The Lake Hopatcong Commission on Wednesday night held a meeting that was similar to those that nearly every family has during tough economic times: they looked over a list of their income and expenses and figured out how much they could afford to spend.
As it turns out, they can afford about another week of weed harvesting, with another week afterward to put the harvesters away.
"We all agree we're going to harvest another five to seven days," commission chairman and Jefferson mayor Russ Felter said, "unless pennies rain from heaven."
Wednesday's meeting was a relatively quick one, held so that commissioners could allocate money toward weed harvesting for potentially the last time this summer, as well as move the date of its next meeting from July 18 to 25.
As of June 30, the commission had $77,025 available funds in its operating account. They have already committed $23,783 through the end of this month, and $25,369 in personnel costs through the August 12 paydate. For the remainder of the year (August through December), the commission has an estimated $21,425 in expenses, such as pollution insurance and office costs. To help balance that, they have $66,235 coming in through reimbursements from Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation grants.
In the end, Felter said, the commission can operate the weed harvest for a short period of time without running the risk of spending more than it has. "We have room to operate," he said. "Trust me, I would never leave the commissioners [liable]."
Those numbers (shown in the accounting log below) are going to be confirmed by an audit through the Department of Community Affairs, as suggested by commissioner Tom Foley of Mt. Arlington—a motion that was passed unanimously.
"This is just for the purpose of prudence on our part," commissioner Dan McCarthy of Hopatcong said.
With one abstention (from commissioner David Jarvis of Morris County), the commission unanimously approved the motion to keep staff members on through July 29 for the weed harvest operations. The harvest would only be extended if money were to come from Trenton or through private fundraising means; the commission has spent the last of the funding it has available for the effort.
That expense, Felter said, is worth it for every minute the harvesters are out there. "If you look at the dump truck [of removed weeds], it's unbelievable," he said. "They referred to it as if they were mowing a golf course out there."
The harvesters, he said, will hit as much of the lake as they can during the short time that the harvest can run, though they will not be able to get in close to docks. Weed harvesting began on Monday, and the machines have been to Woodport, Shallow Cove, River Styx, and the southern end of the lake.
"They're at least doing some good out there while they can," Felter said.
The next meeting of the Lake Hopatcong Commission (which has been moved) will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 25, in the all-purpose room at the Jefferson Municipal Building.