Treating all sports equally in Byram Township will begin with line painting.
At the township council’s Nov. 2 meeting, Councilman Raymond Bonker said he wants to extend line painting services to all sports in the 2021 budget. He suggested all sports leagues perform the initial field setup. Then, Department of Public Works will then retrace the existing lines during each sport season, he said.
Councilman Harvey Roseff and Mayor Alexander Rubenstein said they needed to understand how much this will cost and how it will affect the budget. Roseff said it could be a difficult budget year, depending on state support.
Township Manager Joseph Sabatini said that, as part of the budget process, he will evaluate the initial capital investment, operating costs, and salary expenses to maintain the lines for all fields. He will also take into consideration no initial line setup for all sports running from April through November. A paint mixer would cost $10,000, Sabatini said, and long-lasting paint might cost $5,000.
Roseff suggested using the Open Space Fund, after all priorities are figured out for next year’s budget. Rubenstein said they might be able to use the fund for supplies and equipment, but not for internal payroll expenses.
Bonker said he realized total sports equality could not be fixed in one year, but line painting would be a first step. Councilwoman Cris Franco agreed that all sports should be treated equally, and that line painting would be a good start for next year.
In other business
● Technology upgrade: The council unanimously agreed to spend up to $25,000 on technology upgrades, which will include a server for the administrative offices, software migration, and work stations.
● Amended wages: The council introduced an ordinance amending the administrative and hourly position salary wages for 2018-21. A public hearing on the ordinance will be held Nov. 16.
● Pension increases: Sabatini said there will be a significant increase in payments in 2021. The Public Employee Retirement System increased 5.6 percent, or $10,000; and the Police and Fire Retirement System increased almost 13 percent, or $71,000. Sabatini said the increases must be included within the two percent tax cap, and that he does not believe the state gives a pension exemption for the cap.
● New municipal building: Sabatini said the final set of design plans for the new municipal building should be available by the next meeting on Nov. 16.
● 2021 budget: Sabatini will give a presentation on the draft budget either at the Nov. 16 meeting or the first meeting in December.
● Coronavirus safety: Sabatini said Gov. Phil Murphy mandated uniform health and safety standards to protect all workers from coronavirus. He said the township is already following the executive order, and will implement a daily health screening before employees start work and will acquire additional hand sanitation stations for the public.
● Wireless cell coverage: Rubenstein reported Verizon is in the process of setting up an escrow account in order to start the application process.
● Electronic agendas and video meetings: In the future, the council agreed to ultimately move away from paper agendas to electronic agendas and provide video meetings to the public. Roseff recommended the documents be keyword-searchable, with links to each supporting section using Adobe Acrobat, and not just a pdf. Rubenstein said they will talk early next year about an agenda management system, and Chromebooks for councilmembers.
● Drive-up tree lighting and Santa Claus: Councilman Jack Gallagher said there will be a drive-up tree lighting on Dec. 6. Santa Claus will visit the town on Dec. 19 and 20.
● Outside cats: Residents Nicole Cunha and Corinne Price spoke about the problem of outside cats reproducing in the Andover section of Byram. Sabatini will have Animal Control investigate and coordinate with the Byram Animal Rescue Kindness Squad (BARKS).