7:30 p.m.





1.     CALL TO ORDER; OPENING STATEMENT: This meeting is being held in compliance

 with Public Law 1975, Chapter 231, Sections 4 and 13, as notice of this meeting and the

agenda thereof had been reported to The Citizen and the Morris County Daily Record and The Star Ledger on January 5, 2010 and posted in the municipal building.


       Mayor Bravo called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.



All Council members were present except for Deputy Mayor Gormally, who arrived at 7:31 and Councilman Happer and Councilman Jackson, who arrived at 7:32. Also in attendance were Borough Attorney Marty Murphy, Borough Manager Barry Lewis, Jr., and Executive Assistant Michele Reilly.


Councilman McWilliams suggested the Borough Council consider adding a moment of silence to the regular agenda.




                 WHEREAS, the Borough Council of the Borough of Mountain Lakes, County of Morris, State of New Jersey finds it necessary to discuss matters relating to:


·        Litigation/Williams Stationery

·        Potential Litigation/DEP-Dam Violation

·        Potential Litigation/Tax Appeals


                        WHEREAS, the Borough Council believes it to be in the best interest of the

         public to discuss such matters in closed session.


                        NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Borough Council of the Borough         

        of Mountain Lakes, that it shall enter Executive Session to discuss only those matters 

        mentioned above; the results of which will be disclosed when the matters are resolved and

        upon vote of the Governing Body to release the minutes.


Motion by Councilman Shaw, second by Councilman McWilliams, to enter into Executive Session with all members in favor signifying by “Aye.”


Motion by Councilman Shaw, second by Councilman McWilliams, to close the Executive Session and return to the public portion of the meeting, with all members in favor signifying by “Aye.”



Mayor Bravo announced the Borough is the recipient of a 2009 Business Stimulus Fund Grant in the amount of $7,000. The Grant is to be used to assist the Borough in implementing community forestry projects.


Mayor Bravo recognized the recent retirement of two long time teachers and coaches: Bob Reid and Doug Wilkins.


Councilman Shaw reported the Boy’s High School Swim Team was County Champion, as well as Conference Champion. The Girl’s High School Swim Team was second in the County and the Conference.


Councilman Shaw recognized the achievements of Coach Doug Wilkins, including 328 wins and 7 state titles over a distinguished career.



Mayor Bravo commended Mr. Lewis on the preparation of the budget.


Mr. Lewis reported that increases in certain budget items, such as pension payments, health insurance, and contributions to the JIF, are beyond Borough control. He provided a list of the twelve (12) items which will increase for the 2010 budget year. The total cost of these increases will be approximately $186,000; however, he was able to make cuts in other areas and limit the overall increase to $119,000, meaning all other items decreased by $67,000. Mr. Lewis indicated the tax rate would increase by 1.35%, which equates to $43 per average household.


Mr. Lewis said he is comfortable that the steps he took while preparing the budget will position the Borough well for the future. For example, he did not max out the use of the Borough’s surplus. Due to a soft spending freeze implemented at the end of 2009, he was able to increase the amount of appropriation reserves to $130,000, much more than the $50,000 available at the end of 2008. These amounts will lapse to surplus at the end of this year. Also, he is proposing to implement an accumulated leave reserve. He feels the budget strikes the right balance for the Borough and the taxpayers by limiting the tax increase without sacrificing services.


Regarding the Water & Sewer Utility Budget, Mr. Lewis said there was a water revenue shortfall due to the wet summer and potentially due to the economy. This was discussed with the Finance Committee. The budget has been structured so there will be no rate increase in either water or sewer for 2010. There is the potential for a rate increase in 2011. The Borough is also able to absorb the cost of the Parsippany sewer project into this year’s budget.


Regarding the Capital Budget, Mr. Lewis said he has met with Mr. Mark Prusina, Mr. Bill Ryden, and Chief Robert Tovo. He expects to be able to provide more detailed information on the Capital Budget to the Borough Council by the end of the week.


Councilwoman Emr remarked on Mr. Lewis’s proposed possible addition of a part-time Borough Hall employee. She researched historical data regarding the number of Borough employees, and said the Borough may have gone too far in cutting employees; the addition of another part-time worker would be comparable with previous employee statistics. Councilwoman Emr also commented on the Borough’s Jet Vac. She told Mr. Lewis she would like to see this equipment leased to other towns, or possibly sold, with the Borough then contracting a private service to clean catch basins. Mr. Lewis said he is in discussions with Boonton Township regarding leasing or shared services with the Jet Vac. Councilman Jackson thought the Borough already had a rental program in place, but Mr. Lewis said he was not aware of such a program.


Councilman Happer asked about employee salaries. Mr. Lewis budgeted a 3% increase for the Borough employees. The PBA contract provides for a 3.95% increase for the Police. The sum total of the raises for Borough employees who would be covered by the 3% raise would be about $24,000.

Councilman Happer inquired if there were any deferred or holdover budget items expected, and Mr. Lewis said no. In addition, Mr. Lewis said he was rigorously enforcing purchasing procedures to prevent such issues. Councilman Happer noted the Borough’s interest on investments has decreased substantially and he suggested it may be time to explore the Borough’s banking relationships. Mr. Lewis agreed, and said he had spoken with the CFO about preparing an RFP. He said he believes the Borough can improve its return on investments and he expects to do so.


Councilman Happer wondered if the $10,000 set aside for accumulated leave would be enough to cover the total cost when the leave had to be paid out. Mr. Lewis said setting aside this amount over a few years would put the Borough in a good position. Additionally, the Borough’s future liability is limited since the accumulated leave applies to one employee. Councilman Happer noted a lot of fixed costs in the increases to the budget; he also noted a decline in the controllable items. Councilman Happer asked Mr. Lewis when the Borough would have information regarding state funding. Mr. Lewis said it was expected that Governor Christie would announce his budget on March 15th. Mr. Lewis prepared the Borough’s budget assuming the same amount of state aid.


Councilman Jackson questioned the Council’s standard. His opinion was that the Borough Council should focus on a 0% tax increase. He requested Mr. Lewis provide personnel costs by individual and by department, including salary and benefits. Councilman Jackson stated he felt it was time for the Borough Council to look at the increases in salary and health care costs, and either lower the raises or require employees to contribute to health care. He also thought the Borough should consider police furloughs or reopening the police contract. Councilman Shaw pointed out that the current police contract expires in nine months and the Borough would be negotiating the new contract soon.


Councilman Jackson asked Mr. Lewis about the uncollected tax reserve and how it was calculated. Mr. Lewis said he utilized the numbers from last year, as information for this year was not yet available. Councilman Jackson also inquired about the appropriated surplus, and requested a clear understanding of this line item. Mr. Lewis said he did not support the practice of using the entire appropriated surplus and was going to begin the process of developing a better reserve.


Councilman Jackson asked if the Borough was getting a rebate from Parsippany since the Borough’s water consumption was down. He wondered if the Borough would have gotten a rebate if not for the capital improvement. Mr. Lewis said Parsippany did not have to provide an accounting until the end of the first quarter. He also reviewed the Borough’s obligation for the capital improvement: $26,000 for 2010 with the duration of twenty (20) years; an addition of $20,000 for 2011 with the duration of twenty (20) years; and an addition of $17,000 for 2012 with the duration of twenty (20) years.


Councilman Jackson remarked that he would like a better understanding of court revenues and expenses. He said police revenues from fines have decreased. Councilman McWilliams said the police activities for January have increased.


Councilman McWilliams told Mr. Lewis he had concerns about some of the crosswalks on the Boulevard. He felt more were necessary. Mr. Lewis said there are additional crosswalks planned.


Councilman Shaw commented on the great job done by Mr. Lewis on the budget, especially considering he was just hired in October of 2009. He said Mr. Lewis did an excellent job balancing spending and the concerns of residents, since the Shared Services Survey indicated residents were interested in more services. He told Mr. Lewis he preferred the current budget presentation format and he was anxious to see the capital budget. Councilman Shaw reiterated his comments about the expiration of the police contract in nine months, and also commented that the salary increase of 3% may be subject to cuts since those raises are not being seen in the private sector.


Mr. Lewis asked Mayor Bravo if the budget would be introduced on February 22. Mayor Bravo said she would ask the Council for a consensus.


Deputy Mayor Gormally remarked Mr. Lewis squeezed the budget in a very positive direction. He asked Mr. Lewis to provide a column of actual expenditures for 2009, as well as the Borough’s exposure regarding sick leave.


Councilman Jackson commented that the budget included some of the capital improvement fund. He said this occurred last year as well. He asked Mr. Lewis for a clear understanding of the source of these funds. Mr. Lewis explained this money was actually from the capital fund balance, not the capital improvement fund. Money in the capital fund balance might be from the cancellation of previously funded ordinances or from premiums on bond and BAN sales. Mr. Lewis indicated this was not a source of funds that he would recommend utilizing; however, since they were used in 2009, some of these funds needed to be included in this year’s budget as the Borough transitioned from its reliance on the use of the capital fund balance.


Mayor Bravo introduced Mr. Rich Grebe, Chairman of the Borough’s Finance Committee. Mr. Grebe told the Council in his four years on the Committee Mr. Lewis’s budget presentation was the best preliminary budget the Borough has seen. He commended Mr. Lewis on a job very well done, and said the tax rate increase of 1.35% was within an acceptable range. He said the Finance Committee had a meeting Thursday, February 11th, to review the budget.


Mayor Bravo thanked Mr. Grebe and his Committee, several of whom were in attendance at the Council meeting. She then polled the Council regarding the introduction of the budget. Councilman Shaw asked if the Borough was within its statutory limitations in reference to the budget introduction, and Mr. Lewis said the Borough was way ahead of schedule. The consensus of the Council was to target March 8th as the date for the introduction of the budget. Mayor Bravo said the Council was interested in getting as to close to a 0% tax increase as possible.


Councilman Jackson said one of the Council priorities was to review employee benefits by March 31st. Mr. Lewis reported on the pending state legislation by Governor Christie which would mandate employee contributions to health benefits. Councilman Happer asked Mr. Lewis if he felt there were any “out of balance” budget requests. Mr. Lewis told the Council he felt all departments were very sensitive to the economy. Councilwoman Emr inquired about the status of the budget items for lakes management, and Mr. Lewis indicated these would be included in the capital budget.



Mayor Bravo opened the public comment portion of the meeting with the consent of the Council.


Sandy Batty – Lockley Court

Ms. Batty indicated she was speaking as a resident of Pine Edge, not in any other capacity (as she sits on the Planning Board). She spoke about the recent renovation of Corporate Center Two, which abuts the Pine Edge property. She reported the owner cleared the buffer between the residential zone and the commercial property. She asked the Council to review the landscape plans to determine if the owner should have had a site plan application review by the Planning Board.


Jim Hyson – Littlewood Court

Mr. Hyson is a resident of Pine Edge. He also reported the removal of the buffer between Corporate Center Two and Pine Edge. He would like to see the buffer restored. He researched the original landscape plan from 1979 and indicated it contained extensive plantings around the building and the property line, many of which are no longer there.


Jules Stanisci – Littlewood Court

Mr. Stanisci is a resident of Pine Edge. He said he is not against the commercial property but is simply seeking the return of the buffer.


Jim Connors – Littlewood Court

Mr. Connors is a resident of Pine Edge at the northern end of the development. He reported the end of his property abuts the parking lot of Corporate Center Two. He said he cannot grow plants to provide his own buffer because leaves from the parking lot pile up on his property.


Nelson Bennett – Littlewood Court

Mr. Bennett is a resident of Pine Edge. He asked that consideration be given to the insurance of the buffer. He said he is not opposed to construction but in his opinion the area is drastically different than it was when he moved in five (5) years ago.


Bill Bethke – Lake Drive

Mr. Bethke inquired why the tax appeals were discussed in Executive Session. Mr. Murphy and Mr. Lewis answered this was due to the fact the tax appeals concern litigation. Mr. Bethke felt it would be helpful to include on the agenda the reason why an issue might be discussed in Executive Session. Mr. Bethke also said he wanted to echo comments made by Councilman Jackson. He said his opinion was these were not normal times and the Borough is not in good shape. He asked that the Borough Council aggressively pursue shared services or other ideas, and remarked that every employee kept on staff will be an uncontrollable expense for the future.


Mike Feigeles – Boulevard

Mr. Feigeles said he appreciated the hard work done by Mr. Lewis on the budget. He suggested the Borough consider using the broadcast email to keep residents informed of the progress on the budget. He also suggested posting preliminary budget information on the website. He mentioned his feeling that contracts are very important and last a long time; therefore, contracts signed by the Borough need to be very specific.


Mayor Bravo asked Mr. Lewis to weigh in on the Pine Edge issue due to the number of residents in the audience. She mentioned that Mr. Lewis sits in an official capacity on the Planning Board.


Mr. Lewis said the Borough is very concerned and is very aware of the resident’s concerns. He said the Borough is exploring whether a site plan review would have been appropriate. He mentioned he has had discussions with the owner of Corporate Center Two, and the owner wishes to be a good neighbor. Councilman Jackson asked if there was an ongoing requirement regarding the landscaping and if this issue would come back to the Planning Board. Mr. Lewis answered there were two possibilities being reviewed by the Borough: first, whether or not the landscape plans were out of compliance with the original approval and second, if the renovations or improvements should have triggered a site plan review.


With no one else wishing to be heard, Mayor Bravo closed the public comment portion of the meeting.



A. Abandonment of Private Wells (hereto attached)


Regarding Question One, Mayor Bravo inquired if it was legal for the Borough to require the abandonment of all private wells once a property is connected to the water system. Mr. Murphy said yes, if public water is available. Councilman Jackson remarked that the Borough would lose revenue if a well is used, and the Borough should not permit the use of wells since there is a water system available. Councilman Shaw said an exception might be granted to a property owner who utilized a geothermal heating and cooling system. The consensus of the Council was that the ordinance should require the abandonment of all private wells once a property is connected to the water system.


Question Two asked if the “Council wanted to disallow the digging of new private wells and continued use of old private wells for any purpose including sprinkling if the property is connected to the water system”. Deputy Mayor Gormally pointed out this would be subject to the State lifting the current water restrictions. Councilman Shaw asked if the Council could legally make property owners abandon wells currently in use if the State lifted its ban. Mr. Murphy thought it was legal, based on health and public safety ordinances, and that grandfathering was not applicable. Deputy Mayor Gormally expressed concerns about interfering with a property owner’s current use of a well for irrigation. Councilman Shaw remarked that current users of irrigation wells should be grandfathered, but Councilman Jackson disagreed.


Question Three asked if the “Council wanted to disallow the removal of water from the lake for any purpose including sprinkling if the property is connected to the water system”. Councilman Shaw said such an ordinance already exists. Mr. Lewis will verify and report back to the Council.


Question Four asked if the Council wanted to meter private wells to determine water usage for sewer billing. Mr. Murphy pointed out that many municipalities utilize flat rate sewer charges on houses using wells instead of using meters. Mr. Lewis said it is more cost effective to charge a flat rate.


Mayor Bravo proceeded to recap the consensus of the Council. Regarding Question One, an amendment to the existing ordinance is needed. Mr. Murphy will draft the amendment. Regarding Question Three, Mr. Lewis is to check on the status of an existing ordinance. Regarding Question Four, the Borough wishes to issue a flat charge for sewers to those property owners who utilize a private well. Regarding Question Two, Mr. Lewis will investigate how many private wells are currently in operation in Mountain Lakes and the Council will then revisit this issue.




      R 44-10 Dedication of Rider

      R 45-10 Dedication of Rider

      R 46-10 Dedication of Rider

      R 47-10 DEP Grant

      R 48-10 Appointment of Borough Attorney

      R 49-10 Appropriation Reserve Transfer

      R 50-10 Payment of Bills


       9. *MINUTES

      January 19, 2010



A.     Construction Official

B.     Health Officer

C.    DPW

D.    Police

E.     Fire


Prior to the roll call vote, Councilman Jackson asked Mr. Lewis to explain the dedication by riders. Mr. Lewis explained these resolutions give the Borough the legal basis to collect and hold money in trust accounts; for example, COAH fees.


Councilman Jackson asked about Resolution 48-10 and the amount of the retainer for legal fees. Mr. Lewis said he and Mr. Murphy had discussions and shared hourly records. The decision was made to reduce the amount of the retainer by $5,000. Councilman Jackson said he was under the impression that some litigation was included in the retainer; however, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Murphy both said litigation is billed separately.


Councilman Jackson requested clarification regarding Resolution 49-10. Mr. Lewis indicated this is a transfer from one appropriation reserve account to another.


Councilman Happer had questions on the bill list regarding the money paid on behalf of the Board of Education for paving. Mr. Lewis said the Borough will be reimbursed for this amount by the Board of Education. Councilman Happer asked about the bill paid to a property owner for electricity, and Mr. Lewis remarked this was reimbursement for an aerator used at Shadow Lake. The homeowner allows the Borough to run the aerator using his electrical outlet. Councilman Happer asked if there were any other bills pending for 2009 and Mr. Lewis said this bills list should cover the remainder of the bills from 2009.


Councilman Shaw presented corrections to the minutes.


*Consent Agenda Vote


Council Member





































































 Mr. Murphy had nothing to report.



Mr. Lewis told the Council he had a meeting last Friday in Denville with Chief Tovo, Court Administrators from Mountain Lakes and Denville, the Denville Administrator, Judge Zinna, and Kim Daniels-Walsh from Morris County AOC, in reference to the Shared Court Agreement. He said the good news was that all major issues had been resolved; however, the bad news was that the start of the shared court had been postponed until May 1st due to AOC issues.


Councilman Jackson asked what the AOC issues were. Mr. Lewis reported the AOC was backlogged and was not immediately available to do the required computer maintenance necessary for the transfer of records. Councilman Jackson said he was really disappointed and felt that Judge Bozonelis had done a disservice to both communities by delaying the process of sharing the court. Deputy Mayor Gormally pointed out that there is no template for communities wishing to merge courts and the AOC is ill-equipped to handle requests such as these. Councilman McWilliams pointed out that maybe the Borough would now be a template for other communities.


Councilman Shaw asked about the Lakes Management proposal. He mentioned to Mr. Lewis that in the past, bidders came to Lakes Management meetings and were interviewed so the Committee could hear their philosophy and background. Mr. Lewis indicated this was being considered. Deputy Mayor Gormally remarked the service from Allied Biological is phenomenal. Councilman Shaw said Allied Biological had been selected in the past because the company had a philosophy that was similar to the Borough’s. Deputy Mayor Gormally told the Council that Allied’s year-end presentation was quite good. Mr. Lewis said that since the lakes were so important to the Borough, all factors were being considered when reviewing proposals, not just the cost of the service.




Shade Tree - Councilwoman Emr said the Shade Tree Commission expected to nominate a new member for appointment by the next Council meeting.


Lakes Management – Councilman Jackson said there was some confusion regarding the dam repairs and this was discussed at the last meeting, in addition to the vendor proposals.


Planning Board – Councilman Jackson said there was discussion at the last Planning Board meeting about wells and the current Borough ordinances, which is why he wrote a discussion item for the Council.


Website – Councilman Happer asked all Council liaisons to encourage their committees to update and keep current their respective website information.


Mayor Bravo reported she emailed the Borough Council members with their sub-committee assignments and appointed chairpersons. She requested that the chairs begin planning their meetings.


Memorial Day Committee – Mayor Bravo reported that the Memorial Day Committee approached her in reference to making Memorial Day more solemn and geared toward veterans. In that regard, they requested changing the date of the annual Mountain Lakes’ awards ceremony to Mountain Lakes Day. The consensus of the Council was Memorial Day is very respectful and the annual awards should continue to be distributed at this event.


Centennial Committee – Mayor Bravo reported the Centennial Day Committee is searching for a location to place a wall containing memorial plaques. This project is just in the beginning stage. Mr. Lewis told the Council he emailed them the votes on the legacy projects.


2010 Awards (Citizen of the Year, Janice Hunts, YMCA) - Mayor Bravo asked if there was

an actual description of the criteria for the Citizen of the Year and Janice Hunts awards.

Councilman Shaw said he was unable to locate these during his term as Mayor. Mayor

Bravo asked Council members to forward to her names of all nominees.


Councilman Shaw reminded the Council that there are several committees with vacancies and to please work to get these positions filled. Mayor Bravo reminded the Council to send her future agenda items.


14. On motion by Councilman Shaw, second by Deputy Mayor Gormally, the meeting was adjourned at 10:08 p.m.


ADJOURNMENT at 10:08 p.m.


*Consent Agenda



                Attest:___________________________                       ________________________

                  Michele Reilly, Executive Assistant                      Blair Bravo, Mayor