Borough of Brielle, NJ
| May 16, 2008
May 16, 2008
MINUTES SPECIAL MEETING MAY 16TH, 2008 START: 4:30 P.M.
PRESENT: MAYOR NICOL, COUN. BOLGER, GARRUZZO, GORHAM, NOLAN, SCOTT & SHAAK. ATTORNEY BEN MONTENEGRO & ADMINISTRATOR NOLAN.
Mayor Nicol opened the meeting in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act and Coun. Nolan, seconded by Coun. Garruzzo introduced Resolution 08-61 (see insertion). (Note the salient points of the resolution were read by the Clerk).
Coun. Scott admitted that she did not have expertise in this area and had not been a member of the "Ad Hoc" Committee, but she had been advised of the concerns of her colleagues and of the public. The Council had met with members of the Board of Education on Thursday and the issues raised by Coun. Bolger had been answered to Coun. Scott's satisfaction. Brielle had the lowest cost per pupil in the County. Recent testing performance had been embarrassing and Coun. Scott felt it was time to make up for past deficiencies and "catch-up" with the rest of the County. Coun. Scott was prepared to vote "yes" on the resolution as introduced.
Coun. Nolan said that during the past week he had been engaged in researching the budget. His goal had been to find reductions without having an adverse impact on education, but when he saw that Brielle ranked 609 out of 643 districts in terms of cost per pupil he had a concern. Given increase enrollment and the rate of inflation he believed that any further reductions would have an adverse impact. He was prepared to vote "yes".
Coun. Garruzzo agreed with Coun. Nolan. He advised the public that the Thursday meeting had provided him with more information and although he recognized that the budget had been voted down and it was the will of the people, the additional information provided by the School Board had changed his mind; he too was prepared to vote "yes".
Coun. Shaak explained that he had to recluse himself from the proceedings as his spouse was a teacher at the Elementary School.
Coun. Bolger advised the public that he had listened to their concerns at the Monday, May 12th, Council Meeting. He had been enlightened as to certain things and he understood that this was an emotional issue. He noted that tempers had flared in anticipation of what the Council might do. Parents and teachers having one position, older residents having a different perspective. Coun. Bolger reminded the public that he had been a teacher before becoming an attorney and he came from a family of educators. He also pointed out that his father had been referenced at the Council Meeting as he had had a Middle School named in his honor in Keansburg where he had been Superintendent of Schools, although he questioned the relevance of that fact to the business at hand.
Coun. Bolger noted that several comments had been made concerning the former Superintendent, Joe Torrone. The comments had been negative and had resulted in wild applause. Coun. Bolger thought that there been general satisfaction with Mr. Torrone and he found the negative reaction odd, especially in view of the fact that Mr. Torrone had been rewarded with a new contract, and the Board was still paying off his $48,000 sick time compensation package.
Coun. Bolger observed that the negative feelings went beyond personality, but applied to the level of
academic achievement and maintenance of the building. Coun. Bolger offered that he had "shone a light" on the fiscal management of the school. He had heard of problems with the bathrooms, lack of computers and so on, but these were administrative issues and they had nothing to do with Coun. Bolger's concerns over the amount of the school budget. In point of fact there was no line item in the current budget that addressed these concerns nor had there been in prior budgets. Coun. Bolger did concede that al least the current budget had the seed money for future technology.
Addressing those who were critical of his letter, Coun. Bolger stood by it and said it "contained the truth". His statements were "factually accurate" and he was concerned that the proposed budget continued "more of the same". He cited the inclusion of a fourth kindergarten teacher when the enrollment was at 47 students. The Councilman cited the resignation and retirements of teachers that afforded the Board an opportunity for fiscal responsibility. These reductions in staff did not impact on the children's education.
Coun. Bolger recognized Superintendent Carlson's concerns over academic performance and she desired the opportunity to overhaul the system, but the current budget was just more of the same, he would have preferred for Ms. Carlson to propose a new budget that addressed those concerns and that would take a different position.
Turning to "performance" Coun. Bolger advised that he had reviewed the school's performance record and "he didn’t want to go there", but apparently there remained a lack of concern as the budget included $12,000 for playground equipment while the Board continued to state that the school was inadequately funded based on the cost per pupil argument that Coun. Bolger felt was not an accurate measurement as it was unclear as to what was being compared using this statistic.
Coun. Bolger stated that he had looked at other districts and he recognized the concerns of the parents and teachers, but he also recognized the concerns of the senior citizen he spoke with who sobbed that he had to sell his home in Brielle after thirty-eight years because he could not afford the taxes.
Coun. Bolger proffered that a "balance had to be struck" and budgeting had to be more responsible. He noted that he had been told repeatedly that the budget was driven by special education, unanticipated special needs students and staffing. Since several excellent teachers were leaving that should impact on staffing.
In closing Coun. Bolger observed that he did not feel that the budget addressed the "real concerns" and he hoped that the new Superintendent and the Board would begin to address them and to make the student of the Elementary School more competitive and better equipped to face the challenges of higher education. As for this budget it was simply more of the same and he would vote "no". Coun. Gorham echoed the opinions of Coun. Nolan & Garruzzo and said that in light of everything he had learned his decision was "to invest in education" and would vote "yes".
Vote: Coun. Garruzzo, Gorham, Nolan & Scott; all aye. Coun. Bolger; nay. Coun. Shaak abstained. The resolution passed.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:55 p.m. on a motion by Coun. Garruzzo, seconded by Coun. Scott.
RESOLUTION NO:. 08-61 DATE: MAY 16TH, 2008
RESOLUTION OF THE BOROUGH COUNCIL OF THE BOROUGH OF BRIELLE CONCERNING THE BOROUGH COUNCIL'S REVIEW OF THE ANNUAL SCHOOL BUDGET FOR THE 2008-2009 SCHOOL YEAR
WHEREAS, on April 15th, 2008, the annual school budget for the academic year 2008-2009, as prepared by the Borough of Brielle Board of Education (hereinafter referred to as "Board"), was submitted to the voters of the Borough and was defeated; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 18A: 22-37, the General Fund Budget for the year 2008-2009 has been presented to the Borough Council (hereinafter referred to as "Council") for its determination of the amount necessary to be appropriated for each item appearing in the General Fund budget; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey State Statute requires the Council to certify the amount of local tax revenue to support a thorough and efficient system of education where a tax levy referendum of the Board is defeated by the voters of a municipality; and
WHEREAS, in the course of reviewing the defeated school budget, the Council and the Borough's professional staff, both independently and with representatives of the Board, conducted a series of meetings which are set forth on Schedule "A" annexed hereto and made a part hereof; and
WHEREAS, in fulfilling its legal obligations, the Borough Council has thoroughly considered, reviewed and discussed all documents and materials provided by the Board; and
WHEREAS, the Council finds that (1) the provision of a thorough and efficient system of quality education to the children of the Borough of Brielle is of the highest priority and utmost importance to the Council, the Board, the parents, children and all citizens of the Borough of Brielle; and (2) the provision of such an educational system is essential to the continued development of the community and the future of our children; and
WHEREAS, the Council further finds that: (1) the provision of educational services to the children of our community, as the provision of all governmental services, should be rendered in a cost effective manner; that all reasonable and necessary administrative efforts should be made to realize economies in the provision of educational services so as to avoid unnecessary expenditure of public funds, particularly in administrative, operational and maintenance aspects of the school system which do not directly relate to the quality of education provided to our children; and (2) the Board and all public bodies should be mindful of the fact that the ever increasing tax burden upon our taxpayers must not be unnecessarily increased; and
WHEREAS, the Council has determined that certain line items in the annual school budget for the year 2008-2009 proposed by the Board may be reduced without any adverse effect upon the quality of education which is provided to the students of the Borough of Brielle school system, which reductions are set forth in this Resolution; and
WHEREAS, the reasons for each such reduction in the annual school budget have been considered and addressed by the Council and are set forth in detail in Schedule "B" annexed hereto and made a part hereof; and
WHEREAS, the Council has been both reasonable and conservative in its review and recommended reductions in the line items specified.
NOW THEREFORE, HE IT RESOLVED by the Borough Council of the Borough of Brielle as follows:
1. The Council, after due consideration and consultation with the Board, hereby finds and determines that the following tine items contained in the annual school budget for the school year 2008-2009 can be reduced without negative effect upon the thorough and efficient provision of public education in the Borough, as follows:
Line Item Council
Series No. Description Reduction
Budget was restored. No reductions.
The supporting reasons for each line item reduction shown above are set forth on Schedule "B" annexed hereto, which the Council hereby adopts as its expression of reasons for the line item reductions made to the 2008-2009 annual school budget.
2. The Council hereby certifies to the Monmouth County Board of Taxation and to the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools the following amount relating to the General Fund to be raised by local taxation for the Borough of Brielle School District in the 2008-2009 school year, is as follows:
a. The original tax levy for General Fund contained
on the ballot pertaining to the 2008-2009 annual school budget of the Borough of Brielle Board of Education
was as follows: $ 10,137,139.00
b. The total amount of the net reduction in theGeneral Fund found by the Borough Council to beAppropriate is as follows:Reductions contained in Paragraph 1 $ZERO
The amount of the tax levy hereby certified by the Borough Council of the Borough of Brielle to the Monmouth County Board of Taxation and to the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools for
2008-2009 General Fund as follows: $10,137,139.00
3. The Council hereby certifies that the revised school budget for Borough of Brielle for the year 2008-2009 containing the line item reductions as noted above, in accordance with the reasons for such reductions as expressed here, is sufficient to provide a thorough and efficient system of education in the Borough of Brielle for the 2008-2009 school year.
4. The Borough Clerk be and is hereby authorized and directed to file a certified copy of this Resolution with the Board of Education of the Borough of Brielle no later than May I9`h, 2008.
5. The Borough Clerk be and is hereby further authorized and directed to file two (2) certified copies of this Resolution with Carole Knopp Morris, the Executive Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools and with Monmouth County Board of Taxation no later than May 19th, 2008.
VOTE: AYES NAYS ABSTAIN ABSENT DISQUALIFY
5 4 1 0 0 I
DISQUALIFY: Shaak as spouse is employed by School System.
This is to certify that the foregoing Resolution was adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Brielle at a public business meeting held on May 12th, 2008.
Thomas F. Nolan Borough Clerk
ITEMIZATION OF MEETINGS UNDERTAKEN BY THE BOROUGH COUNCIL INDEPENDENTLY AND/OR WITH THE BOROUGH BOARD OF EDUCATION IN CONNECTION WITH THE COUNCIL'S REVIEW OF THE 2008-2009 PROPOSED SCHOOL BUDGET
April 29th, 2008 5:00 p.m. Joint Meeting of BOE/Council Committees andRepresentatives.
May 5th, 2008 4:30 p.m. Joint Meeting of BOE/Council Committees andRepresentatives.
May 8th, 2008 2:15 p.m. Meeting of the "Ad Hoc" Committee.
May 12th, 2008 7:30 p.m. Borough Council Regular Meeting.
May 15th 2008 4:30p.m. Special Meeting of Borough Council
May 16th, 2008 5:30 p.m. Special Meeting of Borough Council
DETAILED EXPLANATION OF REASONS FOR REDUCTION TO LINE ITENIS IN 2008-2009 ANNUAL SCHOOL BUDGET
No reductions have been made.