Verona Workshop Reviews Capital, IT Budgets
Council hosted third roundtable Tuesday night prior to April 1 introduction.
The Verona Township Council held the third in a series of budget workshops Tuesday night and is now one step closer to introducing the $21,310,234 township budget for 2013.
During Tuesday night's special session, Township Engineer Jim Helb presented the capital budget and Information Technology and Office of Emergency Management Director Jeff Hayes presented expenses and accomplishments for the communications department.
In the water department section of the capital budget, Helb discussed the replacement of water meters and equipment at a cost of $25,000.
“Fifty percent of our revenue for the water utility comes from all our commercial water meters,” said Helb. “We must maintain the integrity of our water meters,” he said, “what happens is they seem to slow down as time goes on.”
The township is also looking to purchase two standby generators for $375,000, but may get a 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The generators would be installed at two of Verona's water wells as a backup in case of an interruption from the Passaic Valley Water Commission, like what happened during recent storms, said Helb.
One well is located at Fairway Avenue, while the other is located at the Community Center Annex.
It also may be necessary for a backup to the backup generators, said Hayes, which could be made portable and hitched to the back of a truck to bring where it is needed. To put it into perspective, Hayes said, the backup generator would be able to run the Verona Civic Center three to four times over.
The proposed capital budget also calls for a new street sweeper, which would replace an old one from 1998 and cost the township around $240,000.
Verona resident Al De Old asked how often the street sweeper is being used.
“I’m around town and I don't see it,” he said. “Is it really worth this kind of expenditure?”
Street sweeping is based on how much the roadway needs it, said Township Manager Joseph Martin. Every road is hit twice a season, even Bloomfield Avenue, which is a county road, he said. The sweeper not only cleans the streets but also cleans the catch basins of any plastics or metals.
“Instead of looking at whether or not you see the street sweeper, look at the cleanliness of the roadway,” he added. “With few exceptions, Verona's roadways are between clean and immaculate.”
The proposed capital improvements for the 2013 budget total $5,536,000.
Hayes highlighted some of the major accomplishments of the IT Department and gave an overview on some imperative technology needs.
“One of the things we do with our networks and services is design them to avoid future expenses,” said Hayes.
One way, he said, is by doing a lot of things in-house which saves the town money.
In-house computer upgrades and repairs save the township about $125 an hour while network design, engineering and maintenance save around $175 an hour. Their abilities enable them to share services with other towns such as Roseland.
Verona's IT Department is able to remotely access and fix Roseland's computers without ever having to leave their computers.
Another unique accomplishment is the creation of mobile device apps to be used by township employees to monitor storms or provide the fire department with maps of water mains.
“Trust me, no other town does this,” said Hayes.
The total budget for communications totals $300,407.
The council will introduce the budget and present tax implications during its April 1 meeting.