Sunday, July 22, 2007

BoS Meeting 7/19/2007

Not one reporter attended this night's meeting! The agenda was short, the business meeting was brief but not unimportant. There was more on the Fort James III/Norfolk Southern rail crossing stalemate. The conditions of approval for the project were amended by Resolution so that the project can proceed.

Supervisors Comments

Supervisor Ackerman reported on the Two Rivers Council of Governments (TRCOG) that was held in the Forks Municipal Building on July 18. He said that there was discussion of the revised bylaws and their possible enactment. Ackerman said that adding the EASD as a member was discussed and he recommended against it. He said that the TRCOG should only have municipalities as members. Multi-municipality planning was discussed and Ackerman asked that the Board say yes/no to this before the September 27 meeting in Forks. In regard to the draft of the Emergency Public Aid Agreement, Ackerman said that "some of them were not happy with Karl's (Solicitor Karl Kline) comments." His impression was that the Emergency Public Aid Agreement probably would not happen. Ackerman said too, that someone there asked him what the Forks police were "asking for" in their contract negotiations. He said that he did not answer. The next (now Quarterly) TRCOG meeting will be held at the Wilson Borough Municipal Building at 7:00 PM on October 17th.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. Acceptance of the debits and transfers was approved 4:0 (Supervisor Miller was not present).

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas thanked the Police Department, the fire Department, and the road crew for "doing a wonderful job" during the July 10th storm. She said that the Public Safety Committee reviewed the Police Department Five-Year Plan and it will come before the Board in August. She said too, that the committee received the EOP template from the County, that they reviewed the Fire Ordinance (it will be before the Board shortly), and that they received the EMS budget. William Keifer, Jr., President of the Forks EMS, reported on the financial condition of the squad since its reactivation in April. Keifer said that:
    • Call volume is increasing.
    • The EMS had $160,000 "billable" calls so far and $58.000 of that has been collected.
    • The IRS has assigned an agent and that negotiations are beginning. All other back taxes have been paid.
    • The purchase of a new vehicle is in their budget. It will come from J&J Emergency Vehicle and cost $89,500 less the trade of $10,000. The payments will be around $1400/mth. Keifer requested that the Board allow the EMS to use the Township's Ford "discount number" - it will mean an additional $5,000 dealer discount. No one on the Board was familiar with that program and Finance Manager Jim Farley and Township Manager Rick Schnaedter will look into it.
    • The bucket collection fundraiser at the Giant raised $3,300.
    • An August 4 & 5 "carnival type open house" event is planned. There will be no cost to the EMS. It will be done by an outside vendor and the EMS will get a percentage. Parking will be at the EMS property, the nearby church, and nearby bank. Keifer plans to ask Don Miller (Supervisor and Community Center Coordinator) if parking would be available at the Community Center. If so, they will run a shuttle.
    • A Forks-specific Monopoly type game, Forksopoly, is another planned fundraiser. They will sell ads to local businesses for placement on the game board. In fact, there are 40 spots and 30 are sold already. Keifer asked if the Township would buy a spot. The games will sell for $25. If purchased during the pre-sale period, the purchasers' names will be printed on the game board (as a sponsor). Some of the business advertisers have also offered to hold special fund raising events for the squad.
    • The bylaws have been officially changed and there can now be 9 members on the Board. The squad is looking for "outside" people.
  • Chairman Hoff said that he spent a couple of hours in the EOC after the storm and was very impressed with the cooperation and effort of all the agencies. He noted that in less than three hours, they had all the major road issues taken care of.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman thanked all the agencies involved in the storm work. He noted that the only person who didn't know what was going on was DPW Director Mark Roberts. He was at home and his cell phone doesn't work there. The Township is getting him a pager. Roberts said that the department has been "chipping constantly" since the storm. Ackerman added that August 1st will be the last day for storm branch chipping. He said that it seems that some people are trimming trees because they "know that we're around chipping." Ackerman added that at the Public Works Committee meeting, the contract for worker clothing was discussed. The current contract is expiring. Roberts is getting new pricing from three vendors.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - absent.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - no report.
  • Finance & Administration - Chairman Hoff said that the new, larger mailbox is in place in front of the Municipal Building. On July 11th, the committee discussed:
    • The computer system.
    • Preparing information for the budget process.
    • A meeting room projector. A portable one has been purchased. It will work with laptop presentations.
    • The Employee Manual and changes that may be needed to reflect the new contract.
    • A new purchase order spreadsheet for $5,000-$10,000 purchases.
    • A noise ordinance - they have some from other municipalities to review.
    • The cell tower. Schnaedter and Zoning Officer Tim Weis were to meet with T-Mobile on Friday, July 20th.
    • The next meeting will be on August 8 at 3:00 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - no report.

Engineer's Report - Ryan Christman - said that two projects are out for bids, Mitman Road recyling and (the hump near Upstream Farms) Newlins Road reconstruction. Christman also said that the contract for the Arndt/Bushkill light is out for signature.

Solicitor's Report - Solicitor Karl Kline - said that he and Schnaedter participated in a collective bargaining talk session with the police bargaining unit it will be reported to the Board in Executive Session.

Comments from the floor

  • Forks representative to the EAJSA, Henning Holmgaard (former Supervisor), reported to the Board that the Authority is in talks to take "leaches" from two landfills in NJ. This will bring in $300,000 to $350,000 in additional revenue. The Authority's governing bodies would like to side-step the agreement between the six member municipalities and put this additional money into a separate fund for capital improvements. The member municipalities would continue to get the normal refunds of overpayments. Holmgaard said that he thought this was a good idea (the separate fund for capital improvements) because it will help down the road. Hoff noted that the Board has until August 20th to decide. Nicholas asked if there was capacity for the NJ waste and Holmgaard said that there is. He added that the "quality" is being tested. Holmgaard noted that the rainwater isn't helping plant capacity. There is a sewer moratorium in West Easton because of excessive storm water intrusion. The system lines there are old and the repairs aren't solving the problem. Holmgaard also suggested the Forks purchase capacity whenever it can as it is an investment. Ackerman asked if the EAJSA can opt out if the capacity is needed by member municipalities and Holmgaard said, "Yes." He also said, "When it's full, it's full." There is no more room to expand except "up" because DOT took (requisitioned) Authority property to make the I78 interchange.
  • Henning Holmgaard presented the Board with a flag flown in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His daughter is a commander and is stationed there. The flag comes from the Commander of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion #28. There was applause.


RESOLUTION #070719-1/Confirmation of Tax Certification Fee Increase - This passed in a 4:0 vote. The fee will be increased from $10 to $15 effective August 1st.

RESOLUTION #070719-2/Fort James III Amended Conditions of Approval - Kline explained the background of the resolution. He said that in 2006 the Supervisors approved a lot consolidation plan and the subdivision for Fort James III. One of the conditions was that the developer (JG Petrucci) work in good faith with Norfolk Southern to get a Braden Boulevard rail crossing and if unsuccessful, the developer was to initiate PUC hearings. To that end, JG Petrucci hired an attorney to represent them in the discussions.

Township Engineer, Fred Hay and Kline were also participated in some of the discussions. Norfolk Southern said "NO" to a rail crossing on Braden and apparently is under pressure from the Federal Government to eliminate rail crossings - for safety reasons. Norfolk Southern threatened to close the spur and therefore stop service to existing customers east of Kesslersville Road. Thus, Petrucci asked for a waiver of the rail crossing condition because this would be a "win the battle/lose the war" situation. Currently Petrucci has two companies interested in moving to the industrial park and between them they will bring 200 jobs. Forks also hired a railroad law expert to look at everything and he came to the same conclusion, that the situation was fruitless.

The Resolution amends the conditions. The fees are unchanged. Petrucci is not required to ask for a PUC hearing and must provide sufficient right-of-way (at no cost to the Township) so that if the conditions change (ie, the rail line is abandoned), the Township can build the road. The developer must put forth a good faith effort with Norfolk Southern to get emergency vehicle access on the existing farmland rail crossing. It would have a locked gate. When the plans for the 4th lot are submitted, the developer must put in the stub road to Glover Road. The developer must provide sufficient security for the improvements for emergency access road and the Glover connecting road.

Howell asked if the Township is to facilitate Petrucci in to condemn land needed for the Glover stub road and Kline replied that the developer must exhaust all reasonable efforts to obtain the land needed. Condemnation is a "last resort" and the road is in the public interest. This is not part of the Resolution.

Ackerman motioned to accept the resolution. Nicholas seconded and it passed in a 4:0 vote.

FUND CONSOLIDATION - Farley explained that the auditors suggested consolidating two funds. They suggested moving money from the bond fund (established for the construction of the new complex) into the general fund (the two account amounts totaling just under $100,00 and would be used for some of the construction projects that are yet to be done) and moving $500,000 from the bond fund (that was borrowed for traffic study) into the traffic study account. This would close the bond fund account. The auditors also recommended moving capital moneys from the utility fund (trash and sewer) and moving it to a separate account for capital sewer projects - leaving only operating monies in the utility fund. This passed 4:0.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - An Executive session was held to discuss the police contract negotiations and litigation.

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