Montclair Gets Upgraded to AAA Rating From Standard and Poor’s (UPDATED)

BY  |  Friday, Jul 22, 2016 10:49am  |  COMMENTS (9)

Montclair Gets Upgraded to AAA Rating From Standard and Poor's

Updated with official announcement from the township below.

Montclair’s fiscal health continues to improve. Last night, Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson said Montclair had just been given a AAA rating — the highest possible ranking — from Standard and Poor’s, mentioning the news at a launch party for the Montclair Jazz Festival.

The news ranks Montclair among an elite group of towns like Princeton who have attained the highest rating.

Back in 2014, Montclair had gone up from AA- to AA+.

“This is fantastic news and is something Mayor Jackson and I have strived for these last four years,” says Deputy Mayor Bill Hurlock. “It will save our Town a tremendous amount of money on our debt service going forward.”

S&P Global Rating Services announced today that it raised its long-term and underlying ratings on Montclair Township’s existing general obligation (GO) debt to “AAA” – the highest issuer credit rating the financial services company assigns. The rating represents an upgrade from the AA+ the company issued the Township in 2014.
S&P’s report cites Montclair’s ability to “consistently achieve stable financial performance supporting its very strong liquidity and strong budgetary performance and flexibility.”

The company also assigned a “AAA” long-term rating and underlying rating on the Township’s existing GO debt and stated that the outlook on all of the Township’s ratings is stable.

“This new rating increase places Montclair in the ranks of the top communities nationwide for credit worthiness and fiscal management,” said Mayor Robert Jackson. “It is an affirmation of the hard work and responsible management of taxpayers’ finances through efficient and effective fiscal policies set in place from the very beginning of this Council’s tenure. “I am truly grateful to S&P for this unprecedented vote of confidence in the Township of Montclair. My Council colleagues, Manager Stafford, CFO Rao, and Township staff deserve the credit; I’m proud of them.”

Only 3% of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities have the “AAA” rating. The current increase marks the third upgrade of the Township’s rating since 2012.

According to the report, the “AAA” GO rating reflects S&P’s assessment of the following credit factors, specifically the Township’s:

·Very strong economy, with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan statistical area (MSA);

·Strong management, with “good” financial policies and practices under S&P’s financial management assessment (FMA) methodology;

·Strong budgetary performance, with an operating surplus in the general fund in fiscal 2015;

·Strong budgetary flexibility, with an available fund balance in fiscal 2015 at 11.0% of operating expenditures;

·Very strong liquidity, with total government available cash at 28.2% of general fund expenditures and 2.7x governmental debt service, as well as access to external liquidity S&P considers strong;

· Strong debt and contingent liability position, with debt service carrying charges at 10.5% of expenditures, net direct debt at 88.5% of general fund revenue, and low overall net debt at less than 3% of market value and rapid amortization, with 78.4% of debt scheduled to be retired in 10 years; and

· Strong institutional framework score.

“The AAA rating is the testament to policies put in place by the governing body to place the township on a solid financial footing for now — and for the long term,” said acting Township Manager Timothy Stafford. “It reaffirms the efficacy of Council’s continued focus on making smart financial decisions which help strengthen the local economy, making the community a desirable place to live, work and do business.”

The full S&P Global Rating Services report is available for download here

Montclair Mounties Wash Your Car This Saturday

Friday, Jul 22, 2016 10:37am  |  COMMENTS (0)

image (2)

Get your car looking sharp and support Montclair High School football! This Saturday, July 23, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., MHS Freshmen Annex Circle, Park Street, $10.

Montclair Master Plan Historic Preservation Element to Undergo Update

BY  |  Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 2:19pm  |  COMMENTS (4)

Montclair Master Plan Historic Preservation Element to Undergo UpdateMontclair’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and Planning Board are preparing to update the 1993 Historic Preservation Element of the Township Master Plan. The update will help guide future township historic preservation efforts and strategies. The project will be funded by a 2015 Certified Local Government Grant-in-Aid from the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office.

The Historic Preservation Element will be discussed at length at the Commission’s regular meeting on July 28 and at the regularly-scheduled Planning Board meeting on October 17. Both meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in Municipal Council Chambers, 205 Claremont Avenue, Montclair. Community attendance is encouraged to learn about this preservation effort and to contribute comments and ideas.

Historic preservation is achieved by listing specific homes, districts or streetscapes as local landmarks. The Township’s Historic Preservation Ordinance helps protect and preserve historic properties and districts through a local landmark process. When a property is designated as a local landmark it is protected by the ordinance to ensure it continues to contribute to Montclair’s historic fabric. Continue Reading

Citizen’s Police Academy in Montclair Teaches Residents About Police Work

BY  |  Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 12:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 6.19.02 AMLast month, Acting Chief of Police Todd Conforti and members of the Montclair Police Department’s Community Service Unit (CSU) presented the Citizen’s Police Academy Class with their certificates of completion.

The Citizen’s Police Academy is a free 10-week program for residents who want to learn more about the police department and its role in the community. Classes are led by certified law enforcement officers from the Montclair Police Department, as well as officers from other agencies.

While the program offers no police certification, it provides citizens with a better understanding of modern police practices. Participants gain an insight to the functions and responsibilities of police departments as well as criminal law and legal procedure.

Resident Helen Conley took the class because with a doctorate in racial conflict and a background in social issues, she wanted to get a better understanding of the workings in the police department. She was highly impressed with the program and praised officers Tyrone Williams and Travis Davis for going out of their way to make the program “a knock out.” Continue Reading

Residents Raise Concerns About Race & Law Enforcement at Montclair Police Forum

BY  |  Tuesday, Jul 19, 2016 8:30am  |  COMMENTS (18)

Montclair residents packed the Montclair Salvation Army church last night to attend Montclair Police Department’s July 18 forum to discuss law enforcement issues in light of the shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana and attacks on the police in Dallas and Baton Rouge.   The meeting, which was supposed to last an hour and half, ran an hour over to accommodate the many concerns of Montclair residents.  Though nothing comparable to the events in towns like Ferguson, Missouri or Falcon Heights, Minnesota have occurred in Montclair, new Chief of Police Todd Conforti said he wanted to make himself available and transparent to foster good relationships with the community.   Joining him were several members of the police force, including Deputy Chiefs Tracy Frazzano and Wilhelm Young, as well as Essex County Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray.

Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti addresses a question at the police forum at the Salvation Army church while Essex County Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray listens.

Montclair Police Chief Todd Conforti addresses a question at the police forum at the Salvation Army church while Essex County Acting Prosecutor Carolyn Murray listens.

Attorney Jim Johnson, who has collaborated with the Brennan Center for Social Justice, moderated the forum and underscored its importance by saying that the police wanted to hear people’s concerns, and he called on everyone to take a moment to breathe deeply and be silent before they began, which they did.

Many black residents in attendance were fearful for their children, and they asked what they should tell their children of driving age on how to react to a traffic stop.  Chief Conforti said that that simplest thing a motorist should do when stopped by a police officer is to comply with an officer’s requests and demands and not provoke a confrontation.  The safest course of action, he said, was to wait patiently and allow the officer to go through the standard procedure, which involves handing over one’s license, registration, and insurance card when asked and to wait patiently for the officer to explain the reason for the stop.  Sergeant Tyrone Williams said that the best way to deal with policemen who act unprofessionally was to “comply and complain later” – comply with the officer, then file a complaint with the police department or the county prosecutor’s office. Continue Reading

Impromptu Gathering at Nishuane Park Starts New Conversation on Race in Montclair

BY  |  Monday, Jul 18, 2016 3:15pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

king memorial

This month, following recent tragic events — in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas — where citizens and police officers have lost their lives, Montclair held a well attended multi-faith Vigil for Solidarity and discussion on Monday, July 11. Tonight (Monday, July 18), Montclair Police asks the community to come together and voice concerns and engage in talk about the relationship between police and the community.

Montclair’s Schela Hall asked people to join her at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Nishuane Park, earlier this month, on Saturday, July 9, inviting anyone who was interested to hear her speak about what it is like to be a black mother in our society and how we as a community can make a difference. Marlaina Powell, who attended the gathering, shares her feelings before attending the event as well as her impressions of what transpired that night. A diverse group of 10 attended the first meeting, with everyone voicing strong opinions in a space that Powell says felt safe. What motivated everyone to attend, Powell says, is the fact that “we live in this awesome place but we are at odds with each other. Many things here don’t work.” Powell’s account is below:

Montclair, NJ is considered by many to be one of the most culturally diverse towns on the planet. Montclair is the place that any good Liberal would want to live: Where black and white live side by side, attend great schools, eat at good restaurants, commute into the city for work, and live happily ever after. No racism here, right? Wrong.

After a year or so of living in Montclair you will find that in this epicenter of diversity, African-Americans confess to fighting age-old biases and prejudices based on the color of their skin. African-American parents often find themselves negotiating relationships with their neighbors, teachers, principals, and white parents who say they moved here for the diversity as well. Black parents often find themselves raising their children in an environment that is supposed to be inclusive, but is often loaded with racial bias. Please don’t get me wrong. This is an awesome place to live but somehow we are missing the mark. Everyone says so behind closed doors, but saying it out in the open, not so much. Continue Reading

Get Tickets Now For Eighth Annual Membership Luncheon — Montclair NAACP

BY  |  Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Branch NAACPThe Montclair Branch NAACP will host its 8th Annual Membership Luncheon on Saturday, July 23 at 2 pm, at the Montclair Salvation Army Citadel (13 Trinity Place). The Montclair Chapter is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chapter.

The spirit behind this event is not only in the interest of membership, but also to pay tribute to the past, present, and future leaders who have upheld the legacy of this great institution over the years; and to demonstrate our immense sense of respect, pride, and gratitude for their acts of courage, commitment, and strong resolve. Continue Reading

Montclair Police Invites Community to Forum on Monday, July 18

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 1:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair Police DeaprtmentIn light of recent national events — in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas — The Montclair Police Department invites the community to come together and voice concerns and engage in talk about the relationship between police and the community. This forum is being organized in cooperation with The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Montclair NAACP-Criminal Justice Committee. Continue Reading

Montclair Police Dept. Sends Four of Its Own to Honor Slain Dallas Law Enforcement Officers

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 12:45pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

dallas police

The Montclair Police Department sent four of its Honor Guard officers to Dallas, Texas to represent the Department in paying respects at funeral services held yesterday and today for the five Dallas law enforcement officers slain by sniper fire July 7.

The Montclair officers who represented Montclair in Dallas are:
Continue Reading

Montclair Council Begins New Term Talking Trash

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Mayor Robert Jackson and the Montclair Township Council, fresh off their re-inauguration (minus Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville, who was away) turned their attention to new public garbage receptacles at their July 12 conference meeting.

The Montclair Township Council, minus Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville

The Montclair Township Council, minus Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville

Joe Nardello of the waste-removal firm Bigbelly,  who presented to the council on June 14 an explanation of his firm’s employment of large public trashcans with smart technology to reduce collection trips by monitoring disposal with pinpoint accuracy, proposed installing 28 strategically positioned receptacles in Montclair’s central business district, specifically in and around Bloomfield Avenue, Church Street, and South Park Street.  The receptacles would replace 28 regular trashcans, which are emptied seven days a week and two hours per day and hold just under 3,000 gallons between them.  (There are 70 trashcans overall in the designated area.)  Nardello explained that the total capacity of the 28 Bigbelly bins would be increased to 4,000 gallons.

“That’s enough stations to get successful numbers and see your data and see if this works,” Nardello said.

Craig Brandon, Montclair’s Supervisor of Solid Waste Services, said he requested 28 trashcans to get a good idea to see how it would work.  With these 28 cans, he said, the town wouldn’t have to go out seven days week to pick up because the small holes in the cans deter illegal dumping.  Councilor-at-Large Robert Russo thought it would be a good idea to place Bigbelly cans all over the area to see if there are major improvements.  Nardello explained that the township would be locked in for a five-year period with these 28 cans, but if the numbers showed a drop in collections and produced greater efficiency, the township could add more cans to Montclair Center.  Councilor Russo was sold on the idea, suggesting that Montclair should go forward; he was especially sold on the possibility of reduced trips resulting in a savings of fuel used by garbage trucks.  Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford said that Department of Community Services employees who would not be needed any longer for collections would be reassigned; the real savings would come not from employee attrition but a reduction of overtime for collection.

The council also considered getting local eateries involved.  Municipal law requires eateries where food is usually carried out to have trashcans outside their premises, but Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager noticed that some of the Bigbelly cans would be placed near such eateries where there are no cans.  It was suggested , if businesses that sell food wanted to participate in the service Bigbelly, they could pay for their share of the service,  otherwise, their responsibilities to provide their own cans and keep the clean would be strictly enforced.  Deputy Mayor/First Ward Councilor William Hurlock liked that idea, and Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller opined that eateries would gladly pay for Bigbelly to avoid the trouble of keeping their own trashcans clean and free of illegal dumping, but Township Attorney Ira Karasick believed that a voluntary partnership with local eateries would work, because he said, “it’s an offer they can’t refuse.”

A request for proposal, though, would still have to go out for municipal trashcan collection.  Nardello told Mayor Jackson that he would get the numbers for a possible 40 extra cans and the savings over the current operation involved.

While going over the agenda for the July 26 meeting, Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon asked about an ordinance that would ban trucks on Walnut Street between Grove Street and Walnut Crescent and he didn’t understand the reason for it.  Township Engineer Kim Craft said it was due to the Hackensack UMC/Mountainside redevelopment plan causing concern from “a particular resident” over the scope of the redevelopment and the fear that trucks would begin to use Grove Street to access the site via Walnut Street.  She said that the band would not affect the abilities of delivery truck drivers to make deliveries to the stores in the Grove/Walnut area. Councilor McMahon didn’t think it was necessary to ban trucks on that part of Walnut Street based on something that might happen, and he was skeptical; Mayor Jackson correctly guessed that Planning Board member Carmel Loughman was the “particular resident” in question.  Craft said that enforcement would largely be based on residents’ complaints, which she thought would involve construction vehicles.  “A Pepsi delivery truck is not the thing you’re going to be calling about,” she said.

The northeast corner of North Willow Street and Glenridge Avenue, where some residents are concerned that the "No Parking Here To Corner sign (center) could block motor-traffic visibility. Image courtesy of Google.

The northeast corner of North Willow Street and Glenridge Avenue, where some residents are concerned that the “No Parking Here To Corner sign (center) could block motor-traffic visibility. Image courtesy of Google.

One particular resident who had a grievance was North Willow Street resident Dana Morgan, who had a concern about the “No Parking Here to Corner” sign on the eastern side of that street just off its northeast corner with Glenridge Avenue.  He wanted it removed farther back, because the sign, despite its small size, blocks the view of traffic coming the other way and this provides a safety hazard as motorists go around the bend.  Craft said she met with Morgan before about the sign, and she said she didn’t see the safety need to eliminate the parking space(s) that moving the sign would involve.  She said that North Willow Street was wide enough at the bend for two-way traffic and that motorists should be be slow and cautious around it simply because there is a bend there. She said there was no record of incidents caused by the sign.  There is a petition to move the sign, and Craft it should be taken up by the Traffic, Parking and Advisory Committee (TPAC).  Councilor Spiller said that would be a good process for it to go through, and he admitted, as a North Willow Street resident himself, that the bend was tricky to navigate by car.

A closeup of the bend at North Willow Street off Glenridge Avenue. Image courtesy of Google.

A closeup of the bend at North Willow Street off Glenridge Avenue. Image courtesy of Google.

The council also unanimously passed a first-reading ordinance adopting the Hackensack UMC/Mountainside redevelopment plan, but Township Clerk Linda Wanat cautioned that the notice for the second-reading hearing might not be in the July 14 issue of the Montclair Times in time for the public to learn of it before the July 26 regular meeting, when it would theoretically be brought up; the task of forwarding adequate notice to the press had been relayed to her deputy, Juliette Lee.  Wanat said the notice could still be published in the Star-Ledger in time for July 26, and it may yet make the next Montclair Times issue; otherwise, it would be held until the council’s meeting on August 9. The council still passed it so a second reading and public hearing could still be scheduled for either future meeting.




Featured Comment

How many years have I heard these tales of downplaying the re-appraisal game? Most homeowners will see a bump in their property taxes. Start budgeting now. "Winter is coming."

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