MONTVILLE, NJ – Mayor Jim Sandham asked for the township committee’s “indulgence” as he will be meeting in a very small committee composed of Deputy Mayor Frank Cooney, Township Administrator, Board of Education President Matthew Kayne, BOE Vice President Carmela Novi, and Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar to discuss strategies for addressing the drug problem in Montville Township. Sandham said that after the initial meeting, the committee would be expanded to “include more of the stakeholders,” such as police, the Health Department, and the Drug Awareness Committee.
“We thought an initial kickoff, this strategy meeting, would be more beneficial if we kept it a small group, rather than having it go off in 20 directions at first,” Sandham said.
The township is encouraging residents to utilize its drug drop-off box located in the lobby of the public safety building.
Township Administrator Victor Canning said he has been waiting to hear back from County Administrator John Bonanni about painting blue lines on Changebridge and Main Road/202 but there has been coverage in the press recently that painting such blue lines might be against federal law, and Canning does not know if it will be allowed or not.
Police and Township Budgets
Canning said administration added $90,000 to the proposed budget to pay for employee lounge modernization to bathrooms, $30,000 for public bathroom renovations, and an interactive kiosk for the municipal building and police department lobbies to answer questions on a small computer.
Police Chief Rudy Appelmann appeared before the committee with his proposed budget. Canning said the operational budget is up $48,200 to purchase police vehicles, which will be two Dodge Chargers. He said overtime has not been computed due to struggles to figure out staffing. Overtime has been higher than budgeted due to work-related injuries and other issues, resulting in $42,000 more than had been budgeted in that category, Canning said. Last year it had been budgeted at $156,000, Canning said, but he did not see the staffing issues being resolved in the next six months.
Phone use also increased for the proposed budget because Canning does not want personal phones used in case the records are requested through OPRA.
Appelmann said he had a study conducted and the recommendation was that the police department maintain 37 officers, but he felt that that number was for ideal conditions “all the time.”
“The minute we run into a problem with extended sick time or we get any type of injury, that number falls to a shortage,” Appelmann said. “We don’t have the manpower on the road. This [past] year we really met extraordinary [conditions].”
With officers out on workers’ compensation at the same time, it devastated the overtime budget, Appelmann said. Meetings with the PBA and eliminating additional spending kept the numbers down, he said, but he “firmly believes the department needs 40 officers to maintain our patrol status at all times.”
Having 40 officers would give officers the flexibility to move around within the department and gain experience in different areas, he said, as well as gaining a traffic officer. He also pointed to Montville’s status as number one in the county for heroin deaths and said an officer had been transferred to the detective bureau as a result. He wanted to place a resource officer in the schools in order to educate students.
Appelmann told TAPinto Montville there are currently 37 officers, plus one is at the academy, however, one is on administrative duty, two are on light duty, and one is on workers’ compensation. Further, he said three officers are eligible to retire.
The township committee and administration will be meeting for a special work session on Jan. 21 at 9:00 a.m. in order to work on the capital budget, the open space budget, goals and objectives.
The aquifer decreased by two feet in December, which is usually a month in which it recharges, Sandham said. The township committee will be discussing options in March following their receipt of the hydrology report, Sandham said.
Sidewalk from Lazar to Church Lane
The gas line will need to be moved and homeowners along the route need to sign a permit for the work before construction on the sidewalk can commence, obviously weather permitting.
New Stop Signs
Motorists should be alert that new three-way stop signs will be installed at the intersections of Flanders at Cheryl Roads and Demoray Court at Cheryl Road.
The showers were completed at the Senior House and it is now an emergency facility after the completion of some paperwork. The roof is now complete at the municipal building. Some technology upgrades are complete at the township and there is a new township application.