Third Madison Budget Hearing Covers Board of Health, Utilities and Capital Budget
Saturday, March 2, 2013 • 3:43pm
MADISON, NJ – A number of projects were hashed out by Madison Borough Council at the Saturday morning, March 2, budget hearing.
Lisa Gulla of the Board of Health said she had prepared an annual report and practice standards required by state statute. She has been with the department for five months, through Hurricane Sandy, and commended her staff. Agreements to share services have been made with Chatham Borough, Chatham Township and Springfield, with two more pending. Anticipated revenues are $286,205. She has also been consulting with the Housing Authority and Emergency Management. Tablets and electronic features have been introduced, saving time and money, she said. She expects to issue data reports monthly and expand the internship program.
“In just a few months, she’s enhanced services,” Council President Carmela Vitale said, including health education, vaccines, and a variety of programs. Vitale recalled how the Board of Health idea started with the Thursday Morning Club, when members said a health service was needed in town.
“They’ve been a great value during storms, providing shelters and taking care of people,” Councilman Robert Landrigan said.
Chief Financial Officer Robert Kalafut discussed water and electric utilities, noting that a net total by 2015 would show “extremely diminished costs.” He said the water surplus is immeasurably lower than other municipalities in Morris County. Cash and collections are 50% about the prior year and delinquencies in payment have been reduced. “We’re going in a positive direction,” he said. Each utility budget, he explained is a ‘stand alone’ and cannot be transferred to another budget. Fortunately, he added, surpluses were available to cover Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.
Regarding operations, Public Works Superintendent David Maines said the two main feeder lines at Kings Road, covering the eastern end of the borough, and an underground line, covering the western end required service after Sandy. The department serviced 220 utility poles and all the borough’s traffic lights, downed power lines and tree limbs. “I’m a resident of Madison and I’m a stakeholder,” he said. “New equipment makes the worker easier and safer.” A three-year maintenance contract will cover stock joints, replacing underground system switches and work at the Realogy site. He spelled out steps involved in water testing and replacement schedules.
“I toured the sewer and pumps stations,” Councilman Robert Catalanello said, “and realized the enormity of the structures.” He added, “Look at what you maintain with a dedicated staff. I’m a big believer in preventative maintenance.”
Finance Chairman Ben Wolkowitz said he agreed with the multi-year plan for utilities. Mayor Robert Conley also agreed with the long range capital reinvestments.
Major discussion centered on capital projects, especially roads, pumping stations and water mains. Assistant Borough Administrator James Burnet said over $2 million in major projects has been funded this year. A comprehensive five-year completion plan was included in the budget handout.
Borough Engineer Robert Vogel reviewed road work on Samson Avenue and Rosedale and other projects that, he said, are carry-overs from 2012. Samson, he said, should be completed by late March and Rosedale by the end of June. Sanitary projects on North Street’s force main and pump station, as well as pump stations on Candlewood and Treadwell are underway. A boiler replacement at Hartley Dodge and replacement of a utility truck damaged in the storm are on the list. Some projects have been eligible for county and state grants, including $110,000 for Rosedale and $125,000 for Samson. He has yet to hear from the state regarding a grant for Green Avenue.
Fire Chief Louie De Rosa explained the need to replace a breathing air compressor, turnout gear and FCC radio frequency. Turnout gear, he said, has a 10 year replacement and an influx of volunteers has been added to the department. Police Chief Darren Dachisen said improvements are being made to the impound yard, eliminating moisture issues. A replacement vehicle is needed, as well. “80,000 miles is different in a police vehicle than in an ordinary car,” he said of the wear and tear.
Library improvements include improvements to walkways and parking lot for safety considerations, adding more parking, replacement of carpeting in the children’s section, replacing the HVAC and baseboard and painting/ repairing skylight box frames. Librarian Nancy Adamczyk said technical issues result, to a degree, because of the age of the building.
The council discussed whether to have the Ridgedale Avenue project completed in one year rather than spreading it out. “I’d love to get it done,” Vogel said, adding he initially suggested a two-year span because of budget concerns. He agreed it’s a major challenge in view of the heavily travelled street and the location of Madison High School near the border of Florham Park. “Timing is critical,” he said.
Some of the projects discussed at the hearing will be on the council’s March 11 regular meeting agenda.
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