking forward to working with them; has strived not to follow party lines when it comes to this town – how elected officials deal with the problems/issues facing residents and taxpayers is paramount – represents all and accepts criticism and guidance from those he represents; on Finance Committee last year and again this year – not going to cry gloom and doom – all read about it and are experiencing hard times – cannot keep going to the well of the taxpayer, the well has run dry – taxpayers are confronted with their own financial problems every day – disposable income for most is non-existent – goal is to keep taxes down, but cannot promise same – can promise this is the time for belt tightening – government can no longer institute projects it cannot reasonably pay for and diverting this Council's responsibility to the next Council is not an option – going to see cutbacks on some services – there has to be a balancing – if looking at layoffs, must look at less services – all are going to have to sacrifice – can be assured of the fact that someone is going to be watching the purse strings; went on a walk-through at Risden’s – outside belied the inside condition – went with Borough Engineer and Green Acres appraisers – amazed at the condition of support system and the flooring, which is solid – was clean and well kept with modern appliances, including an up-to-date fire suppression system – looked like you could open tomorrow and start running it again – awaiting reports from Borough Engineer, two Green Acres appraisers and two Green Acres representatives, who were sent by the State – State representatives had nothing but favorable comments on what they saw – thanked Councilman Loughran for pointing Council in that direction.

Councilman Tooker: recapped last year’s accomplishments and talked about goals for the coming year – attended more than 100 meetings last year, but worth it because, at local level, you can make measurable progress, if dedicated and put the time in – been involved with six committees with amazing volunteers; major priority is securing alternative revenue sources and stabilizing the tax rate – thanked Council, especially Mayor Barrella and Councilman Mercun for working on this task – not an easy town to run, in that town doesn’t own its beaches and has limited revenue sources; Parking Committee volunteers have been working hard on plan fair to all residents and taxpayers – want to raise much needed revenue from the tourists, who benefit by coming here and the excellent services provided to them – many shore municipalities have permit and paid parking, not re-inventing the wheel – will soon have some very well-researched recommendations from the Committee; Environmental Commission installed recycling containers and signage at the Inlet – installed “Anti-Idling” signs by the schools – sponsored dune grass plantings, along with CRAB and the High School Environmental Club – working with “Save Barnegat Bay’ on combating non-point source pollution – educating the public on using less fertilizer, planting rain gardens and using native plants – redoing storm-water management regulations – signed onto “Cool Cities” initiative, joined Brick Renewable Energy Committee and are exploring alternative energy sources; Shade Tree has been working hard on ordinance, which balances the rights of property owners with the need to protect the environment – hope to introduce within next few weeks –– started a memorial tree program and implemented a forestry management plan; recycling is up 10% which translates into major tax savings – implemented stickers and door hangers to aid with enforcement and get more residents on board – looking at outside vendors to increase revenues – Boardwalk businesses implemented recycling program – thanked Jenkinsons’ and Martell’s for getting program up and running in a small amount of time; Planning Board has heard some big cases – looking to redo Master Plan, town has changed – started pulling recommendations from last Master Plan review and getting ordinances up and running; been working with Historic Preservation Committee and will hopefully be making recommendations to save town’s historic structures; Animal Welfare Committee is an amazing group – had four goals, which were met within the first year – established TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return) program – implemented pet friendly shelters and hope to implement humane geese control program – thanked Dave Cavagnaro and Vince Castin for their input – TNR has been a great success, with no cost to the taxpayer; along with CRAB, have improved Maryland Avenue Beach, along with car and bicycle parking – working on a new access point, which will hopefully provide handicap access; continue to work on Lake of the Lillies with Councilman Mercun; instituted senior activities through the Recreation Committee; started a quarterly newsletter in conjunction with the Board of Education and made improvements to the Borough web-site to keep residents informed through announcements; thanked professionals, fellow Council Members and Borough staff for their help; blessed to live here in Point Pleasant Beach; wished all a Happy New Year; welcomed Councilmen Hennessy and Rizzo; thanked family and friends for support.

Councilman Cervino: congratulated Hennessy and Rizzo families; strange not seeing Councilmen Loughran and DiCorcia here; grateful for chance to serve town and look forward to next two years; like to see more programs for our “seasoned” citizens – they are all walking libraries; Councilman Mercun mentioned finance realities – have mentioned “Pay as you Go” in the past – if the Governing Body can't pay for something, it shouldn't even be approached; reminded all about fire company fundraiser – appreciate all those volunteers do, as well as the efforts of the First Aid Squad; would like to see property, by railroad tracks, developed and paved for parking with utilization of a jitney service, perhaps; have mentioned three C's (collegiality civility and courtesy) in the past– live in a very uncivil society – in this chamber, the three C's ought to be abided by, and not only by those sitting on the dais – once someone raises their voice, they have lost the argument; saw article in paper about the Board of Education budget meeting and their surprise that only a few people showed up – taxes are comprised, in percentage order, by 1) Board of Education, 2) County and 3) Municipality; geese on school fields are a problem that needs to be looked into – wood on school field will be removed shortly; hope Council will continue to look at raising revenue from other sources instead of taxing a small segment – in this economy, and as being pro business, will continue to look at the reduction and possible elimination of the hotel/motel tax; thanked all for past year and look forward to the next two years; wished all a Happy New Year.
Mayor Barrella: need to extend hotel/motel tax to seasonal rentals to make a fairer, more competitive market for hotels, which are unfairly burdened by this tax.

Councilman Dixon: wished all a Happy and Safe New Year; congratulated Councilmen Hennessy and Rizzo; wished Mrs. Hennessy a speedy recovery; will continue to do what's best for the residents of Point Pleasant Beach.

Councilman Rizzo: thanked all for coming and wished them a Happy New Year; thanked those who voted for him; in 2001, was a 99% done deal that Lake of the Lillies was going to be dredged, but in today’s comments heard no concrete time; bothered about recycling and waste; while working as Code Enforcement Officer, enforced and at no time divulged any names on complaints – assured all that he will follow through on any complaints, as long as they are factual, containing names, places and times; as to Mr. Loder’s last comment in newspaper, was looking into this matter and will continue to do so.
Mayor Barrella: the oldest members of this Council have only served for two years – living on Lake Louise would make Councilman Rizzo aware of how long it took to dredge that lake, which now has DEP approval, but dredging must still wait because it can only be done between October and December.
Councilman Mercun: Governing Body did bring in professionals and adopted a plan for maintenance of shoreline and dredging – CMX was out on Wednesday doing testing on sediment, because the DEP permit will only allow dredging to the known historic depth – with respect to the shoreline, unfortunately litigation, an environmental notice, was filed – felt it best to allow the judge to hear the application, again, regarding the issue of removing phragmites – hopefully, will get a final and lasting resolution from Judge Grasso, so Council can move forward and get this plan implemented – can approve plans, but every time a piece of litigation is filed, we are set back; going to ask Counsel, should motions be made to revisit items already determined by the Court, to demand that the Borough be reimbursed for attorney’s fees for frivolous litigation.
Mayor Barrella: asked Councilman Rizzo to sit with Councilman Mercun and rest of Finance Committee to share information on the hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings that were referenced in his Letter to the Editor; asked Councilman Rizzo to provide Councilman Mercun, himself and the Borough Administrator with any evidence he may have on his allegation of employees coming in late, leaving early or otherwise abusing their jobs – cannot tolerate that if it is occurring – if there are no facts, an open apology to Borough employees is needed.
Councilman Mercun: allowed free exchange of ideas at meetings and have allowed many to speak – however, must remind everyone, that “New York Times” v Sullivan, a US Supreme Court case governing the protection of citizens’ rights to speak freely about members of public office, cautions that if one makes statements that are false, without due regard for the facts and the truth, they are no longer protected from being litigated – reminded all to be mindful of the fact, that if a speaker accuses people of criminal conduct, that speaker should have the facts to back up his allegations, otherwise he will have to deal with having suit brought against him for slander or libel – will not allow town to be party to that lawsuit, through failure to inform a speaker that he has stepped over the line.

Father Curt Kreml of St. Peter Roman Catholic Church gave the Benediction.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:27 p.m.


Published February06, 2009 | Council Minutes | 738


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