Jim Skidmore briefs the Berkeley Heights Township Council about the first annual Heights Fest to be held Saturday, Aug. 4 beginning at 4 p.m. at Mount Carmel Field. Tickets can be purchased online at www.heightsfest.com. Proceeds will benefit the Mount Carmel Society, Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society. Credits: Deb Dawson
Berkeley Heights Council Approves Capital, Bond Ordinances
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 • 7:26am
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – A capital ordinance for $57,000 and a bond ordinance appropriating $1,608,873 and authorizing the issuance of $1,148,000 of bonds or notes were unanimously introduced at the Township Council’s Tuesday, July 24 meeting. The public hearing for both will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 7 in the municipal building beginning at 7 p.m.
Included in the capital ordinance are $6,000 for thermal monoculars for the police department; $7,000 for equipment for the Department of Public Works including a compact tractor; $10,000 for improvements to municipal facilities including safety windows and salt dome doors; $21,000 for fire department equipment including hoses, air packs, tri-pods, vent fans, pagers, smoke ejectors and generators; and $13,000 for administrative equipment including servers, computers and community communications equipment.
Mayor Joseph Bruno said the township will be retiring $1,277,700 in debt this year and the difference with the new bond ordinance will be only $129,700 more, so taxes will not be going up as a result of the capital expenditures.
Included in the bond ordinance, which CFO Michel Marceau said will likely be paid off in 10 years, are: $187,410 for police equipment including weapons, in-car video systems, vehicles and vehicle outfitting; $109,250 for public works
equipment including a chipper and mason dump truck; $52,144 for fire equipment including turnout gear, mobile radios and a thermal imaging camera; $19,000 for administrative equipment including records retention and related costs; $552,764 for improvements to municipal facilities including a new dispatch system, roofing, generators, fencing and garage doors; and, $227,423 for roads including street signs, crack sealing, micro surfacing, milling, and paving. The township received a $400,000 state Department of Transportation grant to offset some of the costs for
In other business:
Mayor Joseph Bruno asked the council for direction in what he couldoffer Zoning Officer Thomas Bocko to become full-time and assume responsibilities for zoning, code review and to be the tree official. Bruno said he surveyed surrounding municipalities and the salaries for comparable jobs range from $61,971 up to $190,00 with most over $100,000. The current salary authorized for Berkeley Heights is $60,500.
"I have a candidate, our current zoning official. He has an offer for $62,500 from another town,” said Bruno. The council declined to make a larger offer until the ordinance governing the salary is changed. Bruno replied, “As long as people aren’t upset by way of losing someone for $2,000, I’ll make the offer tomorrow.”
Bruno was also looking for direction on how to get “distressed” properties cleaned up.
“I’ve been called by a number of residents about distressed, unsightly properties in town. They’re owned by banks; one is owned by a citizen who left the country… If you lived next door you’d want someone to do something
An ordinance provides for charging homeowners $200 per day until they clean up their property, so the council felt it would be best for the zoning officer to simply enforce that ordinance. Bruno said he hopes now that the officer will be full-time he will have the time to do it.
“What’s it going to take to get a bank to keep the grass cut?” he asked. “The one on Washington -- the grass is at least two feet.”
Councilman Thomas Pirone questioned what is happening with a fire alarm needed at the rescue squad building. He asked about this four weeks ago.
Bruno said the fire suppressant system is functional but there is no sprinkler in the room where the rescuers sleep and the building needs to be hooked up to a monitoring system.
“No one would be notified if there was a fire, but the suppressant system is functional,” he said.
Pirone pressed for something to be done more rapidly.
The Parks Recreation Program is off to a good start, averaging 300 kids a day with 526 registered, said Council Vice President Craig Pastore. Township Administrator Amey Upchurch added the summer police academy had 30
cadets in the first class of the season and 80 children are registered for the second class.
The mayor met with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Robert Martin and the mayors from 10 other municipalities along the Passaic River regarding a DEP suit which names Berkeley Heights
as a fourth defendant because its sewer department discharges into the Passaic. According to the mayor, Martin said the DEP is not “going after” Berkeley Heights, but after Occidental Petroleum for an oil spill in Newark.
The mayor inquired about money that might be coming from the DEP to help clean up the river from the floods last fall. “They were not in the mood to give us any money,” he said. “I’m looking for the four towns (around Berkeley
Heights) and the two counties to keep as much water in the river as possible” when the rains come.
The fist annual Heights Fest will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4 from 4 p.m. to midnight at Mount Carmel Field. Jim Skidmore from the Heights Fest Committee briefed the council at its July 24 meeting. Fireworks are a possibility. He said there will be music to dance to, bag pipes, a magician and comedian, vendor booths and lots of other entertainment, plus Governor Livingston reunions. Proceeds will go to The Mount Carmel Society, Relay for
Life and the American Cancer Society.
“The goal is to draw people back to Berkeley Heights to aid commerce and to raise money for the charitable organizations,” he said.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.heightsfest.com. They cost $19.99 for adults. Children six to 12 are $9.99 and kids five and under are free. The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 5.