Councilman John Bueckner once again clashed with the rest of the members of the Town Council at their Feb. 8 meeting when he abstained from voting on a contract for the police chief, claiming that he had asked for a legal opinion which he had not yet received. "I asked for a clarification on this contract," he said. "I don't know whether it is legal or not, but I have an opinion that it might not be." Although Mayor Dennis Elwell said the town's labor attorney had found no problem with the contract, Bueckner had sought a second opinion from the town's legal counsel. This issue revolves around Town Administrator Anthony Iacono, who negotiated both the chief's contract and the contracts for the rest of the Police Department. At one point during the negotiations for the other police officers, Iacono sought information from the police chief. Bueckner questioned the chief's contract because the police chief's salary hinges on what the other officers make. If the police chief had a say in the salary amount for the lower-ranking officers, he automatically influenced his own salary, which would have clearly been a conflict. Iacono, however, said the chief never discussed or made recommendations on the salaries of lower-ranking officers, and that the only discussions involved vacation schedules and other information Iacono needed to properly negotiate with the police officer's union. Despite Bueckner's concerns, the council passed three ordinances that approved contracts for wages in the police department. The council also approved an ordinance setting specific wages for various non-union Town Hall employees. Other matters In other business, the council introduced an ordinance to authorize improvement to various streets and provide funding to pay for those improvements. The town received $373,000 in grants from the state of New Jersey Transportation trust fund and will do work on Franklin Street, Elizabeth Court, and Tenth Street. The council also passed resolutions seeking bids for maintenance of heat and air conditioning units in Town Hall, the community center and the DPW facility. It also renewed the contract with Ronzel Insurance Agency to act as a consultant for professional Risk Management as required by its joint insurance fund. Ronzel will receive an increase in fees from the previous four percent of annual insurance assessments to six percent The town also renewed its agreement with Meadowlands Hospital to provide certain core health services as required under state law, renewed its lease agreement with the Board of Education for the use of the recreation center for pre-kindergarten classroom space, authorized the purchase of a street sweeper for the fee of $109,000, and voted to purchase a compactor body for $24,900. Committee reports Councilman Robert Kickey, chairman of the Channel 36 TV committee, asked the council for permission to move the television equipment from the basement of Town Hall to the Office of Emergency Management headquarters, saying that it would make broadcasts easier. Charles Schumacker, director of the town's Communications Department, will still be involved with the broadcasts. In a report concerning fire zones at the Plaza Center and other shopping areas, Councilman John Reilly said the police department has been active, issuing 123 motor vehicle summons so far in the month of February. "People are mad at us, but they have to abide by the law," Reilly said. Citizens' comments Art Glaeser, a resident of the northend, complained about sidewalks not being cleared of snow, noting that recent legal decisions in the state made towns as responsible as home owners if someone should get hurt. "As a taxpayer, I don't want to have to pay extra legal fees," he said. Mayor Elwell said the town is aware of the situation and has issued notices based on complaints made. Glaeser also questions claims by the town administrator at last month's meeting that the fire inspector does not need to be licensed. Iacono said the kind of inspections being done by the inspector do not require licensing under state regulations, but that the fire inspector is - on his own initiative -taking the eight-week course. Barbara Napierski, a resident of Humboldt Street, asked again this month about the town's reports over contamination on the former Department of Public Works property on Golden Avenue. She also complained that Department of Environmental Protection agency official had a difficult time getting a hold of the town administrator in seeking answers about the property. Iacono said he wanted the town engineer to answer the questions, then complained that some residents had given the DEP official his cellular phone number - even though the phone was issued to him by the town for town business. Napierski and other residents are seeking to obtain copies of test reports to determine levels of contamination found at the former DPW property and if they are similar to contaminants found at the site of the former Keystone Metal Finishers plant on Humboldt Street. "We can't get those reports until someone from town turns them into the DEP," Napierski said. In a confusing exchange with the residents, Iacono assured them that the town is doing everything properly, and that reports have been issued to the DEP. He said it was the DEP's own bureaucracy that made it seem as if the town had not acted properly. Frank MacCormack, former candidate for mayor, told the council that the committee dealing with these issues needed to have more people on it, particularly residents, so that information could be more readily available. Councilman Mike Grecco, head of the committee, said the committee did not need residents because it would be meeting directly with the residents. Meanwhile, Kim Jones, who had been seeking a report on possible cancer clusters in the Keystone contaminated area, was told no clusters seem to exist. "If a registered cancer cluster existed, we would have been told about it," Iacono said. Dawn McAdams, another resident of the Keystone area, asked about a report that showed a possible new site of contamination not apparently connected with areas previously known, one showing a dangerous chemical 200 times over acceptable levels. The property is on Raydol Avenue between the former DPW property and the Keystone contamination site. "If there is a problem, where does it come from?" she asked. Mayor Elwell told her not to create hysteria and that the town was well aware of the situation. "When we find out the information, so will you," he said, fending off questions about when and where the original discovery of spreading contamination was made. "We've already admitted that information was withheld from the public back in 1996-97," he said. "We have to move on from here." Peter Link, another resident of the area, told the council that he had located health reports the council said seemed to be missing or unavailable. "They were in your attorney's office," he said, pressing the council to reconsider health tests on residents in the affected area. He cited a case in Hoboken where residents had discovered their condominium building had mercury in it and were tested to see if the contamination had affected them. Link said Secaucus residents around the Keystone site should be affected. Elwell, however, argued that the Hoboken mercury situation was different. "There it was proven a health hazard existed," Elwell said. "In this case, the state said there is no health risk."