Should residents store guns with police?
Also at council meeting: Legal experts hired to make tax-sharing case
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter staff writer
Jan 13, 2013 | 2126 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GIVING – Councilman Gary Jeffas spoke about the generosity of the municipality and its local businesses in helping out nearby shelters and community centers like the Franciscan Community Development Center in Fairview. A staff member at the Fairview center told Jeffas the Secaucus contributions of bread and other materials helped toward their operations and work of feeding people in need.
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During the public comments segment of Tuesday night’s Secaucus Town Council meeting, resident Don Evanson asked if the town could pass an ordinance to provide an armory at the Police Department where local gun owners would be required to store their rifles when not in use.

His request comes after last month’s massacre at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school that resulted in the death of 20 schoolchildren and six adults.

“Secaucus has passed a variety of local ordinances…they have forbidden Styrofoam,” he said. “They have restricted parking for non-residents…What if Secaucus passed an ordinance requiring that all rifles and multi-round weapons be taken to the police department armory where they would be stored?”

He said that when an owner needs a rifle for sport or range firing, he or she can check out their gun from the armory by showing their license and certificate of ownership.

“The gun owners would then retain ownership of their rifle,” said Evanson. “The stated usage of the gun would be recorded at the event and time they were taken out.”

No member of the council responded during the meeting.

Tax sharing discussed

The matter that did elicit some discussion Tuesday night was the Meadowlands tax sharing pool, a program in which Meadowlands-area towns either give or get money based on how much development they are allowed to have within their borders.

Secaucus is the highest contributor to the tax pool. The town has paid more than $75 million since 1970, when the state initiated the program to compensate towns that lost tax revenue when they were prohibited from developing lands considered environmentally sensitive.

Mayor Michael Gonnelli has argued that Secaucus is paying too much.

Tuesday night, the council voted to hire Connecticut law firm Robinson and Cole to produce a more in-depth report of the region’s land usage. The town will pay $20,000 out of $100,000 toward the company’s fee, which is being split between municipalities that pay into tax sharing.
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“Once we have this report in hand we are sure we will be able to persuade legislators to change the formula.” – Michael Gonnelli
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“Robinson and Cole is one of the leading land use and planning attorneys in the country,” said Town Administrator David Drumeler at last week’s Town Council meeting. He said the law firm was involved in the original Supreme Court litigation involving tax sharing in Minnesota and will guide Secaucus in the process of determining a solution to its tax sharing burden.

“We will be able to adequately address the inadequacies in the formula and where it should go in the future,” noted Drumeler.

Members of the Hackensack Meadowlands Municipal Committee (HMMC) late last year voted to change the tax-sharing formula’s base year from 1970 to 2004. But towns like Kearny who get large payments from tax sharing are fighting back and have hired their own lawyers to try to prevent the state legislature and governor from approving the amendment.

Gonnelli said he was disheartened to talk about “the never-ending saga of tax-sharing,” during last week’s meeting. He said that during a HMMC meeting last week the towns that receive money from tax sharing lined up against him.

“This is going to be a long haul,” said Gonnelli. “Once we have this report in hand we are sure we will be able to persuade legislators to change the formula.”

Other business:

Also at the meeting:

• John Bueckner was reappointed Deputy Mayor.

• Justin Machno was sworn in as a probationary police officer effective Jan. 14 with an annual salary of $35,000.

• The Recreation Center reported $270,000 in income last year, including $179,000 in membership fees.

• Six infrared cameras will be installed at two catwalks, one that crosses over Flanagan Way over Route 3 East to Wood Avenue, and a second that goes from Wood Avenue to Maple Street. The area will be monitored from the police desk. Completion of the installation is expected by the spring.

• The Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center has begun a complimentary shuttle bus service for residents in town.

Special recognition

Resident Danny Conroy received a special plaque in recognition of his contributions to the town. During the holidays his company, Commercial Furniture Transport, donated 10,000 pieces of Mattell and Hasbro toys through Angel Wish, which went to children in seven area towns.

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at afernandez@hudsonreporter.com.

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