UCCF 5/18/97: $350K for UCIA Space Study

By John Bury | May 22, 2017

2017-383: Resolution Authorizing the County Manager to enter into a Shared Services Agreement with the Union County Improvement Authority for Implementation of a Strategic Plan for the Union County Space Study in an amount not to exceed $350,000.
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UCCF 5/18/17: Passive Lenape Park Trap & Skeet Property

By John Bury | May 21, 2017

2017-381: Supporting the Redevelopment of the former property known as the “Lenape Park Trap and Skeet”. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2011-029)

2017-382: Amending Resolution Number 2016-580, a Professional Engineering Service Contract with CME Associates of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey for the provision of Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) services related to the former Lenape Park Trap and Skeet facility located in Cranford, New Jersey, to provide additional Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) Services in an amount not to exceed $97,250 for a new contract amount not to exceed $585,521. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2011-029)

2016-580: Amending Resolution Number 2016-44, a Professional Engineering Service Contract with CME Associates of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey for the provision of Licensed Site Remediation Professional  (LSRP) serv1ces related to the former Lenape Park Trap and Skeet facility located in Cranford, New Jersey, in an amount not to exceed $133,210 for a new contract amount not to exceed $488,721. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2011-029)

2016-44: Amending Resolution Number 2015-893 adopted November 12, 2015, a Professional Engineering Service Contract with CME Associates of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey to provide additional engineering services related to the former Lenape Park Trap and Skeet facility located in Cranford, New Jersey, in an amount not to exceed $15,150 for a new contract amount not to exceed $365,061. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2011-029)

2015-893: Amending Resolution Number 2014-596, a Professional Engineering Service Contract with CME Associates of Monmouth Junction; New Jersey to provide additional Environmental Consulting Serv1ces – Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) Services to perform Remedial Investigation at Lenape Park Trap & Skeet, Township of Cranford, County of Union, New Jersey in an amount not to exceed $157,740 for a new contract amount not to exceed $340,911. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2011-029)

2014-596: Authorizing the County Manager to award a Professional Engineering Service Contract to CME Associates, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, to provide Environmental Consulting Services – Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) Services to perform site investigation at the Lenape Park in an amount not to exceed $183,171. (UC Engineering Project No. 2011-029)

So what has all this bought so far?
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UCCF 5/18/17: Miscellany

By John Bury | May 19, 2017

Before we get to the other specific resolutions from the last freeholder meeting here are a few other happenings:

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Watchung Mountain Biking Resolution

By John Bury | May 18, 2017

2017-412: Amending Resolution 2016-166, which approved the Watchung Reservation Trails Master Plan, to reflect this Board’s disapproval of those portions of the Watchung Reservation Trails Master Plan recommending and providing for mountain biking in the Watchung Reservation.

Tonight, after 50 public speakers and a special freeholder comment session before the vote and reactions afterward (videos on all follow) we got the vote:

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Watchung Mountain Biking Resolution Back On Agenda

By John Bury | May 18, 2017

It was on before but was pulled before the vote. Tonight, it’s back on (as of now):

2017-412: Amending Resolution 2016-166, which approved the Watchung Reservation Trails Master Plan, to reflect this Board’s disapproval of those portions of the Watchung Reservation Trails Master Plan recommending and providing for mountain biking in the Watchung Reservation.
According to the nj.com story there is also some suspense:

On the draft agenda for the meeting is a resolution stating that the freeholders disapprove of the inclusion of a mountain bike trail in the master plan for the reservation. The resolution is proposed by Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen and freeholders Linda Carter and Bette Jean Kowalski.

Bergen, when asked this week about the resolution, declined to say how he will vote.

“We will listen to the public,” he said, explaining that freeholders expect people on both sides of the issue to make statements before the board votes. “It’s inappropriate to discuss my view in advance,” he said.

In my ten years of monitoring these meetings I do not remember a resolution that made the regular meeting agenda ever being voted down with 99% approved unanimously. The general public can vent but as to being listened to – that’s not on the agenda in Union County.

 

Freeholder’s Wife Reportedly Hired by County

By Scotch Plains | May 17, 2017

Sources inside the County inform us that Phyllis Mirabella, wife of current Freeholder Al Mirabella, has been hired as a Purchasing Manager for Union County College. Her husband already draws two salaries on the taxpayer dime, as a freeholder and as Town Manager of Scotch Plains. Although her exact salary has not yet been disclosed, between their three taxpayer-funded incomes the couple will likely be making in the neighborhood of a quarter million dollars a year.

Mrs. Mirabella’s linkedin profile shows no previous purchasing work experience or QPA certification, which is similar to the lack of experience her husband had in municipal management before his hiring by Scotch Plains’ fomer mayor Kevin Glove in 2015 after supposedly losing his private sector job. This was seen as a move to put Al Mirabella in a position to retire with the pension of a full-time employee while actually only serving the minimum three years as a full-timer to maximize his benefits. This hiring decision, coupled with a secret 4% pay raise given to him by Glover in 2016 without the knowledge of the rest of the Town Council, contributed to Glover’s brutal defeat in last year’s election and the tarring of the local Democratic Committee as an appendage of the County. Since Scotch Plains seems to cycle through Town Managers every couple of years, his wife’s hiring could be seen as an insurance policy protecting the couple should the Town Manager role open up again due to a change in leadership.

Al Mirabella was last spotted in the middle of the day this Tuesday at the ribbon-cutting for the refurbished Warinanco Sports Center, appearing in the role of freeholder. Since it is 30 minutes each way from Scotch Plains to Warinanco, we assume he took a long lunch from his Town Manager role.

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Salary and Pension Update

By John Bury | May 9, 2017

The state has updated their listing of people in the state pension system for both active participants as of 12/31/16 and retired participants as of 3/31/17 and you may be interested in seeing those related to Union County.

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UCCF 4/27/17: GAP Spending Plan

By John Bury | May 9, 2017

2017-350: Authorizing the County Manager to approve the 2017 GAP Spending Plan in the total amount not to exceed $295,905 for subcontracted services to be provided during the 8 month budget period of May 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017; further authorizing the transfer of funds among the agencies during the contract period should service needs change and/or if any of the agencies fails to meet its contractual obligation.
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UCCF 4/27/17: Cap Bank

By John Bury | May 8, 2017

2017-339: Resolution to exceed the County tax levy limit and to establish a CAP Bank (N.J.S. 40A: 4-45.14).
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UCCF 4/27/17: Hoarding Surplus

By John Bury | May 5, 2017


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After months of review the freeholders came up with a savings of $724 thousand to get the amount to be raised by taxation for 2017 to $354,769,823 (an increase of $9,495,027 from the 2016 tax levy of $345,274,766). As you will see in this blog there could have been NO tax increase (as is the case in at least three other counties) or there could have even have been a substantial tax DECREASE. It all comes down to the surplus.
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Surplus is an essential aspect of government budgeting. Budgets need to prepared at the beginning of the year and money anticipated to be coming from the state or federal governments cannot be included. Usually that money comes in throughout the year and the surplus remains.

In 2014 Union County sold Runnells Hospital.

With that as background the rest of this story will be told in spreadsheets based on data from Union County budgets going back to 2005 and surplus figures from all counties for 2016 and from the fourteen counties that have their budgets online for 2017 as well as the corresponding tax amounts for 2016 and 2017. Draw your own conclusions.

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