Mahwah April 22, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • Page 3 Council denies request to fund inspector’s post by Frank J. McMahon The Mahwah Council has denied Health Officer Angela Musella’s request to restore the funding for a part-time inspector’s position. Musella gave a presentation to the council at its last public meeting during which she explained the work that both the board of health and the health inspectors perform for township residents. While the council praised the board of health’s work, the governing body referred to the state cap on the township’s tax levy and the open positions in other departments when explaining that additional funding for a part-time inspector could not be added to the board of health’s budget. Musella told the council the state formula for determining the number of inspectors needed in Mahwah indicates that 2.5 inspectors are needed on staff, including two full time inspectors and one for 10 hours a week to adequately meet the municipality’s needs. She explained that the inspectors visit and inspect the 145 food handling or processing establishments in the township. She explained that many of them require visits twice a year in order to educate the food handlers so they remain compliant with the state requirements which state that “each food establishment should be inspected as often as necessary.” “It is critical that we spend time educating the food handlers,” Musella said, “and if we spend less time with them food safety will be seriously compromised.” Musella said she anticipated the need for 264 inspections in 2009 with a 25 percent re-inspection rate increasing the anticipated inspections to 330 in addition to the inspections of pools, spas and lakes, child care centers and youth camps, pet stores, and tanning salons, adding 53 more facilities. That could add up to a potential 429 inspections, not counting the special events that will occur in the township, Musella said. “The board wants to work cooperatively with you,” Musella told the council, “but the board of health respectfully requests that you rescind the elimination of the part-time inspector so we can meet the state’s required standards.” Council President John DaPuzzo told Musella, however, that every department is feeling the effects of the state’s four percent cap and the township is currently within $1,000 of that limit. He also said there are positions that are not being filled in the police department, the planning and zoning department, and administration, as well as the board of health, and the council even considered transferring the township’s board of health responsibilities to the county. “We prefer it in the township because of the good job you are doing,” DaPuzzo said, “but I don’t see how we can add $11,000 to the budget when there are five police officers not being replaced as the result of attrition.” He added, “If the health department can’t do the job for Mahwah, we may have no alternative but to turn it over to the county.” In response to questions by DaPuzzo and Council- man John Roth, Musella acknowledged that the number of inspectors needed in Mahwah according to the state was not mandatory, but were guidelines provided to assist the board of health in its staffing. DaPuzzo told Musella the board of health is politically independent and self-governing and, while the township provides a certain amount of money for its operation, it is up to them to determine what to do with that money. The township’s budget that was recently introduced provides $238,000 for the operation of the board of health, up from $225,200 in 2008. But, according to Mahwah Township Administrator Brian Campion, that increase is primarily for contracted salary increases. The budget does not include the excess money that was in the 2008 budget for the flu shots and a donation to the West Bergen Mental Healthcare Foundation, which was used last year to retain the part-time inspector’s position. After the meeting, Musella advised that the board of health would be meeting soon to discuss other alternatives to retain the part-time inspector. On April 4, a 30-year-old Cuddebackville, New York woman was arrested on Route 17 South for offering false information to a police officer after the officer stopped the woman for driving carelessly on the highway. The officer interviewed the woman and determined that she was giving him a false name. After obtaining her real name, the officer located outstanding warrants and arrested her. She was charged with the false information statute and paid the bail on the outstanding warrants. She was has a pending court appearance required in Mahwah. A 20-year-old Tuckahoe, New York man was arrested April 7 on Route 287 South for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia after the officer stopped Township Police Department Report the man for speeding. The officer smelled burned marijuana inside the car and located the drug and paraphernalia after a search. The man was charged and released with a future court appearance required. Also on April 7, a 22-year-old Fort Benning, Georgia man was arrested on Stag Hill Road for four separate weapons possession charges including possession of a handgun and a sawed off shotgun after officers were called to investigate a motor vehicle accident. The man had been driving off road and rolled his vehicle over. The weapons were visible to the investigating officer and resulted in the man’s ar rest. He was charged and released with a cou r t (continued on page 6)