A SPECIAL PUBLIC BUDGET MEETING OF THE VILLAGE COUNCIL OF THE VILLAGE OF RIDGEWOOD HELD IN THE SYDNEY V. STOLDT, JR. COURT ROOM OF THE RIDGEWOOD VILLAGE HALL, 131 NORTH MAPLE AVENUE, RIDGEWOD, NEW JERSEY ON MARCH 4, 2019 AT 7:30 P.M.
1. CALL TO ORDER – OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS ACT – ROLL CALL – FLAG SALUTE
Mayor Hache called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. and read the Statement of Compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act. At roll call the following were present: Councilmembers Knudsen, Sedon, Walsh, and Mayor Hache. Also present were Heather Mailander, Village Manager/Village Clerk; Bob Rooney, Village CFO; and Steve Sanzari, Village Treasurer. Councilman Voigt was absent.
Mayor Hache led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag as well as in a Moment of Silence to honor the brave men and women serving in our armed forces and all our first responders.
A. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
There were no comments from the public.
B. DISCUSSION ITEMS
a. Review of Departmental Budgets and Capital Budgets
1. Police Department
Chief Jaqueline Luthcke, Captain William Amoruso, and Captain Forest Lyons were present for the Police Department budget presentation. Chief Luthcke stated that last year, they didn’t have some of the big cases that they have had in prior years, and they didn’t have any of the major storms that occurred in prior years. However, last year their biggest case was a hit and run, with a fatality, in Garber Square. It took the entirety of the Police force, from the initial investigation at the scene, to having every officer stop every matching vehicle, so that they could find the individual involved. The Signal Department even came in at the middle of the night to help them review some video tape at the location of the accident. They were able to efficiently manage all of their training last year, in order to minimize the cost impact to the Village.
Chief Luthcke stated that they were involved in approximately 7,000 hours of training, and about 400 hours to conduct their Junior Police Academy, all while managing to keep their overtime budget under the $380,000 that they were given last year. Providing they can maintain that overtime, it would keep them at just about 6% of their total budget for their overtime budget, while most Police agencies average between 8% and 10%. Chief Luthcke added that they were also able to get creative, as one of the things that they put into their Capital budget last year was new raincoats. They had placed the order for them, and they came in under budget, which means they are very close to being able to order their winter coats because their budget still has $5,000 in it, to help with the purchase of winter coats for the entire Police Department.
Chief Luthcke stated that one of her goals for 2019, include redacting videos. This requires specific software in order to get through all of the audio and video from the Police Officers cameras, which is very labor intensive. It is hours of work and she would be looking to hire a civilian position to be able to help with this, as well as adding hours to the Police records room, and eventually down the line this civilian position would assist with accreditation as well. She added that they are working with the Fire Department and Emergency Services to create some tabletop exercises, and they just conducted their first joint training for active shooter with the Fire Department, Emergency Services, and the Rescue Task Force Team. She added that they had Velley Hospital and Paramedics as well, so it was a nice joint venture.
Chief Luthcke added that they would like to hire additional officers, so that she can get people back into the Traffic Bureau, which is one of the big complaints that residents have. Adding bodies back to the Traffic Bureau, and continuing to put new people in, so that they can prepare for the School Resource Officer position. In addition to the development of some community policing teams which would help them continue the walking post, bicycle patrol, motorcycle patrol, as well as maintaining a high visibility presence in the CBD.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked if the training hours that were given were mandatory training. Chief Luthcke stated that most of those hours were mandatory training; however, some training is not mandatory, but is critical, and there is some career training as well. Councilwoman Knudsen asked for clarification on the number of hours for the Junior Police Academy. Chief Luthcke stated that it was about 400 hours, and they are having to limit the program to 100 kids, which is as much as they can manage in order to have enough adults to supervise.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked in terms of staffing numbers for the Traffic Bureau, what was the timeline on that. Chief Luthcke stated that they have one individual right now on field training, and when he comes off that, then he will go right into Traffic Bureau. For the Community Policing Unit that she envisions, ideally if she has another two individuals to start to make a squad, it would be perfect.
Councilman Sedon stated that there have been some years where the overtime was very high, such as in 2016, and in 2012, 2013, and 2014 it was much lower. He added that it seems like this $350,000 for overtime in 2019 is reasonable. Chief Luthcke stated that it seems like this $350,000 for the overtime budget, while being on the lower level, is reasonable barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that in their conversations in Closed Session regarding the entire Police budget, the question that keeps coming up is the total budget, this budget, and their capital budget. There are concerns that it is difficult for the municipal piece to keep going up, and Chief Luthcke didn’t really talk about any cost saving measures for the year. Chief Luthcke stated that was difficult, and obviously they are always looking at the budget to ensure the services, while containing the costs. She added that she doesn’t think there are any major changes in it from year to year, and the biggest change has been the overtime, which they always try to keep as low as they can and that is a battle. Things like raincoats and winter jackets are ten years old and just don’t have the same thermal or waterproof qualities after a number of years. She added that they aren’t asking for things that are unreasonable, and they have had some of that give and take. Chief Luthcke stated that she would love to get a tracking system so that every piece of equipment is in a computer system and it is being checked in and out and it logs when there is a problem with it. It is something that they have been asking for, for years, and it just isn’t realistic in their budget right now.
Mayor Hache stated that he didn’t see the jackets included in a line item this year or last year. Ms. Mailander stated that it was in the Capital Budget. Mayor Hache stated that one of the things that he saw was related to vehicle leasing, as it looks like there was a 23% reduction from last year to this year. Mr. Rooney stated that there are currently five vehicles that are in the lease program. Last year, a pickup truck was also leased which isn’t being done this year, so the budget should have gone down. The leasing program is very effective as it includes maintenance on the vehicles. Mayor Hache stated that looking at the detail, it shows 2018 had $70,000, and 2019 is $54,000. Mr. Rooney stated that looking at the two columns under 2019, the $54,000 is correct. If he wants to look at what was actually spent for that line, go to the summary sheet where it says “Lease.” There was some additional discussion on where to find the 2018 numbers.
Mayor Hache asked about E-ticket. Chief Luthcke stated that was electronic ticketing that the Police Officers use now. Every vehicle has it, and all of the Parking Enforcement Officers have it. It makes it considerably easier, and the Village has helped the company develop that program. They have a meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss selling that program to other Police Departments, with the Village Police Department being a host for that.
Mayor Hache added that he knew there was a motorcycle that was donated. Chief Luthcke stated that a motorcycle was donated, and that it needed some work, as it was not in the best shape. The officers use it sparingly because they are trying to make it last so they can bring it to the big events, which is why she keeps asking for another motorcycle. She added that it doesn’t have the big equipment on it like a radio and computer.
Mayor Hache asked about the School Resource Officer and where they would see the offset from the Board of Education in the budget. Mr. Rooney responded to that question.
Looking at the capital budget, Ms. Mailander stated that there are two new Tahoes, as well as body armor replacement, weapons replacement, lethal equipment, live scan, rescue equipment, portable radios, car and body cameras, and winter jackets. The last one is the vehicle barricades. The Records Room bulletproof glass, and the air conditioning they are doing through overall projects. There is also $100,000 in the budget for the auxiliary Police station in the Central Business District, which would be located in the renovated taxi stand.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked for background on the Tahoes and what they are replacing. Captain Amoruso stated that they are taking two vehicles out of service, one they currently use as a decoy car and another one is car 13, which is their oldest Explorer.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that she had wanted to ask a question about the shooting range that was discussed in Closed Session. Ms. Mailander stated that it wouldn’t be in this budget, and if they were to build a new shooting range, it would be in a separate bond ordinance.
2. Fire Department
Chief James Van Goor stated that accomplishments for 2018, they responded to 3,504 emergency calls and conducted 3,293 fire prevention inspections. They purchased a new rescue truck to replace a 1998 truck, hired and trained two Firefighters to replace two who retired. They did a lot of community outreach by hosting an open house, Fire Prevention Month, held Fire Safety education classes, Sunday school drills, Touch A Truck, hosted classes on leadership, Fire Inspector Certification, Firefighter Emergency Medical Technicians, and active shooter training. He added that they also were reinspected by ISO the Insurance Services Organization and were able to maintain their two rating. They received a grant from FM Global Insurance to purchase computers for the Fire Prevention Bureau, and also received six new bulletproof vests and helmets, through a grant from the County.
Chief Van Goor stated this year, they are looking to hire one Firefighter in May possibly, as they had someone retire in January. They are looking into grant opportunities, and may increase fire prevention fees this year, as they haven’t done so since 2011. He stated that the operating budget is pretty much flat. Although, the salaries and wages increased, it is still less than it was in the 2013 budget.
Councilman Sedon stated that he did a good job on keeping the budget flat for as long as he had, but asked if he could explain compensation pay. Mr. Sanzari stated that contractually, the Fire Department is able to purchase back sick or vacation time, so that pay is charged to the following year. This year it was $55,000 paid in January 2019 for pay in December last year, and this occurs every year.
Councilwoman Walsh asked how often the Fire Department finds violations in the inspections or if it is cursory. Chief Van Goor stated that they found 1,900 violations last year, but the number at each location can vary and could be as small as having an extension cord or their emergency bulbs are out. Councilwoman Walsh asked for the timeframe to correct the violations. Chief Van Goor stated that it is two weeks, but they could ask for an extension. Councilwoman Walsh asked for the timeframe to correct the violations. Chief Van Goor stated that they still do the home inspections.
Councilwoman Walsh asked if the Fire Department received their grants with the assistance of the grant writer. Chief Van Goor stated that they used the grant writer to apply for two grants, and the grant for the County he applied on his own. Councilwoman Knudsen asked which grant written by the grant writer was awarded. Chief Van Goor stated that the grant writer received the FM Global grant, and he did the work for the County grant himself.
Chief Van Goor stated that for the Capital Budget, they are looking to replace a 1994 Fire Engine that is beyond its useful life, is unreliable, and for which it is difficult to get parts. Typically they try and replace them after 20 years. It takes 6 months to do research and put the order in, and then it takes a year to get the vehicle, so they would expect it at the end of 2020. Councilwoman Knudsen asked what took so long to replace the 1989 Pierce. Chief Van Goor stated that was a rescue truck which was undersized when they got it, and since then they have taken on so many jobs and gotten so much equipment, it wasn’t useful anymore. Mr. Rooney asked if they would use the Galveston-Houston Purchasing Cooperative. Chief Van Goor stated that they would probably use them for this new truck.
Councilman Sedon asked if it was absolutely necessary to replace this Fire Engine. Chief Van Goor stated that it takes a year and a half to get it, so if they order it now, the other truck will be 26 years old when the new one is ready. The problem is that for ten years, they didn’t replace any vehicles, and now they are trying to catch up. Councilman Sedon asked after this vehicle, were there any other big ticket vehicles that they see coming up. Chief Van Goor stated that the next one is a 2000, so they have time.
Ms. Mailander stated that they also have the $60,000 for the upgraded communication system. Chief Van Goor stated that around the Willard School, the communication gets difficult as the repeater is up at the water tower, so he wanted to add another one at Willard School. They had a fire there last year and they had a hard time communicating, and they couldn’t even talk to the fire engine that was right down the street, since the radios weren’t hitting the repeater at the tower. They have the fiber network at Willard School, so it wouldn’t be that difficult to add another receiver site to it. Ms. Mailander stated that the final item is resurfacing the parking lot at the 311 West Glen Avenue Firehouse. Chief Van Goor stated that it hasn’t been repaved over the last 33 years, and they added a drainage system, so it is all torn up. He added that the Engineering Department looked at it and they wanted to replace the sidewalks, apron, and bring it up to today’s standard. Ms. Mailander added that when they bid out the train station reconfiguration this was part of the bid, and it was just a matter of having the funding in place after the Village Council agrees to it.
3. Village Attorney
Ms. Mailander stated that this budget includes the Prosecutor, Labor Attorney, as well as the Village Attorney. The Prosecutor is the biggest increase, her understanding is that they are paying a little more, but are also bringing more revenue into the court. Tax appeals are anticipated to increase in 2019.
Mr. Rooney stated that in discussion with Standard & Poors (S&P) during their ratings, they had suggested that the Village start to consider funding any tax appeals that occur during the year. They have been very fortunate during the years that they haven’t had large impacts, but the way real estate is going right now, they might start to see a little blip in it. They decided to put $75,000 into the budget which is flexible and they can reduce it if they need to do so. At least they are putting the money aside, in case they need it for the tax appeals, and are satisfying S&Ps view of how they are managing the Village.
Mayor Hache stated that he was trying to get an idea of what $75,000 will provide for the tax appeals and how much a tax appeal costs. Mr. Rooney stated that for 2019, they had about $1.6 million in refunds that was compounded with the tax prepayments that they had in 2018, so it was difficult. In speaking with Mike Barker, the Tax Assessor, they are all in consensus that things are going to start to ratchet up. He can look into getting an actual number, but it is not clear at this time. Mayor Hache stated that it is important, and he is sure that Mr. Barker has an idea of what percentage might be looking at an appeal. Mr. Rooney stated that he would get some more exact information on that. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if Mr. Rogers handled the tax appeals. Mr. Rooney stated that it could be just Mr. Rogers or it could be other attorneys as they get involved, as it depends on what kind of appeal.
Councilwoman Knudsen stated that the $375,000 in 2018 actual, made her confused as to the $75,000 and why that was in the line now. She asked if that amount was extracted out in the past. Mr. Rooney stated this was to pay for the successful tax appeals, and that they hadn’t accounted for that in the past and instead had paid it out of current operations. Now that they feel that tax appeals might escalate, they are putting some money in the budget to pay for it. Councilwoman Knudsen asked if they could extract out that information and figure out how much that 2018 number should be. Councilwoman Walsh stated that it is usually $500 to $1,000 looking at Mr. Rogers’ bills. Mr. Rooney stated that the $375,000 is not related. Councilwoman Knudsen stated she was wondering why they don’t see that line there. Mr. Rooney stated it is pretty flat and is wrapped into Mr. Rogers’ normal billings. Now what he is saying is if the cost to defend for tax appeals is going to start to climb, they may want to bank it so it isn’t just Mr. Rogers’ fees, it may be other attorneys’ fees as well.
4. Municipal Court
Maria Doerr, Municipal Court Administrator, stated that for all of 2018 they handed over to the Village $693,091 as compared to 2017 which wasn’t a bad year in itself of $622,549, so that was a pretty significant increase. Not only in the revenue do they see the difference, but their time on the bench is down about 34%, so they aren’t here until 10:00 P.M. on court day all the time. The other improvement that they have seen is regarding the leaf summons trials, because they were able to have someone plead not guilty, and then hear the case the same night. This was the biggest complaint previously, that they had heard in terms of individuals coming to plead a case and waiting a few hours only to hear that they had to return for a trial date. Ms. Doerr added that shorter court sessions also mean less Police overtime. They have eliminated the position of the Police Liaison, so they went from three officers to two officers on overtime on court day. They don’t seem to have as many subpoenas that are in circulation this year, which is that many less Police Officers that they have in court. The court operations have become much more efficient, in addition to the revenue that has come in.
Ms. Doerr stated that in terms of 2018 accomplishments, a big one was trying to streamline the court process, the other one is their new video system for the jails which they are in the last leg of wiring and hopefully they will be up and running in about a month. This video system means they no longer have to transport prisoners from any jail in the state, which is a public safety issue and causes Police overtime. They had this in the caucus room and it has been out of service for about a year because the lines that were required are obsolete, so now they have a web based system and will be able to hook into Bergen County. Over the last couple of weeks, they had a need to talk to a prisoner in a jail in Southern New Jersey. Now, they will be able to do that in a public court room, in the public, on the record, so they are looking forward to having that in operation soon.
Ms. Doerr stated that on the top of their list for 2019 is that they want to overhaul their filing system so that they can completely vacate the storage room downstairs and maybe make that storage space available to some other Departments. They have caught up on all of their records destruction, so are in a great position to get that done in the next couple of months. They are down a position; the Deputy Court Administrator has moved up and gone to be the Court Administrator for the Borough of Dumont.
Ms. Doerr explained that there is a change in the paradigm going on with the judiciary where they are becoming less monetary focused and are going to caution municipalities and CFOs not to budget for court revenue and court income. This is basically as a result of the events that happened in Ferguson, Missouri in 2015 that resulted in the New Jersey Judiciary taking a good hard look at what the focus is in the court in terms of revenue as opposed to just delivering justice. They did form a committee that came out with 49 different recommendations. Their concerns were that there were excessive impositions of financial obligations on people, as well as the use of bench warrants and license suspensions as collection mechanisms, which they wanted to get away from. Ms. Doerr stated that, to that end, many municipalities can be cautioned not to budget for court revenue as it won’t be the courts’ primary focus. Her understanding is the recommendation is that they will turn to a civil collection procedure, which will be completely automated and will not involve the municipal attorney, because they don’t want to see the municipalities get an expense on that end. It could be that issuing bench warrants and suspending people’s licenses will be few and far between. That will make an impact on revenue, but they feel that if they can turn to a civil means to get the revenue, the municipalities will get the revenue in the long run.
Ms. Mailander stated that Ms. Doerr had mentioned that they may impose community service as an alternative to a fine. Ms. Doerr stated that they wanted the court to offer payment alternatives to people, such as community service, which would reduce the amount they owe to the court. They also have financial hearings where people have to show a true inability to pay their financial obligations, but they do have to offer them a payment alternative and that alternative could be reducing the fine and what they owe. They will still continue what they are doing, because they are successful at it, but it may be something in the future that they may see a drop in court revenue.
Ms. Mailander stated that there was no Capital Budget for the Municipal Court. Ms. Doerr agreed and stated that there really was no big change over last year. Councilwoman Walsh asked if Ferguson was a New Jersey ruling or was a national program. Ms. Doerr stated that it seemed to have resulted in a number of court systems throughout the nation to look at what their focus is, and that their focus should not just be financial and that the court should not be looked at like a cash register for municipalities. Councilwoman Walsh asked if that would impact how they do their job to make sure that people follow the law. Ms. Doerr gave an example that if she gets a phone call that Wayne Police has someone on a warrant, because they owe the Village $900 in fines, the question is do they let them go or put them in jail. They will now let them go and tell them to be in court on Thursday. If they don’t go to court on Thursday, the warrant gets reissued, and it goes in a big cycle. The thought process is if they suspend their license they lose their job, and if they lose their job they can’t pay their fines. The intent and the spirit behind it is to break the cycle and perhaps give somebody the opportunity to keep their employment with the hope that they would take care of their financial obligation. In terms of resources, picking that person up is two Police Officers who have to pick them up and bring them to jail. If they can’t video them, then they have to pick them up from jail and bring them to Ridgewood for court. She added that she doesn’t think it will impact on the enforcement side, but rather on the court side.
Mayor Hache asked if there was some sort of a hardship hearing, instead of chasing this person around. Ms. Doerr stated that is something that they do now, adding that the Judge is very good at making that clear. If they have someone that has been picked up and released nine different times, the question is whether this is an efficient use of Police resources. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that it was interesting that there was an effort to break that cycle, but presumably there should be an effort to break a different cycle of whatever the initial incarceration was. She wondered if they had someone who was picked up nine times, what the offenses could be. Ms. Doerr stated that it could be driving while suspended, so the State goes back to if they don’t suspend them in the first place, then they don’t get driving while suspended. This goes back to the foundational issue, but by the same token if they have $900, now the judge can give them a credit of $200 a day for every day spent in jail. The Judge’s idea is that credit has to go to Ridgewood. At the end of the day, they can’t keep anyone in jail for more than four days, and it becomes resources versus is this case going to get resolved if they do this.
Ms. Doerr stated that they may be looking at implementing credit cards for the automated collection at no charge to the Village, meaning the State is going to step in and pass the legislation that they need to pass that fee onto the individual. Taking credit cards has been something on the top of their list to do, but they will wait for the State to step in and take over.
5. Parking Utility
Mr. Rooney stated that they are looking at the same number of Parking Enforcement Officers for this year and the other expenses are relatively flat as well.
Councilman Sedon asked about the anticipated revenue, and if they could anticipate revenue that they would have from the increase in the parking meter fees. Mr. Rooney stated that the increased parking meter fees went into effect in September and he is allowed to anticipate up to $1,576,000, which is what he collected in 2018. He chose to keep the budget flat and accumulate that money so they can keep it for future debt service, as that was the intent of getting the increases in there. With the timing of the garage he has no operating expenses to worry about, so they are using 2019 to bring some revenue in and put some money aside. Councilman Sedon asked when the first bond payment would have to be made for the construction of the Hudson Street Garage. Mr. Rooney stated that they have two years, so they can do the same thing next year. Councilman Sedon asked how he would see the increases playing out and if he saw the costs being able to cover the debt service for the garage. Mr. Rooney said yes, and they look at the Walker Study as to when the next parking meter increase should be implemented, depending on the revenue stream. He will know better at the end of 2019, as to how that is working.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the anticipated revenue. Mr. Rooney stated that the realized revenue in 2018 is $1,576,000 which is what can be anticipated in the 2019 budget.
Mayor Hache asked under kiosks and the expectation that they would see a 20% improvement in the collection rate, and asked how that was playing out so far. Mr. Rooney stated that he just finished that analysis this afternoon, and it would be presented to the Village Council on Wednesday at the March 6, 2019 Work Session.
Mr. Rooney stated that in the capital budget for the Parking Utility, he put money in for kiosks and cameras Village-wide, assuming they want to continue the use of kiosks. He also put $60,000 for a license plate reader that the PEO’s will use on the street and in the garage when that time comes.
Mayor Hache asked about the budget for the kiosks and how many it would cover. Mr. Rooney stated that the money in the budget would probably cover another ten kiosks. Councilwoman Walsh stated that the Chamber of Commerce is not a fan of the kiosks, and according to the Chamber they are getting lots of complaints from shoppers and diners that the kiosks are difficult to use, are not used when people are coming in and going out quickly, and are wasting money. She added that it has been a topic of conversation at the Chamber of Commerce meetings over the past three months, that the kiosks are a challenge.
Mayor Hache added that in Bethesda, Maryland he used a kiosk and had the ability to put in money, but when he pulled up it said that he could park for another hour and fifty six minutes because it started counting the time when he pulled up. Mr. Rooney stated that the downside to that is you have someone who has a child who has to get them out of the car and into a stroller and it is eating away at the time before they even put the money in. He added that he could look into how much a block would cost of that type of meter, and added that they were doing their best to get rid of coins. If they didn’t want a kiosk and want to stay with a meter, meters like that may be effective depending on what the cost is. Councilwoman Walsh added that was the conversation, as in California each meter has the swipe. She added that her point was that they want to get away from the coinage and the Chamber is saying that senior citizens aren’t going to want to use the swipe. There might be a senior citizen who comes in who has their change and does not have the ability to use the kiosk or a credit card, and they can still do that in certain areas, but if the plan is to get away from coinage it will be a challenge for some people.
Councilman Sedon stated that the kiosk takes coinage and he has used them with coins, bills, and credit cards. There are kiosks all over New York City, and you can still use change too it’s not like they are eliminating anybody. Councilwoman Walsh stated that she went to the Cottage Place lot and used Parkmobile, and there was an elderly woman staring at the kiosk sign but she didn’t know what to do and said she would not put money in and just get a ticket. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that people might not understand that there is the option that it has coins and they think they have to do something that’s more technical. There was some additional discussion about the meters versus kiosk and convenience. Mayor Hache added that some may find the kiosk more inconvenient.
Councilwoman Knudsen suggested that the resolution would be to add another kiosk. Councilwoman Walsh stated that there are people who just don’t want to use the kiosk. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that maybe the Chamber of Commerce has the opportunity to do some education themselves and assist, because everything that the Village Council has done has been to fund a garage to make certain that’s there for them and it is something that they wanted. The kiosk was to minimize quarter thefts and there were a number of initiatives that they took, but it all was with the end goal of funding the parking garage. Councilwoman Walsh stated that they see that too, but the kiosk just doesn’t work. Mayor Hache suggested the Chamber of Commerce make a video regarding the use of the kiosk.
Councilwoman Walsh stated that when they were introducing Parkmobile, she was convinced that she would never use the application, and now she uses it all the time and tells everyone about it. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that it was eye-opening when they had the issue with Parkmobile and the money that was going out to them that wasn’t supposed to go to them. When they first received all of the data, the sheer number of users was astonishing and she imagines it’s even more now. She added that there maybe a handful of people that need to adapt, but she thinks they need to continue moving forward unless the Chamber of Commerce has a serious alternate solution. Councilwoman Walsh stated that they understand that the Village has kiosks and Parkmobile, and that they are transitioning, but they are countering that with saying a lot of people still want the quarter meters.
Mayor Hache asked if people were just resistant to change. Mr. Rooney stated that he thought part of it was, when you get out of your car and you have a meter you are right there and you go, now you have to walk thirty to forty feet to put money in, so it is an inconvenience. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that everyone has been advised and is aware that there are employees in the CBD who wait until the PEO’s are in the vicinity and run out and put money into the meters. It wouldn’t surprise her if that wasn’t an issue as well because now they would have to run up to the kiosk. She added that she considers it a theft of the parking service, if you are not going to put the money in and are taking up the space deliberately. Councilwoman Walsh stated that in Sag Harbor, New York the chalking of the tires works like a charm. Ms. Mailander stated that they could do it, but people claimed that the Village was putting graffiti on their tires and came out with spray bottles and removed the chalk. Councilwoman Knudsen stated that if someone is in a Village-owned parking space you are open to that scrutiny if you decide that you are going to use that particular service, and maybe they need something in the Village code that attributes a significant fine for washing chalk marks off of tires. If people are going to interfere with the Village’s parking enforcement and the legal right to enforce parking, then maybe an ordinance should be adopted.
6. Trust Funds
Mr. Rooney stated that there is about $5.1 million in various trust funds that cannot be used for anything other than the specific purpose that it’s collected for. There are about seventeen different accounts in here, and the biggest one is the escrow deposits that they hold for any type of developments that are going on. Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the disbursements and whether it was for the turf field. Mr. Rooney stated that it was. Councilwoman Knudsen asked about the COAH development fees and if it was reflecting any of the developments in the CBD. Mr. Sanzari stated that those fees are generated once the assessor issues the permit for occupancy, so it is a combination for the COAH fees. Those are various fees collected over the last ten years, for instance Stop and Shop when it was completed had to pay a COAH fee, as does any other new development.
Mayor Hache asked about the Police outside duties, and how they end up with a balance. Mr. Sanzari stated that there is usually a lag between pay periods and when they disburse the total funds. The balance could be payroll and administration fees that they will realize some of those funds. The payroll could go two weeks to a month, depending on when they submit the overtime sheets to payroll.
Ms. Mailander stated that they are planning on carpeting the court room, caucus room, and the outer Manager’s office and 5th floor conference room, because the carpeting has been here since 2005 and is showing signs of wear. The carpeting in the Court room in particular is too light in color for the use that this room gets. They are installing carpeting tiles. Mr. Rooney stated that they had the elevator done with all carpeting tiles, and they would do the same thing in here with a similar color to the elevator as well. Ms. Mailander added that the Police Department blinds are very old, so they will replace blinds in some offices. The total proposed capital right now is $7.1 million, which was originally proposed at $15 million. Mr. Rooney and Ms. Mailander whittled the amounts down, and then the final step is for all Department Directors to get together to see what they can give up until next year, in order to purchase certain items this year.
Mayor Hache asked if there was any type of carpeting that could help with the sound. Ms. Mailander stated that the new sound system Mr. Hansen has come up with should work. Mr. Hansen stated that he got a quote from a cooperative vendor that they dealt with for the recording system. They came in and measured the room and gave recommendations. They will put sound boards in the dome area and then they are changing some of the switches and equalizers in the back to compensate for the echo. They will also add two more speakers to the back area, to compensate for the area where they are not getting sound for the audience. He will arrange for them to start installing on a Friday, Saturday, and Monday so it does not interfere with meeting schedules in the Court Room.
Councilwoman Knudsen asked if the company is going to guarantee their work. Mr. Hansen stated that they said that they were going to improve the sound. Councilwoman Knudsen asked what happens if it is just a marginal improvement. Mr. Hansen stated that the company came in under budget for these sound improvements, so he is pretty confident that they are going to improve the sound in the Court Room. The equipment they are putting in eliminates the feedback that he encounters when he turns up the microphones. They will balance out all the audio for voice so that it carries better throughout the room, and the soundboard material should stop a lot of the echoes that are currently heard. He added that he was confident that it was going to be a significant change.
b. Wrap-up and Next Steps
Ms. Mailander stated that their next Budget Meeting is March 8, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with Library, Parks and Recreation, Graydon, Project Pride, Community Center, Emergency Services, Emergency Management, Current Fund Revenues, Head Count, Overall Budget, Wrap Up and Setting of the Tax Rate. Their plan is that they are introducing the budget at the March 13th Public Meeting, with the Public Hearing and adoption at the April 10th Public Meeting. They will actually have the budget adopted in the timeframe in the statute, for the first time in decades.
C. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
There were no comments from the public.
There being no further business to come before the Village Council, on a motion by Councilwoman Knudsen, seconded by Councilwoman Walsh, and carried unanimously by voice vote, the Village Council’s Special Public Budget Meeting was adjourned at 8:57 P.M.
Ramon M. Hache, Sr.
Heather A. Mailander
Village Manager/Village Clerk
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