Open Space Fund Use, Budget Discussed at Special Montville Township Committee Meeting

The Montville Township Committee, Administration, Police Chief, and Director of DPW Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Committee gathered for a special work session on Saturday, Jan. 21 in order to discuss the township’s 2017 budget, goals and objectives.

Mayor Jim Sandham later described the meeting as “collegial and collaborative.”

The committee discussed the use of Open Space (OS) funding for projects within the township. This has been an ongoing discussion for years.

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OS funds can be used for “the acquisition, development and maintenance of lands for recreation and conservation purposes,” according to Montville Township code. However, the wording of the code leaves room for interpretation by the current governing body.

Committee Member Richard Conklin stated his opinion that OS funds should not be used for maintenance items such as painting and lighting projects. Committee Member Richard Cook agreed with Conklin.

Committee Member Deb Nielson stated that money towards certain projects should be sought from users of the project. For example, if the fields are being lit, the sports associations who use that field should be asked for funds to help pay for the lights. Deputy Mayor Frank Cooney expressed a similar opinion.

Sandham did not state his opinion.

Projects the township would like to begin include:

  • Projects at the Community Park: painting the field house and youth center, lighting the basketball court, a motorized security gate to allow access into the gardens, paving the garden paths with oil and chip, replacing lighting on fields 1 and 2. ($260,000)
  • The township would also like to completely renovate the Community Park playground with new rubberized flooring, equipment, and facilities.
  • Camp Dawson: a new barn door, new bleachers, and a concessions building ($90,000)
  • Masar Park: baseball field lighting ($115,000)
  • “Metro Park’s Infrastructure” (NJDEP-approved access) ($25,000)

The cost of the renovations at the Community Park have been set aside in increments for several years. Administration requested $100,000 in its 2017 budget proposal of Jan. 5 with the thought to perform the project in 2018, but Sandham encouraged the committee to move the project to this year.

The committee also discussed the possibility of setting a percentage or set dollar amount of OS funds to utilize for maintenance of properties and buildings. 

Other Budgets

Police Chief Rudy Appelmann discussed the department’s budget with the committee, including replacing radar units at $6,000, conference room chairs at $7,500, and the third out of a five-year cycle of replacing mobile and portable radios at a cost of $15,000.

The department’s 14-year-old dispatch and communications system will also be upgraded at a cost of $350,000, which will be split between a $200,000 portion in 2017 and the rest going into the 2018 budget.

Department of Public Works Director John Perry was also on hand to discuss his department’s budget. Three vehicles will be purchased, including two dump trucks and a pickup truck at a total cost of $250,000.

Approximately $20,000 has been set aside for replacing street signs, including an amount that was not decided which will be used to pay for approximately half of the Towaco Civic Association’s proposed street-name sign project. The TCA wishes to change the signs along Route 202/Main Road with more attractive street-name signs.

One mobile light tower ($8,000) will be purchased, to light up parking lots on occasions such as the township’s Independence Day celebration. Currently the township owns two and borrows others. A 4x4 cart called a gator and golf carts will be purchased for $15,000. A $20,000 zero turning radius mower will be purchased because the DPW handles mowing in-house in order to save the township the fees that would be paid to sub-contractors.

Carpeting ($35,000) and new windows (approx. $100,000) will be installed at the municipal building, because the window casings are breaking off of the building, Township Administrator Victor Canning stated. He stated that any funds leftover from the roofing project completed in Dec. 2016 will be applied to the window project. In addition, the committee is considering changing the desk in the lobby of the building and adding protective/security windows to some areas of the clerk’s office.

The electronic sign in front of the municipal building will be replaced ($10,000) and a new electronic sign will be installed in front of the public safety building, although that sign was budgeted for last year, Canning said.

A new DPW truck ($60,000), hooking up 15 households onto the township sewer line ($125,000), a sewer cleaning truck ($400,000), which could also be rented out to other towns, and training and software acquisition for the town’s GIS (geographic information system, the town’s water and sewer systems) were also discussed.

A water tank maintenance contract was also discussed, and has been an ongoing discussion by the committee.

The committee is always keeping an eye on aquifer levels, and Perry stated that hydrology expert Vincent Uhl will be at a February meeting to discuss a hydrology report the township requested. The committee asked Perry to request that Uhl also speak about the merit of purchasing a piece of property located on Peace Valley Road as a possible recharge area for the aquifer, at a cost of $85,000.

The committee ran out of time to discuss goals and objectives.

Canning said that once Township CFO Katie Yanke completes the revenue review for 2016, administration will be able to calculate this year's budget impact on the tax levy.

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