At the Borough Council meeting on April 24, minutes from the February 27 meeting were approved unanimously. The consent agenda was also approved, after removing Ordinance 17-59, which was to authorize temporary emergency appropriations. Councilmember Hamilton was absent.
There was a discussion regarding Ordinance 17-59. Mayor Ellentuck expressed concern that the amount of temporary emergency appropriations are substantial, $378,800 total in 2017 so far. Surrounding towns have approved their budgets already. Councilmember Lipoti also inquired as to when the water/sewer budget would be ready, as the CFO usually consults with the utilities to discuss necessary repairs that are needed. Councilmember Malkin reported that the budget committee met with CFO last week, and she will introduce the budget at the May 8th Council Meeting, The temporary emergency appropriations will carry the Borough until the next budget passes. Ordinance 17-59 was approved unanimously by all present Council members.
The mowing contract for the Borough was awarded to low bidder Solaris Landscaping Services in East Windsor. They will be responsible for maintaining specified Borough property as outlined in the contract.
Ordinance 2017-002 was introduced to address the badly leaking roof at Borough Hall. The Borough will work with the same company that did the roof on the water plant. The repair work will include the gutters, but it is not clear if the new roof includes the part of the building that houses the First Aid Squad.
Councilmember Malkin inquired if the funds being requested include new air conditioning units, as there is funding available for them. Mayor Ellentuck indicated that the funds will address the roof and gutters only, and that the heating/air conditioning units for the Borough Hall would be considered separately at a later date. They are a little more expensive than a centralized HVAC system, but they are more energy efficient and can be turned off/on in individual rooms as needed. Councilmember Trammell stated that consideration should be given to the possibility of addressing the First Aid Squad roof, installing a truss system and widening the bay doors, however, Mayor Ellentuck stressed the urgency of repairing the Borough Hall roof quickly as it is leaking badly and will be an issue with regards to mold and PEOSHA as well. There will be a second reading of the ordinance on May 8, which will give some time to clarify whether the roofing bid includes the section of the roof that covers the First Aid Squad. All present Council members voted yes.
Councilmember Ticktin, on behalf of the Committee for Community Development and Code Enforcement, reported that there was a problem on Farm Lane that involved a resident who cut down several trees on borough property as well as one tree on his neighbor’s property, as there is some confusion as to the location of the property boundaries. Code Enforcement has investigated, but it will be up to the residents to obtain their own survey to clarify property lines.
Councilmember Bonna, as the Environmental Representative, reported that the new puncheons installed last year along the Roosevelt Woodland Trail have weathered over time and are no longer slippery when wet. The Environmental Commission is no longer considering treating them in order to provide additional traction.
Kelly Tyers, representing Public Works, reported that the Shade Tree Commission will take care of two trees in danger of falling in the road.
Mayor Ellentuck reminded Council members that financial disclosure forms for all Council members are due.
Councilmember Malkin, on behalf of the Finance/Planning Board/Recreation Committee, reported that the Planning Board hasn’t recently met. With regards to recreation, she is aware that some parents were dissatisfied with the camp arrangements not meeting their needs for childcare. Councilmember Malkin clarified that Roosevelt has never provided full-time camp except for last summer, and that the programs here were never meant to replace childcare, but only meant to supplement and provide socialization. In addition, some residents felt it was too expensive at $45-95 per week. This is a reduced rate as Roosevelt funds some of that, so it actually costs more. The recreational director, Eric, has always advised parents if they need full-time care, they should look to other towns. Mayor Ellentuck asked if a resolution was going to be introduced to Borough Council so that the rates could be approved. Councilmember Malkin will discuss rates with the recreational director and bring them to the next Council meeting on May 8th for approval.
Councilmember Malkin also reported that there will be a Fourth of July picnic this year, and that the Recreation Committee is actively seeking volunteers.
Councilmember Lipoti, on behalf of the Utilities Committee, presented a slide show that showed a badly leaking tank at the sewer treatment plant. She explained that in water plant, chlorine is added to water that comes from wells, not to kill germs (no germs in well water) but chlorine takes out the iron. As the water goes through the aerator, 60% of the iron is removed with chlorine through settling, and the other 40% of the iron is removed via filtration.
Chlorine levels are monitored and adjusted every day. Levels can vary within 24 hours between readings. To provide more comprehensive monitoring of the chlorine levels, a line was added to form a data logger. This data logger will be monitored by a third-party company (HACH), which will provide information on how the chlorine levels fluctuate continuously. One of the problems is that the pipes that bring in the chlorine are clogged with iron. The utility has currently Installed a bypass system with tubing, and are working with the engineering firm R3M to construct a more permanent long-term solution.
DEP will be coming out to do another inspection via the Catastrophe Prevention Program.
At the sewage treatment plant, chemicals are added to help solids to settle out, and for disinfecting. The chemical tanks have started to leak at the nozzle joints at the bottom of the tanks. Liquid chlorine is leaking badly out of one of the nozzles, and is leaking inside the bulkhead. Chlorine is corrosive to the frame that holds the tanks, but because the leaking is being captured by the bulkhead, nothing escaping to the environment yet. Toby has now gone out to bid for three new tanks, and Municipal Maintenance came in as the low bidder. One of the tanks was replaced just last year, so the utility will need to buy two tanks and keep the newest tank. The chlorine in the tanks will be used up and delivery of the new tanks will be coordinated to maximize efficiency. The bids received are for an emergency capital improvement, with the lowest quote being $17,291. Councilmember Malkin inquired if this tank issue is related to the referendum question regarding studying the utilities. Councilmember Lipoti responded that the utility study is an entirely separate issue.
An application to rent 9 Homestead Lane was addressed. Following a discussion regarding individual rentals vs. boarding homes, all present councilmembers voted to approve the application, with the exception of Councilmember Malkin, who voted no.
The next Environmental Commission meeting was moved to May 24 at 7:00 pm. Bulk pick up is scheduled for May 1 and 2.
Mark Conners offered to provide information regarding a state-run program wherein the Borough may qualify to receive a discount for installation of air-conditioning units. He also expressed concerns regarding the high costs of hiring many different companies to do work throughout the Borough, and suggested it may be more efficient to have a part-time salaried person to handle routine maintenance issues that arise.
Jeb Shahn had heard that there was a water/sewer study about ten years ago, and questioned the necessity of a new study. Councilmember Lipoti clarified that when R3M commenced the study, they found that the information provided by the previous study is inadequate. For example, there was no camera examination, and while they found that some of the pipes had been relined, there are plenty of other leaking pipes. Jeb asked if the sewage treatment plant would need to be studied following the proposed pipe study, and Councilmember Lipoti stated that the sewage treatment study work was already done by Manuel Ponte. The next steps will be to look at the options: how much to fix, how much to pump it out to another town, and to determine what other options would be available. Mayor Ellentuck added that the Borough will publish the options by sharing the studies. Councilmember Lipoti stated that these studies will provide us with enough information to make some cost-based decisions in order to get ready for the November ballot. Councilmember Bonna added that she recently attended a League of Municipalities presentation where it was explained that a bond is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a way to spread out payments over time. It’s really the only way for municipalities to function. Councilmember Trammell agreed that the costs will need to be spread out over time. Mayor Ellentuck reminded those present that in 1990, the Borough waited so long that the DEP rescinded their offer of grants, which severely limited the town’s options. The necessary sewer plant issues could cost four to five million dollars. Councilmember Lipoti offered that bonds are “shoppable” and the Borough would have the opportunity to choose from lenders that may offer high incentives, such as 50% loan forgiveness, very low percentage rates, etc.
The outcome of the vote for the water/sewer studies on April 25, 2017 was 147 Yes, 149 No. The majority of voters have rejected allowing the Borough to apply for a bond to cover the cost of a water/sewer utility study. There were 296 votes cast out of 646 registered voters in Roosevelt.