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Woolwich Introduces 2017 Budget with Zero Tax Increase

May 4, 2017 12:05 am0 commentsViews: 33

woolwich twp webWOOLWICH TWP.  —  During the Woolwich Township Committee meeting on April 17, Deputy Mayor Frank Rizzi announced that the community would not be seeing a tax increase for 2017.

Woolwich introduced their budget on April 3, and Rizzi reemphasized the news during his Finance report. Rizzi stressed that the Committee was able to reduce costs despite health insurance expenses that rose by about $100,000.

Mayor Alan Schwager noted that Woolwich had made a concerted effort to hold the budget at flat because Superintendent of Schools Jim Lavender has a significant increase in Kingsway’s tentative budget due to the insufficient school funding issue.

Committeeman John Carleton pointed out that the Committee had been out in full force at the last school funding forum at Kingsway. “That underlines the importance of the issue in the community,” he said.

But Schwager questioned whether Kingsway was sending out mixed signals. He mentioned that Kingsway supported Senate President Steve Sweeney’s plan to phase in Kingsway’s funding over five years, while many high school students said they wanted their full funding now.

The Woolwich mayor has gone on record saying that he does not support the Kingsway Fair Funding Action Committee’s plan to phase in their fair share of funding over a period of five or more years. Schwager has stated, “Woolwich and its residents deserve and demand to be fully funded in the 2017-2018 state budget cycle.”

In his fire report, Rizzi said the Woolwich Fire Company responded to 54 calls in March. One of them was a major fire at 61 Longleaf Lane in Woolwich. A single family home was involved and the fire was close to a second, but the firefighters quickly brought it under control.

For Parks and Recreation, the Deputy Mayor reported that the recent Father Daughter Dance and Egg Scramble events had been well attended, and Locke Ave. Fun Day was set for May 6. Committeeman Dan Battisti said members for a Green Team were being recruited, and that would be up and running shortly.

For Streets and Roads, Schwager mentioned that Gloucester County has agreed to do a study of the Woodstown Road/Oldman’s Creek Road intersection due to numerous accidents there. In Zoning, Schwager listed 62 zoning permits for the community in March. The mayor added in his Police report that the local force has started bike patrols.

The night’s resolutions saw the Committee authorize the hiring of part-time seasonal janitorial workers for Locke Ave. Park. They also approved hiring summer help for the Public Works Department, along with an interim Park Director. Rizzi noted that there had been more work for the Park Director than they anticipated, and said the position would be offered to the public when they were ready to hire someone permanently.

Also, Director of Community Development Matt Blake reported that Woolwich Township had recently preserved the 35-acre Daybreak Farm on High Hill Road. “Woolwich balances development with meaningful preservation,” Blake observed. “That’s how we keep residential areas viable.”

“If you give us more tools to use with developers, that gives them more incentive to come in and give us a viable community,” commented Schwager.

Blake mentioned that a major new parking area trailhead is opening, and will be an event. “A  nature trail will connect 11 properties together into a multi-mile trail system,” explained Blake. “This will become a major destination.” The project was completed through a grant from the New Jersey Recreational Trails Program.

Blake added that despite redevelopment plans, Woolwich had now completed preservation of 850 acres. “Most counties won’t preserve that in a year, we did it in a few months,” commented Blake. “We’re aggressive and we’re effective in pursuing farmland grants.”

by Robert Holt

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