Government

Vernon Township Adopts 2013 Municipal Budget and Discusses After Effects of Recent OPRA Request Lawsuit

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Resident Gary Martinson discusses the recent lawsuit in Vernon Township. Credits: Alley Shubert
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VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ - Members of the Vernon Township Council voted four to one on the township's Capital Bank Ordinance, and the Adoption of the 2013 Municipal Budget on Monday, April 8.

Ordinance #13-03 which is a “Ordinance to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits and to establish a cap bank” determines that a 1.5 percent increase in the budget for the 2013 year amounting to $243,103.00.
The ordinance was better explained by Vernon Township Mayor Victor Marotta who stated, “It is not an actual dollar transaction, it is just a paper transaction that allows us to use it if we need it.”
 
Marotta’s statement was backed up by councilman Eddie Dunn who said, “Good clarity mayor, good clarity.”
 

Resolution #13-80 stating the Adoption of the 2013 Municipal Budget shows the total appropriations of $22,677,041 for the township having a decrease in residents taxes for the second year in a row.
 
“We are one of five communities in the state,” said council president Patrick Rizutto in regard to the decrease in taxes. “Both the board of education, and the township were able to lower taxes. The average resident did not have any of their taxes raised.”
 
Rizutto complimented Marotta and his staff, and said, “You and your staff are to be congratulated on a phenomenal job,” and then turned to Marotta personally, “You’ve done a hell of a job.” 
 
Rizutto also recounted a couple of positive events in the past year.
 
“We lowered taxes in 2012 and 2013,” Rizutto stated. "The lake communities and schools are paid up-to-date, $900,000 revenue in order to fend our budget, and $150,000 to a bond sinking fund.”
 
Rizutto also thanked township attorney, Kevin Kelly by stating he does an outstanding job, and that he also has a high degree of faith in Kelly representing the council.
 
“I am proud that Kelly is the attorney, and it is good to hear the positive things,” said councilman Dick Wetzel.
 
However, councilman Dan Kadish who was the only one to vote 'no,' and personally expressed his feelings as to why.
 
“Earlier this year, the mayor received a letter and the result was the oversight of the council. Another thing that is troubling us is that the OPRA requests should be reported on the website, what others town do. I noticed a $300 fee for an employee to have an overnight stay, when asked for a written report on [Hurricane] Irene, I received a pile of papers with data on it. The lawsuit last week involved gross income,” said Kadish who looked around at the council and said, “How can I support the budget?”
 
Kadish’s comment was in regard to the recent lawsuit between Vernon Township, and the individuals who asked for a Open Public Record Act request to view the payroll roster of the employees.
 
The individuals: Sally Rinker, Sandra Ooms, Lynn VanGorder, Jesse Wolosky, and an anonymous defendant named “Curious George” received the request via email from municipal clerk, Sue Nelson, and once formatted for printing, the email had shown the confidential information of 119 employees within the township.
 
“I know all of the individuals and know they wouldn’t do anything as dishonest as this,” said resident Christa Gerry during public participation. “I’m sorry that it all happened, I wish everyone would just get along.”
 
“No one has disseminated the numbers, I’d like to see our attorney pay for all the damage,” said resident Gary Martinson.
 
Kelly had then summed up very briefly why the township acted in this manner.
 
“As soon as the township discovered the confidential information, we did something by law,” said Kelly. “The township went to court in injunction.”
 
Kelly said the purpose of the lawsuit was the following: get no further distribution of the document, return of the confidential information, and a certified statement of what the individuals did with the document.
 
Since the information has been leaked, LifeLock Ultimate Security has been purchased at over $200,000 for the next five years.
 
 

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