Hopatcong Council Meeting – Supporting the Community – Minimize Spending – Fighting for Residents -&- More

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The Borough of Hopatcong successfully held its bi-monthly Council Meeting on April 1, 2020, while using Video Conferencing for the first time, and to their credit, it may be the new normal in the future.

Major highlights from the meeting include the work from the Mayor, Council and especially the Community Center in supporting residents, new 2020 budget with no Tax Increase, Open Space Committee and the fight behind the scenes for the residents of the community.

2020 BCM 04 01 2020 Movie CoverWhile these highlights are for your convenience, we urge residents to watch the full 45 minute video to understand the full details of the meeting.

Committee Reports:

  • The Community Center continues to respond to donations and requests by phone (973 810-3238) or email (resourcecenter@hopatcong.org)
  • Donations of food and supplies to the Community Center are sanitized before no-contact delivery
  • The Community Center has helped 24+ families to date
  • John PaulCouncilmember Dawn Roberts has received calls about what to do with investments, she referred anyone with Questions to John-Paul Tancona from Edward Jones (973) 398-0028
  • Councilmember Richard Schindelar asked that residents support the local businesses whenever possible for takeout or delivery
  • Councilmember Bradley Hoferkamp advised that they are looking at freezing capital expenditures during this period due to COVID-19
  • Councilmember Ryan Smith advised that the Chamber of Commerce Expo moved to June 24th, and please complete your 2020 Census (my2020census.gov)
  • Councilmember Jennifer Johnson provided an update on the school district and two important COVID-19 web sites
  • Councilmember John Young advised that Recreation, Environment Committee, Municipal Alliance and Open-Space are all on hold right now, with events postponed, canceled or pending
  • The Borough has been able to procure everything required for First Responders in the Borough

Administrator’s Report:

  • The Recycling Center has been temporally closed due to the high-volume of usage from non-residents. We are looking into ways to safely check residency without contact

Public Comment:

  • Several residents thanked the Mayor and Council for working to keep the town safe

  • Lisa congratulated councilmember Dawn Roberts on the 1st anniversary on the Community Center

  • Alex Mclean President of the School Board provided an update that schools will be closed until at least April 30, 2020. The district continues to operate with remote learning and the delivery of lunches. The Board of Education will be meeting shortly to oppose Bill A-3902 to Delay Tax Payments to School Districts

  • Jule Girman reminded residents that it’s a great time to get out on the trails using social distancing, and felt that the Video Conference is an excellent way to hold a meeting

  • Michele Guttenberger asked if the Borough is taking the necessary steps to tighten the belt by furloughing nonessential employees where their activities have been shut down. She is hearing things may be closed until August. If we have full-time employees, they should move to State Unemployment. She continued by explaining, “They are unnecessary and idle, and they need to be laid off, that is what a corporation would do.” (See 24 minutes into the video)

    Hopatcong Lake Regional News obtained the following quote from Michele Guttenberger after the meeting. “As a residential taxpayer, I’m frustrated that the Mayor and Council are not in sync with the current crisis. They are handling this as business-as-usual and not addressing the economic conditions of this pandemic.”

Ordinances

  • Introduction: Ordinance 08-2020, Open Space Funds for Recreation Improvements

AN ORDINANCE TO APPROPRIATE $40,000 FROM MUNICIPAL OPEN SPACE RECREATION TRUST FOR THE PURPOSE OF RECREATIONAL IMPROVEMENTS [Passed]
While the ordinance was moved to postpone, the ordinance passed with two council members opposing

  • Final Hearing (roll call vote) 1. Ordinance 07-2020, COLA, Ordinance to exceed the budget 2020

CALENDAR YEAR 2019 ORDINANCE TO EXCEED THE MUNICIPAL BUDGET APPROPRIATION LIMITS AND TO ESTABLISH A CAP BANK (N.J.S.A. 40A:445.14) [Passed]

Resolutions

  • 2020-66, Authorizing the use of Emergency Procurement & use of Storm Recovery reserves [Passed]
  • 2020-67, Transfer of Appropriation reserves [Passed]
  • 2020-68, Treatment Works Approval [Passed] – Based upon review from Borough Engineer

New Business:

  • The Open Space Committee was announced, with the list to be published shortly.

  • Introduction of the 2020 municipal budget [Passed]

The Borough Administrator Ron Tappan thanked the Department heads and the Finance committee for their hard work on the budget

The 2020 Borough budget has no tax increases for residents while spending more on capital improvements ($600,000 to $1.2M) and paying down the debt ($500,000 in 2020) for the Borough

Meanwhile, the CFO Lorraine Rossetti reported that they are curtailing all unnecessary spending in light of the crisis until they get a full understanding of the impact of the revenues. Some departments have no incoming revenue, so they will curtail all unnecessary spending. Each department head has been advised

Mayor’s Comments:

Hopatcong Community Center In1Expressed his appreciation for Councilperson Dawn Roberts for her work with the Community Center that just celebrated its first anniversary. “When it started it was just a vision, and thanks to the hard work of Dawn Roberts, it has materialized into something that I never expected would be so effective and good for our town and community.”

“I’m deeply appreciative of anyone and everyone is supporting this effort. It’s critically important and it does a great job.”

Fire Engine BirthdayThe Fire Department is offering to do a drive-by salute to a kid that is having a birthday or special occasion

The Borough of Hopatcong is posting the Board of Health information on the COVID-19, as that is the most accurate information

The Borough will be picking up leaves in April and May per the Borough calendar

Asks that you bear with us (Council) as this is a new world, be safe. If you know if anyone in need please contact him directly. We will handle it quickly, efficiently and confidentially.

The Mayor is included in multiple conference calls with the County, Governor, etc. fighting for the residents of the Borough

At this time the Borough can forgive interest and late fees but will not forgive payments. He is asking for State and Federal assistance for those that need assistance. His goal is to take the pressure off those that need help

Borough employees will continue to be employed, there are some directives from the State, Municipal employees are not a corporation, we will not be cold to our people. We are using technology and people are working from home.

“We are keeping our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road, and do the very best that we can for our residents and our people and the stress that they are under today”

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