Sparta Township Council Holds 2013 Municipal Budget Public Hearing

Credits: Jennifer Fratangelo
Mayor Gibbs, Deputy Mayor Whilesmith and Councilwoman Quinn during the meeting. Credits: Jennifer Fratangelo
Members of the Sparta Ambulance Squad brought a list of their committees and activities to the council to help their case regarding LOSAP points. Credits: Jennifer Fratangelo

SPARTA, NJ - The April 9 Sparta Township Council meeting covered a lot of issues during its session before it broke to finish off an executive session.

There was a hearing and adoption of Ordinance 13-02, amending Chapter 2, Administration, Section 2-18, Police Department and the following resolutions were approved: the adoption of municipal budget- title only, the refund of tax overpayment and the water account credit; expenditures were also approved.

During the manager’s report the following issues were raised and/or dealt with. As a follow up from the last council meeting, the Sparta Volunteer Ambulance Squad had representation, as the LOSAP program was discussed again. The squad brought a list of their committees and their activities to the council, and is hoping that the council will approve the time spent on committees to be added to their LOSAP points. The council said that they want to do more research, and will have a decision for the squad at the next council meeting in two weeks.

In regards to utility fees, it was recommended that the council seek to modify the ordinance for larger construction projects so that a plan is fostered so developers will not go beyond a budget; attorney Tom Ryan and councilman Jerry Murphy will look at it and draw up a plan. There are proposed revisions to the Land Management Code, specifically involving generators, and the planning board recommends an ordinance reconsideration. In SECTV follow up, the representative from SECTV would like to meet in a closed session, but the council wants someone to appear in public session, as per their contract with them; Ryan and township manager David Troast will discuss with the SECTV lawyer and try, and sort everything out regarding a meeting. The final discussion during the manager's report was that the New Jersey Veterans Memorial is asking for a site plan, and would like the fees waived or reduced; the council said they would add the issue to the next agenda.

During the committee reports the following updates were mentioned: the communications committee is working on their E- Newsletter and that the invitations for the May 1 Crisis Management/ Public Safety kickoff event will be going out next week.

In new business, Councilwoman Christine Quinn would like to hold a youth forum to see what they would like to see from their community, and will formulate a proposal; deputy mayor Molly Whilesmith discussed the possibility of having a billboard that will display safety for the youth with prom and graduation coming up. She secured a sponsor in Soma Technologies, but is working on discussing it with the billboard owner and the DOT. The council will also be looking into administering the Myers Briggs Test to learn about the different personalities that they work with for Leadership Training; it will be worked on and brought back to the council within a month.

During the open public section of the meeting, Matt Camfield asked, “I need clarification, can we enforce these rules or not?”

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Camfield represented himself and several neighbors who are upset over PSE&G construction on their street. They claimed that the construction goes on from sunrise to sunset, including on Sundays, with 100 to 200 trucks going up and down the street. The citizens said they were concerned for the safety of their children, who can no longer ride bicycles or walk to their friends’ houses safely, while also being angry at the constant noise that they believe to be breaking an ordinance.

Murphy mentioned that where they are working under the power lines is technically considered Hopatcong, and that contractually the township may not be able to do anything.

"If it’s safety we can’t take a chance,” said Councilwoman Quinn.    

The council said that they will set up a meeting with PSE&G, and the local police and will try to figure out what is going on and what steps can be taken to remedy the issues raised.

“We’re going to make this a priority,” mayor Gilbert Gibbs said.

Paul Johnson also spoke during the open session, commending the council on what they are trying to do for the Veterans Memorial; he also added that there are several street lights that are knocked down in town that need to be repaired.

The biggest discussion involved the 2013 Municipal Budget Public Hearing that took place.

“This is the lowest tax increase in quite a few years,” said Troast.

He added that the budget has been planned and it is fiscally conservative, but still provides for the quality of life for the citizens of Sparta.

The budget proposal, which was introduced on March 12, was broken down as follows in totals:

            - Summary of Budget Revenues, 2013 Proposed Budget: 24,510,084.00
             - Summary of Tax Rate, 2013 Proposed Budget: 87,832,268.00
            - Summary of Water Budget Revenues (Utility), 2013 Proposed Budget: 3,275,727.00
            - Summary of Sewer Budget Revenues (Utility), 2013 Proposed Budget: 1,205,106.00
            - Summary of Solid Waste Budget Revenues (Utility), 2013 Proposed Budget:

The next township council meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.


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