Page 8 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • May 27, 2009 Franklin Lakes Council hears concerns from residents and employees by Frank J. McMahon Several residents and employees attended the Franklin Lakes Council meeting last week to voice their concerns about issues ranging from the 2009 budget to negative political flyers. Frank Bivona, a Republican candidate for council, asked questions about the budget that was to be adopted that night, the status of the borough’s Council on Affordable Housing plan, and the borough’s failure to request Green Acres grant money to pay for the purchase of the Haledon Reservoir. A construction department plumbing inspector questioned the council about the reduction of his hours, and a resident complained about the stuffing of mailboxes with negative political flyers without the consent of the residents. Bivona asked about the borough’s surplus, which he said has been reduced from $4.6 million in 2006 to a projected $1.2 million in 2009. He was told by Steve Marcus, chairman of the council’s Administration Committee, that the policy of spending down the surplus went on before the current council took office and no one complained because a decision was made then to keep taxes down as much as possible. He explained that, based on “dramatically less revenue” now, and the borough auditor’s recommendation, the use of the surplus has been reduced this year by $500,000, and the council intends to do the same next year. Bivona also questioned the increase in legal fees in the budget from $88,000 to $248,000 and was told there have been more tax appeals and litigation. Borough Administrator Gregory Hart advised that some legal fees for the former borough attorney were paid out of a different account than the one used this year and, when combined, the legal expenses are comparable. Councilman Brian Trava also pointed out that it has been necessary to repeat some legal services that were not adequate and the new borough attorney is revisiting those issues. Concerning the borough’s COAH plan, Bivona was told that the borough was informed that day that its plan had been deemed complete by COAH and will now go through the 45-day public comment period. The candidate also raised a question about the state’s Green Acres funding of the Haledon Reservoir purchase. He noted that there is still $1.7 million to be received from Green Acres, but he has been informed that the borough failed to formally request the $400,000 funding it would have received for 2008 and so it was distributed to other towns. Hart acknowledged that he misunderstood the state’s requirement to formally file an application for the money that was awarded to the borough each and every year, because he had an understanding with Green Acres Administrator John Flynn that no request was necessary. “I now understand that is not correct,” Hart said. “I spoke to Mr. Flynn (at the time) who said the borough would be considered for funding in the 2008 funding cycle, which led me to believe that no future request was needed.” He emphasized, however, that the borough remains eligible for the full $1.1 million that Green Acres has yet to appropriate to the borough. The borough is due to receive $600,000 for the reservoir in the near future. Resident Ira Belsky chided the council for what he described as “glibness” about the failure to request the Green Acres money. “Where is the outrage?” he asked. “Shouldn’t there be some accountability on the part of the council and the administrator?” Later in the meeting, Belsky and Mayor Maura DeNicola had a heated exchange about recent political flyers distributed in the borough which he described as an “absolute disgrace.” The police were called into the council chambers. Paul Albanese, the borough’s plumbing inspector, complained about his hours being cut while other inspectors’ hours were not reduced as much as his. He was told that he is not a member of the Franklin Lakes Borough Employees Association like the other inspectors, whose hours are being negotiated with the association. FLBEA President John Keene claimed that Albanese is a member of his association and DeNicola said the borough’s agreement with FLBEA will have to be clarified in regard to Albanese’s membership. Albanese also asked about the profit the borough makes from construction fees. He said that profit should have been put escrow for the building department and asked, “Why are you cutting salaries when there is money there to pay them?” He also claimed the construction fees should be (continued on page 15) Back Yard Pool Program ® Ridgewood YMCA Ages 3-Adults • Co-Ed June 22-August 21 ������������� �������������������� ����������������������� ����������������������� ��������������� • • • • • June 22-July 3 July 6-17 July 20-31 August 3-14 August 17-21* � � ����������������������� ��������������� Paul Banach Construction, LLC Home Remodeling Waldwick • 201-689-0765 • Kitchen & Bathroom Renovations • Finish Carpentry Crown Moldings, Cabinetry, Walk-In-Closets, etc... Windows • Doors • Garage Doors Take advantage of the Energy Tax Credit in 2009 Speak to your tax advisor to ascertain if you qualify, as these credits will make a project more economical for you! 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