Councilwoman Accepts Paid RVSA Seat Despite Meeting Conflicts

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Published: February 10, 2016 @ 5:00 PM EDT

Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey has accepted the appointment of Roselle Park’s Commissioner for The Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA) for five years. The only issue is that she will only be able to attend 8 out of the RVSA’s 20 meetings and only one of their regular meetings scheduled this year. Each commissioner is paid $30 a meeting for a maximum of $600 and the councilwoman will not be an effective member since she will be absent for 60% of their total meetings and 90% of the RVSA regular meetings in 2016. Either that or she will be absent for part or all of 50% of Mayor & Council meetings in 2016 because the RVSA holds their regular meetings on the same night and time as the second monthly Mayor & Council Meeting. Their meetings are held in Rahway – a 20 minute drive not counting traffic or parking – from the Roselle Park Municipal Complex.

The RVSA is an autonomous agency that owns and operates a trunk sewer system and a wastewater treatment facility in Rahway. It is governed by a Board of Commissioners composed of one representative from each member municipality, which includes Roselle Park. Commissioners are expected to attend their Engineering Committee Meetings, Finance Committee Meetings, and general Regular Meetings. Financial Committee and Regular meetings are held the same evenings. Even though both committee meetings are important, no action is taken at either of them. The RVSA Regular Meetings are when commissioners decide and vote on things such as budgets, the payment of bills, and the hiring of contractors and professionals.

Councilwoman Storey, as a commissioner, will be responsible in deciding how the RVSA uses the fees that Roselle Park and the other municipalities pay to it. Last year, in 2015, Roselle Park taxpayers paid $550,226 to the authority.

The sewerage authority is a half decade appointment which was last held by resident Attilio ‘Sonny’ Venturo for at least a decade. He was last re-appointed in 2011 under resolution 46-11. This year, Councilwoman Storey first was appointed at the Municipal Reorganization Meeting on January 7, 2016. She was appointed again two weeks later with Resolution 40-16. Her appointment ends in February of 2021 which covers the duration of her current term as Council-At-Large and will have her being paid up to $3,000.

By way of comparison, the five-year attendance record of Sonny Venturo was reviewed against one using the meeting schedule of a councilmember for the same years if one was appointed. The first table below includes all meetings that were held for each year.

Year
All
Meetings
Sonny Venturo
Attendance Rate
Proposed Council
Attendance Rate
2011
18
17  (94%)
8  (44%)
2012
17
16  (94%)
5  (29%)
2013
21
18  (86%)
10  (48%)
2014
18
12  (67%)
9  (50%)
2015
17
12  (71%)
6  (35%)

As can be seen above, a councilmember would never be able to attend – at most – more than half of the meetings that were held. Over the half decade span, a member of the governing body would have missed an average 3 out of every 5 meetings.

The second table, listed below, provides a comparison of the important general meetings – where votes were cast and action was taken – for Mr. Venturo and a proposed member of Roselle Park’s council. In such an analogy, a council representative would have averaged an absentee record of 80%.

Year
General
Meetings
Sonny Venturo
Attendance Rate
Proposed Council
Attendance Rate
2011
12
11  (92%)
5  (42%)
2012
12
12  (100%)
0  (0%)
2013
14
11  (79%)
3  (21%)
2014
11
7  (64%)
2  (18%)
2015
13
10  (77%)
3  (23%)

Calls left for Councilwoman Storey to allow her to comment on this article were not returned.

A listing of meeting dates is available below. Bold red meeting dates signify a conflict with a municipal regular meeting or a municipal budget workshop.

DATE
DAY
TIME
MEETING
February 11, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
February 18, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
March 10, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
March 17, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
April 14, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
April 21, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
May 12, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
May 19, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
June 9, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
June 16, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
July 21, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
August 18, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
September 8, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
September 15, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
October 13, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
October 20, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
November 3, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
November 10, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
December 8, 2016
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
December 15, 2016
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
January 12, 2017
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
January 19, 2017
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting
February 9, 2017
Thursday
7:00 p.m.
RVSA Engineering Committee
February 16, 2017
Thursday
7:05 p.m.
RVSA Regular Meeting