March 19, 2014 at 8:31 AM
SUMMIT, NJ—A $110,000 renovation project for the Summit Public Library received the backing of common council on Tuesday with council approval of the award of the contract for the project to PAL Pro Builders LLC of Elmwood Park.
Council finance chairman Mike McTernan noted that the project, which will be paid for entirely from the library's endowment, will enable the library to move around a number of offices and to make room for more programs and allow more groups to use the library.
On another finance matter, the governing body approved a resolution urging the state legislature to make permanent the 2 percent “cap” on employee contract arbitration awards that is scheduled to “sunset” on April 1.
McTernan explained the “cap” on economic factors in employee contracts that go before arbitrators was adopted in December 2010 along with Governor Chris Christie's plan to put a 2 percent lid on property tax increases.
He added that if the provision expires it will cause difficulties to municipalities, which still must maintain the 2 percent property tax cap.
In addition to the 2 percent cap on municipal tax increases, council president Robert Rubino said the Summit council should urge the legislature to force Union County to stick to a 2 percent cap on tax increases.
McTernan replied that, although the 2 percent county cap was a great idea, the state should force counties to close the “loopholes” that enable them to go above the cap.
Second Ward councilman Richard Madden noted Union County is allowed to take exemptions to the cap limit for salaries, healthcare costs, pensions and debt service. This year, he noted, the county's tax increase will be more than double the cap limit.
On another fiscal matter, the council adopted a total of $6,779,250 in emergency temporary appropriations.
The finance chairman explained that the temporary appropriations, amounting to about 26 percent of last year's budget, are permitted so the city can meet its obligations until the 2014 final municipal budget is adopted.
He said the operating budget probably will be introduced at the next council meeting and the introduction of the capital budget will be acted on a few weeks after that.
On another matter, the council delayed the award of a $94,500 contract for architectural services in connection with planning for a new fire headquarters.
Public safety chairman Patrick Hurley said the delay was to enable the council to coordinate the fire headquarters project with a number of other initiatives involving the downtown area.
The council also awarded a $29,450.44 contract to Pat Scanlon Landscaping of New City, NY for landscaping in connection with the Village Green renovation project.
McTernan noted that the cost to the city will be paid back for the landscaping costs as part of a $43,000 grant from the Summit Area Development Corporation for the entire project, which also includes benches and a decorative wall.
Governing body members also approved a $33,573.16 contract with SAGE Eldercare, Inc. to continue to provide services to city senior citizens and the appointment of Sarah Henderson as deputy municipal court administrator.
In addition, an ordinance was adopted setting a 15-minute parking limit near 789 Springfield Avenue from 8 am to 11 pm, except Sundays and holidays.
Hurley explained that the area covered by the ordinance is near Kings Supermarket off of Passaic Avenue.
In another action at the meeting, Councilman-at-Large Gregory Drummond, in his capacity as acting mayor in the absence of Mayor Ellen Dickson, swore in William McAdam as a captain in the city's police auxiliary.