Joseph F. Berenato
$1.1M in bonds OK’d
HAMMONTON—On January 24, town council held its regular monthly meeting via Zoom teleconferencing software.
At the top of the meeting, council entertained Resolution No. 020-2022, adopting a temporary capital budget. According to the language of the resolution, “the regulations of the Local Finance board (N.J.A.C. 5:30-4.3(b)) of the Division of Local Government Services, Department of Community Services requires that the municipality adopt a temporary capital budget if a bond ordinance is to be passed prior to the adoption of the Annual Capital Budget.”
Mayor Stephen DiDonato explained the purpose behind the bonds.
“This is for purchase of a fire truck, a security system at town hall and construction of a turf field. The total is $1,180,000; the capital fund is $59,000 down payment money and it’s $1,121,000 we’re going to borrow from the general fund,” DiDonato said.
According to the resolution, the project costs and appropriations from the General Capital Fund are as follows: Construction of a Turf Field: Total—$500,000, Capital Improvement Fund—$25,000, Debt Authorized—$475,000; Purchase of a Fire Truck: $580,000, $29,000, $551,000; Security System at Town Hall: $100,000, $5,000, $95,000. The total expenditure is $1,180,000 with a $59,000 down payment from the Capital Improvement Fund with a total debt authorization of $1,121,000.
The resolution also authorizes appropriations from the Utility Capital Fund for the drip irrigation include a total cost of $275,000 with $13,750 from the Capital Improvement Fund and debt authorization in the amount of $261,250.
Councilman Edward Wuillermin made a motion to approve the resolution, which Councilman Steven Furgione seconded.
The resolution passed unanimously.
Later in the meeting, council introduced two bond ordinances that were authorized by the resolution.
The first, Ordinance No. 002-2022 – Bond Ordinance General Capital, appropriated $1,180,000 and authorized the issuance of $1,121,000 in bonds or notes to finance the construction of the turf field, the purchase of the fire truck and the improvements to the security system at town hall.
“The average period of usefulness of said improvements or purposes within the limitations of said Local Bond Law, according to the reasonable life thereof computed from the date of said bonds authorized by this bond ordinance, is 11.86 years,” the ordinance states.
Councilman William Olivo made a motion to pass the introduction, which was seconded by Councilman Sam Rodio.
Furgione made a suggestion as to how to appropriate the money for the turf field.
“I was thinking, to make this clean and so everyone’s accountable, my vision would be, we run this how we run a construction project in that we’re responsible for $500,000; anything over the $1.5 [million] is paid in full by Mr. [Jeff] Umosella. My thinking would be, when he receives a bill for construction, we would pay a third of it up to that $500,000. Does that sound reasonable to everyone? This way, we see a bill come in, the bill’s for $50,000, the town pays a third, Mr. Umosella pays two-thirds until we gobble up—well, hope we don’t spend all $500,000, but it’s there if we need it,” Furgione said.
Both Olivo and Rodio were amenable to the suggestion, and amended their motion accordingly.
Furgione also inquired as to particulars for the fire truck being purchased.
“Do we already—that’s the quote?” Furgione said.
Town Business Administrator Frank Zuber replied.
“We got that through Sourcewell; we got a price on that, I believe, in December of last year. We put the ordinance together, and we actually got a discount of about $100,000 by putting the order in now,” Zuber said.
Furgione questioned further.
“So what’s the turnaround? A year to get this thing built and get back to us?” he said.
“Yes, maybe a little longer; maybe about 17 months,” Zuber said.
Speaking with The Gazette following the meeting, DiDonato described the proposed security system for town hall.
“That’s for locks, to change all the locks around the whole town hall to go with a key fob system for entrance, exit, all that ... It seems like it’s a swipe system,” DiDonato said.
DiDonato said that the proposed changes came at the suggestion of Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel.
“That’s for all exterior and interior doors,” DiDonato said.
The ordinance passed introduction unanimously.
The second was Ordinance No. 003-2022 – Bond Ordinance Utility Drip Irrigation, appropriating $275,000 and authorizing the issuance of $261,250 in bonds or notes for the installation of drip irrigation.
“The average period of usefulness of said improvement or purpose within the limitations of the Local Bond Law, according to the reasonable life thereof computed from the date of the said bonds authorized by this bond ordinance, is 20 years,” the ordinance states.
Furgione made a motion to pass the introduction, which Wuillermin seconded.
During discussion of the ordinance, Furgione explained the costs associated with the project, which are based on a quote from Lee Rain Inc. in Vineland, N.J.
“The way that we structured the specs, it was a per-acre price for the labor to install. That includes the design and the installation. Then, we gave a complete list of parts, and they priced everything up basically per part. We went back and said, ‘listen, we’re going to need some clarification here; on an 11-acre parcel, what are we looking at, dollars and cents?’”
Furgione said that the costs came to $14,720 per acre for labor and the design, and a total cost of $23,098 per acre for labor and material. Furgione said that the total for 11 acres is $254,087.02.
“I asked for a little bit of additional funds, for the simple fact that until they get out there, and run some pipe and do a flow test; I’m not sure if it’s 11 acres, if it’s 11.2, if it’s 11.5, if it’s 10.8. I don’t exactly know how this is going to lay out. The other thing is, the valves and the filters that are installed are expensive. This number includes two; I think we’re going to need two, but we could need three,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that the total of the bond—$275,000—is to “account for some of these unknowns.”
“We just don’t know until we lay this thing out. A certain amount of pipe equates to a certain amount of gallons per minute coming out of the pump that we just need to get out there. It’s not something you can calculate; you really need to go out there and do a flow test. That’s where the numbers are,” Furgione said.
The ordinance passed introduction unanimously.
Furgione then made a motion to award the contract.
“Mayor, I’ll make a motion to award Lee Rain the furnish and install of the drip irrigation for a sum not to exceed $275,000,” Furgione said.
Rodio seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.
In other business, while presenting the report from the Water and Sewer Committee, Furgione said that the state and federal governments are currently finalizing guidance regarding the removal of “all lead pipes within water services in the next 10 years.”
“It’s obviously a hot topic; we saw what happened previously a few years ago in Michigan, certainly, we don’t want that to happen here,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that the town has been working with Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates (ARH) for approximately 18 months to create an inventory of all service laterals within the town of Hammonton by age and type of pipe.
“Once we finish that, we’ll have a better handle. The best we can tell, we don’t have any lead lines in our distribution portion of our water. The reason being is, you would see it at the connections; we have not seen that. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but we’re working with ARH to double-check any old water lines on our end of things—on the service end—to make sure they don’t have lead or are lead pipe,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that the town is now asking residents to do the same thing.
“On the website—on townofhammonton.org—there’s a survey you can fill out, and it walks you through how to see if your home might have a lead service line coming into it. Remember, from the street to your house is your responsibility,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that certain subsets of town need not worry about lead.
“They stopped using lead pre-1986; if your house was built after 1986, you don’t have to worry. If you are on Valley, Grape, Packard, Pratt, Second—any road that we did construction on in the last 10 or 15 years, there was inspectors out there, contractors out there; they would have seen if you would have had a lead line go into your house, and you would have been notified. So, the chances of you living in that area and having a lead service line are minimal. Also, all of Lakeview Gardens—although the water came in in the very late ’70s, nothing in Lakeview Gardens would have been going from the service line to your house in lead,” Furgione said.
In addition to the survey, Furgione said that residents can call the town’s water department at (609) 567-4331.
“If you have questions, or you want someone from the department to come out—they can go into your basement or they can go into wherever your water’s coming to—and they will be able to tell you very quickly if it’s an issue or not ... You can call and leave a message. They’ll get back to you and schedule a time; they’ll be in and out if you want your home checked,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that the town of Hammonton follows New Jersey drinking water standards and has been “doing lead and copper sampling for years.”
“We do 60 samples a year plus some alternates. We always feel within the 90th percentile; in fact, they actually cut us back from 60 samples to 30, which started, I believe, last year. We’ve been actively monitoring it. We pick what we think would be the most likely candidates to have a lead line, and so far, so good that the samples have come back OK—kosher—we’re good,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that he anticipates the surveying to be finished by the end of the year.
“We think that the federal government will have some better guidelines as well as the state, and we can figure out what the next step would be with regards to getting a reimbursement for you to get those lead lines out—if they exist,” Furgione said.
Public Works Manager Robert Vettese asked Furgione if galvanized pipe would be included with lead lines, and Furgione said that galvanized lines from the street to the home would also have to be removed because the connections used were made from lead.
“So, even though your pipe was galvanized, if there was a lead connection they want it out. Now, what we found in the past, galvanized pipe deteriorates rather rapidly, and what happens is the inside of your pipe actually shrinks. With most residents we found had galvanized pipe in the past, they take them out and go to Schedule 40 or C PVC just because the pipe is deteriorating and it’s not giving you the pressure you should have. I think the galvanized pipe is to a minimum as well,” Furgione said.
Furgione said that the town’s website will have pictures to assist residents.
“You’ll be able to go wherever your water connection is—let’s say coming in your basement—and you’ll be able to look and know in 10 seconds what you have and don’t have. Again, you can call the water department, and we’re more than happy to come out there and help you assess it as well,” Furgione said.
The next meeting of town council is scheduled for February 28 at 7 p.m.