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Stillwater Unable To Bank Funds To Fight Moths

By Jane Primerano

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 • 11:38am

STILLWATER TOWNSHIP, NJ – The prospect of a gypsy moth invasion is not one of the capital projects that can have a special fund, Chief Financial Officer Dana Mooney told the township committee Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Committeeman Charles Gross said the committee put away money for such things in the past, but Mooney said she consulted with both the current and future township auditors and determined the state will not allow money to be put aside for gypsy moth damage abatement.

Gross noted there is often a way around such rules, but Mooney said should money be needed to combat gypsy moths, as it was several years ago, the committee can make an emergency appropriation, which can be paid off the next year, or over three years.

She did say it may be possible to make the state Department of Community Affairs change its mind, but she would have to take the matter up with the new auditors.

Gross asked if the committee could set aside $50,000 in one year, but Mooney said that appropriation would be within the state-imposed municipal budget cap whereas an emergency appropriation would not.

On other financial matters, the committee voted unanimously to dismiss the current auditor, Ardito and Company, and have the new auditor, Nisivoccia and Company, perform the 2012 audit.

At a Dec. 11 special meeting, the committee had voted to change auditors beginning in 2013. That would mean Nisivoccia would help with the 2013 budget, and do the 2013 audit in the beginning of 2014.

However, Mooney told the committee she does not feel she is getting enough support from Ardito and Company. She pointed out for two years in a row, they prepared a municipal budget without consulting the committee.

Mooney said Nisivoccia senior partner Raymond Sarinelli said the township should pay Ardito for some preliminary budget work done already, and deduct that money from the new Nisivoccia contract.

She said Valerie Dolan will be the auditor for the township. Dolan made partner at Nisivoccia recently, she noted.

Another long-time professional will also be leaving. The committee also voted not to renew Township Attorney Lawrence Cohen’s contract at the Dec. 11 special meeting.

Cohen devoted his attorney’s report on Dec. 18 to a farewell. “For the relative size of the community, the public participation is outstanding. You have your regulars and others who attend township meetings. I hope I have helped the municipality achieve its goals.”

Gross said he cast the single vote against the non-renewal. He said, “If it wasn’t for Mr. Cohen’s work on the police department, we would still have police and much higher taxes."

Committeewoman Lisa Chammings said after the meeting she was sorry to see Cohen go. She said while she was concerned with losing the police department, she was grateful to Cohen to assuring the state police would cover the township in the absence of the local police force.

Chammings said the lack of local coverage is even more concerning after the events in Newtown, Conn. She said the state police provide a good service, but are just too far away.

At the meeting, she said she happened to hear the Stillwater Board of Education talking about increased safety procedures, such as auto-locking doors.

A teacher at Kittatinny Regional High School, Chammings said she and her students do practice drills that are mandated each month. Mayor George Scott said most schools have good safety programs, and Stillwater School has metal doors, which are safer than the glass doors at many schools.  

 

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