March 28, 2011

7:30 P.M.


M I N U T E S  


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 4, 2011 and posted in the municipal building.


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




All Council members were present except for Deputy Mayor Happer and Councilwoman Bravo.  Also in attendance were James Bryce (for Borough Attorney Marty Murphy), Borough Manager Barry Lewis, and Borough Clerk Christina Whitaker.




                 Resolution 63


            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:


·        King of Kings Negotiations

·        PBA Negotiations

·        Contract Negotiation/Land Acquisition


            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.”


Councilwoman Bravo arrived at 7:35 p.m.


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



The annual Empty Bowls event will be held on April 27 at the Mountain Lakes High School.

The HPC will hold a historic arts and crafts event at the Community Church on Friday and Saturday of this week.




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


Mayor Gormally explained the Council’s policy of limiting each speaker to five (5) minutes and no yielding of time to another person.


Mark Di Ionno – Vale Road (Memorial Day Committee Member)

The Memorial Day Committee wishes to honor Brigadier General Frederick Castle during this year’s Memorial Day event.  General Castle, formerly of Lake Drive, was a Medal of Honor recipient. The Committee would like the Council to authorize some type of sign or marker, in the vicinity of his former home, as a permanent reminder of his service to his country. An invitation has been extended to his niece, Susannah Glidden of North Salem, NY to take part in the Borough’s Memorial Day ceremony and honor the late General Castle.


The Council supported the request and authorized Mr. Lewis to decide the best placement of a historic marker, sign or other appropriate means to honor General Castle.


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



A.  Historic Preservation Ordinance


John Grossman, co-chair of the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) presented the Council with a $25,000 check. The dollar amount represented the same amount advanced to the HPC for the Centennial book on historic Mountain Lakes. Mr. Grossman said the HPC was in a good financial state due to sales of the book. It would now move forward with an audio walking tour on CD and IPOD.


Tom Dagger, co-chair of the HPC explained the recommendations of the Committee regarding drafting and enacting historic preservation ordinances as part of the revised Historic Preservation Element in the Borough’s Master Plan. In July 2010 the Planning Board voted unanimously to update the Historic Preservation Element of the Master Plan.


The new Historic Preservation Element made the following recommendations:

1.     Reconstitute the Historic Preservation Committee to an Historic Preservation Advisory Commission (HPC).

2.     Establish a list of Key Landmarks.  The initial Key Landmarks would be the entrance gates to the Borough at the Boonton Township border on the Boulevard and at Crane Road, the Train Station, Lake Drive School, Briarcliff School, the Community Church, St. Peters Church, the Mountain Lakes Club, the original Midvale Stores building, the Mountain Lakes Garage, the Grimes House and the Esplanade.  This ordinance would allow for the expansion of the list of Key Landmarks as needed.


3.     Prohibit demolition or the significant alteration of the exteriors of Key Landmarks

4.     Prepare a list of municipally designated historic landmarks. This list would include all of the contributing structures, sites and buildings in the National and State Registers of Historic Places Mountain Lakes Historic District, and certain structures outside of that area.


5.     Provide incentives for the preservation of, and disincentives to the demolition of all historic structures.


Mr. Dagger said changes were necessary in order to enhance property values in the community as well as the preserve the historic heritage and character of the Borough.


The following is a summary of specific proposals by the HPC:


·        “By limiting the Zoning Board’s authority to grant variances for structures that replace torn down historic structures, and enhancing the Zoning Board’s authority to grant variances in cases where property owners are willing to rehabilitate and preserve historic structures, the proposal alters the economic tradeoffs in making the decision to tear down a historic structure. 

·        For historic Hapgood and Stucco residential structures, the proposed ordinances are far more modest than the full-fledged historic preservation regimes that have been successfully implemented in numerous New Jersey communities, including Washington Township, Hopewell Township, Montville, Madison, Newton, Montclair, and Plainfield. 

·        More stringent historic preservation protection is included in the proposals solely for specifically identified “Key Landmarks,” which are considered to be so uniquely identified with the history and character of Mountain Lakes that their loss would have an immediate and substantial adverse impact on the community. 

·        To provide a mechanism to save historic structures in cases where the other measures are not sufficient, the proposals also include a demolition waiting period to allow time for efforts to be made to find a buyer for a structure who would be willing to preserve the structure.”


Councilman Shaw said his concerns had not changed since the public hearings in 2005 and 2009 when the public and Council expressed concern over restricting property rights. At the 2005 public meeting the HPC’s representation was that any changes would not affect private property rights.   He said the Council concluded in 2009 that any revisions should not place restrictions on property rights. The new recommendations would deviate considerably from the principle the Council had supported. He said if these recommendations were to be pursued, public input would be imperative.


Councilman Jackson disagreed with Councilman Shaw. He said that what happened years ago should not be binding on this governing body. Councilman Jackson said he was very supportive of this proposal. It was time for the town to take a stand and move away from demolishing homes to preserving Hapgood and Belhall stucco homes. He added that the proposed zoning incentives were good and the “cooling off period” was not unreasonable.


Councilman Holmberg said he agreed with Councilman Jackson concerning directional incentives and making a list of key landmarks. However, he said he needed more information regarding the waiting period. He also noted that the issue of property restrictions has been a controversial issue in the Borough for the last 30-40 years. However, it was the responsibility of the elected officials to make changes for the sake of future generations.


Councilman McWilliams said he was generally in support of where the HPC was heading because he wanted to preserve the value of the Borough. However, he was conflicted because he supported a homeowner’s property rights. He said a sensitive approach was needed in pursuing any changes.


Councilwoman Bravo said it would not be easy balancing property rights but she supported moving forward. However, she added that she would have difficulty supporting a demolition ordinance.  Either way she agreed that it was important to have public input all along the way.


Mr. Dagger said the proposed recommendations stop short of strict regulation.


Mayor Gormally said the HPC has already done a great job in educating the residents of the Borough.  It was the consensus of the majority of Council to move forward and authorize the HPC to begin working on a draft ordinance.


7. ORDINANCE 01-11




Following introduction, the above ordinance will be published in accordance with the law and a public hearing will be held on April 11, 2011.


Prior to the vote Mr. Lewis explained that this ordinance would allow the Borough to save money by using competitive proposals and quotes at a higher threshold before the formal bidding requirements were required.


Council Member






















































































































R 60 - Budget Transfer

R 61 - Payment of Bills

R 62 - Award of Lake Management Contract – Allied Biological

SR 01-11 Jimmy Cohrs   



March 14, 2011


Council Member






































































 Mr. Bryce had nothing to report.




Capital Budget Discussion

Water/Sewer Budget

Municipal Budget/Current Fund Appropriations   


Mr. Lewis explained that recent information regarding upgrading of water meters has made it necessary for him to review the original plans recommended by previous managers.


The Morris County Purchasing Cooperative price for asphalt has come in at a very low price making it advantageous to focus on infrastructure upgrades.   


Mr. Lewis explained his recommendation for the 2011 municipal budget. He also provided spreadsheets with eighteen different scenarios as requested by the Council at the last meeting. (hereto attached)


The Manager’s recommended budget includes funding to permit up to 2% increases in employee salaries, maintains the current health plan offerings in the State Health Benefits Plan, and requires employee contributions to health care costs of the higher of 1.5% of salary or 10% of premium, capped at 2% of salary for any individual employee. Under the Manager’s recommended budget, the average assessed home in the Borough would see a small increase of $27 for the whole year in their municipal taxes.


Mr. Lewis explained that a number of items in the budget are increasing that are beyond the Borough’s control and that most of the other operating expense lines have been held to no increase.  As a result, any further reduction in the budget could only be achieved by eliminating salary increases, reducing employee health coverage and requiring higher contributions with no cap.   Even under the most drastic scenario, the increase in taxes on the average home would still be about $10 a year.  To get below that small increase would require cuts in areas of service to the public. 


Councilman Jackson said he had not changed his mind and he still wanted a 0% tax increase, no raises, except for selected employees, and mandatory transfer to NJ Direct 15, with employee contribution toward health care at 1.5% of salary or 10% of premium, whichever was higher with no cap.


Councilman McWilliams said the Borough hired Mr. Lewis to supply the Council with his professional advice. He supported the recommendation of the Manager.


Councilman Jackson said the Council made it clear to Mr. Lewis that it was looking for a 0% increase and to have all employees under the NJ Direct 15 health benefit plan.


Mr. Lewis explained that he was not stating that all employees would automatically receive across the board 2% raises, but that with such a small amount, it was difficult to make merit raise distinctions between employees.   Mr. Lewis then asked Councilman Jackson if he would support 2% raises for employees if he brought the budget back to Council with a 0% tax rate increase.


Councilman Jackson said no. He said that if Mr. Lewis was able to bring in the budget at a 0% tax increase, then he would consider agreeing to raises based on performance only for employees making under $50,000 a year.


Councilman Holmberg said it was obvious that Mr. Lewis had put a great deal of work and thought into the information he supplied the Council. However, he would also like to see a 0% increase in taxes because the economic crises had affected Mountain Lakes’ residents as well as Borough employees. He added that the Borough may have to consider cutting services in the future and that residents should be asked whether they are willing to accept service cuts to control taxes.


Councilman Shaw said his position remained the same as the last meeting. He said Mr. Lewis was hired to manage the Borough and should have the discretion to mitigate with a formula cap of 2%. He noted that the Finance Committee met and reviewed the recommended budget, and in light of the loss in State aid the members of the Committee present supported of the Manager’s recommended budget.


Both Councilman Shaw and McWilliams said that raises should be at the discretion of the Manager. The final budget was the responsibility of the Council.


Councilwoman Bravo said she would like the Manager to provide a budget incorporating the recent recommendation of the Personnel Committee, referring to a pool of money, to be used to mitigate any large impact of the health contribution requirements on lower salaried employees.


Mayor Gormally explained that the Personnel Committee recommended that the budget include a pool of money to be set aside for those employees that would be impacted the most by the changes being proposed in health benefits. It would be the Manager’s responsibility to use that money for that purpose.


Mr. Lewis said that he had time to think about the Personnel Committee’s suggestion over the weekend and he felt the recommendation was an unwise approach.  Specifically, he felt that the mitigation of harsh impacts would be better addressed by capping the contributions.  This approach would avoid the Borough paying FICA and pension percentages on increased salaries and provide flexibility to raise the cap in future years without having to take salary away from employees.  He explained that the monetary effect was the same, meaning that the same dollar amount of mitigation could be provided by increasing salaries or limiting contributions.


Councilman Jackson said that at some point the “high performance employees” would have to join in with what was happening in the real world. He added that the Borough could not continue to reward employees by making cuts in other services. He said raises needed to be balanced with what was happening in the private sector. At prior Council meetings Councilman Jackson has declared that due to the economic crisis, many people in the private sector are not getting raises.


The Manager took exception to the statement that nobody in the private sector was getting raises.  He reminded the Council that he had previously provided many articles from the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Money magazines, and other financial publications that indicated that most employers planned to give their employees raises in 2011 with the average between 2% and 3%. 


Mayor Gormally said he was more committed than ever to bring in a 0% tax increase budget.


Motion by Councilman Jackson, second by Mayor Gormally, to use scenario D, giving the Manager the discretion to address personnel impact on a case by case basis: Roll Call Vote: Councilman McWilliams, No, Councilman Holmberg, No, Councilman Jackson, Yes, Councilwoman Bravo, No, Councilman Shaw, No, Mayor Gormally, Yes.  Roll Call vote.  (Motion Defeated)


Motion by Councilman Shaw, second by Councilman McWilliams, to implement the Manager’s recommendation which would increase taxes $27 a year on the average assessed home, Roll Call

Vote: Councilman McWilliams, Yes, Councilman Holmberg, No, Councilman Jackson, No, Councilwoman Bravo, No, Councilman Shaw, Yes, Mayor Gormally, No. (Motion Defeated) 


Mayor Gormally suggested that the Council members might want to begin to think about a compromise position and focused on the scenario that provides 1% pool and requires the switch to NJ Direct 15.


Councilwoman Bravo said she was not in favor of a 2% salary increase across the board but would like to see something presented that would be somewhere in between the motions just made.


The Council asked the Manager to revisit the budget and some of the other scenarios, in light of new revenues and other factors and see if he can bring the budget in at or nearer to a 0% increase in the tax rate.


The Council would like an inventory of all the Borough’s vehicles for the next meeting.




Councilman Holmberg said the Fire Department is in need of volunteers.


The Mountain Lakes Police & Fire Departments are sponsoring the 4th semi-annual Shredding Day on Saturday, April 30.  Money collected will be donated the Boonton Kiwanis.


Councilman McWilliams said the Centennial Committee has numerous events planned.  The annual Empty Bowls event will be held on Wednesday, April 27 at the Mountain Lakes High School in conjunction with the Centennial Street Fair in the MLHS gym.


The Recreation Commission will hold the annual Trout Derby on Saturday April 9. Stocking of the lake will take place at 4-5 p.m. at Birchwood Lake on Friday, April 8.


The 1st annual Easter Parade will be held on April 16th at 3 p.m. There will be egg rolling races, a contest for the best decorated Easter egg, carnival games and face painting.


The Recreation Commission will seek a representative from the school to work with the Commission regarding the use of fields.


Councilman Shaw said the Finance Committee discussed the Manager’s proposed budget and were supportive of the budget as recommended.


Councilwoman Bravo said the quotes for landscaping and planting at the Cove will be due to the Manager on Monday.


Councilman Shaw said the Highlands grant given to Mountain Lakes to fund expenses associated with completing the seven modules in order to submit a completed Petition for Plan Conformance still has an open balance.  The Highlands Council wants to know if the Borough still plans to submit a Plan. If so, the NJ Department of Treasury must be informed by April 29, 2011, otherwise the account will be closed out.  Councilman Shaw said he saw no down side to leaving it open.


Mayor Gormally reminded the Council that all nominations for the Janice Hunts and Citizen of the Year awards should be in by now.



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


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




Motion by Councilman Shaw, second by Councilman McWilliams, to adjourn the meeting at10:50 p.m. with all members in favor signifying by “Aye.”


*Consent Agenda


Attest: March 28, 2011



___________________________                    _______________________________ 

   Christina Whitaker, Clerk                                      Charles X. Gormally, Mayor