Prior to formal business at the City Council Wednesday, Jan. 18, Councilman Andy Simpson asked for a moment of silence for his longtime friend Lou Monacello, an island resident since 1974 and an active member of the community who died Jan. 15.
As is customary, council approved a temporary budget to cover expenses until a final city budget is approved for 2017, which should be in February. Chief Financial Officer Roxanne Tosto approved temporary budget appropriations of $7,674,640.
Council also approved contracts for city services, which included Fred Scerni for municipal attorney, William Gasbarro for conflict attorney, William Reynolds for municipal prosecutor, Brian Rumpf for conflict prosecutor, and Steiner Law Office P.C. for public defender.
Appointments for a number of committees were announced, among them the Planning Board, Cultural Arts Commission, Municipal Alliance, Clean Communities, Recreation Commission, Golf Course Committee, and Economic Development Tourism and Special Events Advisory Commission. The names of all committee members will be posted on the city's website at bb-nj.org/committees.
City Council introduced the first new ordinance of the year. Ordinance 1 would amend the city code pertaining to vehicles and traffic.
The three-part ordinance would make formal the switch already made from a yield sign to a stop sign at Revere and Brigantine boulevards; approve the addition of a four-way stop sign at Lafayette Boulevard and Caverly Drive; and eliminate the no-parking signs at 14th Street South from Ocean Avenue to the bulkhead.
The ordinance was unanimously approved and is expected to be finalized at council's Feb. 1 meeting.
Fire Chief Tige Platt said members of the fire department will be starting a monthly series Jan. 27 at the Brigantine Community Center. From 10-10:30 a.m. that Friday and the fourth Friday of every month, the fire department will be offering free blood-pressure screenings and handing out information about fire safety and ways of assisting first responders in emergency situations.
“It will be the start of a routine in which our emergency medical technicians will be handing out information and educating the public about such things as our Knox Box program, fire prevention and different safety issues, and doing free blood-pressure screenings,” Platt said.
“It's an opportunity for those who may be borderline high, or have a history of high blood pressure, to keep a regular check on it rather than relying on visits to the doctor.”
If a screening detects blood pressure well beyond the normal range, the fire department can assist in addressing it, he said.
The half-hour monthly sessions will include information on the File of Life initiated by late Fire Chief Jim Holl to provide crucial information to first responders on a person's medications, allergies and contact info on a refrigerator magnet.
Firefighter-EMTs Tim Daley and Zach Laielli will provide details on cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They have been working with teachers in the Brigantine School System to get them certified in CPR, Platt added.
Anne Phillips of the Brigantine Taxpayers Association brought up three issues at the meeting.
She asked what criteria was used in determining Brigantine's elevated bond-rating status by Standard & Poor's.
City Manager Ed Stinson said S&P uses specific guidelines such as a municipality's management, debt and financial history to determine ratings, which are spelled out on its website, standardandpoors.com.
Phillips also questioned the use of public funds for private functions as it relates to some of Brigantine's youth sports programs.
Mayor Philip Guenther said the programs are run by nonprofit organizations that operate on a reimbursement system.
“The amount of money that's being spent is on a system where requisitions are submitted and money is reimbursed when receipts are received,” he said. “If there is a way to improve the process we would certainly be willing to look into it further.”
Phillips asked if the public could see the contract negotiations in collective bargaining agreements before council votes to approve them.
“We cannot create a situation where we debate with a bargaining unit (a union) with city council in public about an agreement that has not yet been ratified," the mayor responded. "This is a totally different process than voting on an ordinance.”
Council's next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1 at City Hall.