Tax Liens and Regulations Topics of Discussion at Sussex Borough Council Meeting
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 • 8:53pm
SUSSEX, NJ - Standing largely to set the scene for forthcoming meetings, council members of Sussex Borough hashed out dates to convene in the next few months, and moved along regular agenda items at Tuesday's meeting. Unprepared to complete the borough’s yearly budget that night, councilman Sal Lagattuta recommended tabling the budget discussion until March 13 or 14; an official date to be announced on the borough’s website this week.
“It’s nice to discuss the budget line by line,” said Lagattuta.
The council is under pressure by the State of New Jersey to submit their 2013 final budget.
“We need to have a budget in place by the 15th [of March] or we’ll get nickered by the state,” said mayor Jonathan Rose.
“It has to get there so it could, under their rules, make the 48 hour timeline,” added Sussex attorney John Ursin.
While it is protocol for items listed on the council’s consent agenda to be passed in one motion, without discussion, councilman Bruce LaBar requested the first item, a letter detailing the Kumetz vs. Sussex Borough Civil Action Complaint, be singled out for separate consideration. Without delving into specifics, Ursin stated “one party claims another party improperly redeemed a tax lien.”
Ursin assured council members that although said parties had requested the council choose a side on the lawsuit, their case would go to court, and “the borough will be abiding by the Judge’s decision.”
“So basically, whoever the judge decides gets the lien, we’ll sign,” said Lagattuta.
“No question, we’re trying to minimize our involvement in the case because we want to stay neutral and maximize our tax dollars,” said Ursin.
Another subject breached by the council was a proposition to assign two tax liens on Newton Avenue and Main Street to a third party buyer from Sparta, N.J. Ursin urged the council to make an amendment enabling him the chance to negotiate a smarter monetary agreement with the buyer; ideally to include a premium for the borough in the contract. Council members floated pros and cons of releasing the land to a third party.
Ursin pointed out that while Sussex would forgo ownership, and thus control, of the property, with the benefits of selling the land far exceeded the costs.
"Towns buy tax liens as a last resort,” he said.
Following Ursin’s advice, the council first moved to amend the original motion in order to permit negotiations between Ursin and the buyer, then made an additional amendment allowing Ursin to fix a premium.
“And now that we’ve unwound all the way, we’re now going to be voting on the motion as amended,” said Rose.
The motion passed.
Happily, clerk Mark Zschack announced the borough dog census was well under way with 198 dogs registered already, and many more households yet to be tallied. The total number of dogs counted is expected to be higher than it has been in past censuses.
“We’re hoping to be able to recover our expense for the dog census,” said Zschack.
SCMUA was discussed for the second meeting in a row, as the council approved a motion to share recycling coordinator services with SCMUA for a price of $250.00. Commenting on outsourcing a recycling coordinator instead of simply keeping the role in the borough (at perhaps a lower cost), Zschack said, “It’s like 20 days of classes to become a recycling coordinator. I think it was 21 days, actually.”
Former Mayor of Sussex Borough Katherine Little had a few things to say about that.
“On this recycling, I don’t know if there’s any way these rules could be changed, because I did it for nothing,” she said. “I would love to be the recycling coordinator, but I cannot put the hours in to be certified. This is another example of the government putting so many rules and regulations on municipalities that it strangles them.”
On a final note, the Route 23 rehabilitation project will begin construction on the roadway next month. The council invites members of the public to attend an open hearing regarding the endeavor 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7.
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