Budget Advisory Group: South Orange Should Take Back SOPAC Building
Thursday, May 31, 2012 • 12:07am
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The village should take over the South Orange Performing Arts Center building and lease it back to the nonprofit that runs the center, a member of the budget advisory committee told village trustees at their meeting Wednesday night.
The suggestion regarding SOPAC was one of three recommendations presented to the board by Michael Auer, co-chairman of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee. The idea is not a new one – the board heard the same recommendation from a consultant it hired to study SOPAC. (See related story.)
“SOPAC is shackled with a large debt service,” Auer said, which makes it difficult for SOPAC to obtain grants. Trustee Deborah Davis Ford agreed, noting, “Nobody wants to fund debt.”
SOPAC owes about $15 million for the building and related debt-service costs.
Two other recommendations presented by Auer:
- Adopt clear guidelines governing reimbursement of the village president and trustees for mileage, lodging, conference fees, meals and for social functions for honoring employees.
- Create specific guidelines for all outside service providers, including nonprofit organizations. Organizations should provide “clear and measurable services to the taxpayers of the Village,” Auer said.
Funding for the nonprofit Community Coalition on Race has been controversial because some argue that it does not provide services that would otherwise be funded by the village. Trustee Howard Levison, who chairs the Finance and Information Technology Committee, said the CCR has not yet provided the committee with a service agreement.
In other action, the board:
Proclaimed June 11, 2012, a Day of Remembrance in memory of Nikhil Badlani, an 11-year-old West Orange middle school student killed in an accident in South Orange on June 11, 2011. His parents, Sunil and Sangeeta Badlani, started the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, which provides funding for music lessons, funds scholarships for academic achievement and works to raise traffic safety awareness.
- Appointed members to the Special Improvement District Management Corporation Board. Trustee Michael Goldberg noted it was a “tough deliberation” because the approximately 18 people who applied are “a great group of people.”
Trustee Nancy Gould will serve a one-year term. Representing downtown property owners: Jared Hunter, one year; Randy Schmitz and Billy Angelino, two years; and Michael Feinberg, three years. Representing downtown business owners: Ben Salmon, one year; Matt Glass and George Berkeley, two years; and Robyn Fields, three years. Representing South Orange residents who do not own downtown property or businesses: Sam Joseph and Josh Sherman, two years. The Parking Authority also will appoint a board member. All terms begin on June 1.
- Voted 4-0 to accept an amendment to the 2012 municipal budget. The introduction of the budget had been approved earlier. A vote on adoption is scheduled for June 11. Village Administrator Barry Lewis Jr. said the amendment reflects a $318,000 decrease in revenue, which requires some reallocation of funding. Goldberg abstained on principle, saying he received the information too late to review. Trustee Janine Bauer was absent.