By Jenny Cowan
According to Woolwich Township Chief Financial Officer William Pine, the municipal tax rate will go up 2.26 cents from $.4758 to $.4984. On the average assessed home in the township of $288,260, the increase is $65.15 annually or $5.43 per month.
Pine stated that this would still make the township the fifth lowest local purpose tax rate in the county.
This tax increase does not include any budgetary information from the school and county budget. These are separate budgets that must be adopted individual by their entity.
There were no members of the public present during the public portion of meeting, and as no concerns were raised, all committee members adopted the budget unanimously.
At the that meeting, the Mayor Sam Maccarone administered the oath of office to three new township police officers. Anthony Boatright, Ronald Costa, and Jeremy Beckett each took the oath and were sworn in as SLEO Class 1 Officers.
In ordinances, three new ordinances were introduced for a first reading. First, an ordinance to amend the township code that would clarify the right to more than one permitted use on a single property without the need to obtain a use variance was introduced.
Second, an ordinance that would allow the township to set a speed limit of 35 miles per hour on Mill Road between Swedesboro-Paulsboro Road and the Woolwich Township- East Greenwich line was submitted for first reading.
Third, an ordinance was introduced for a first reading that would remove the requirements for bonding on commercial construction projects. The ordinance states that currently the township code requires the posting of performance guarantees as a condition of approval for certain land use board applications.
However, the newly introduced ordinance states, “The Township Committee has made the determination that performance guarantees in the context of commercial development do not serve a practical purpose that would outweigh the developers’ cost in obtaining or providing such guarantees.”
“This ordinance was designed to attract commercial development, and we hope it will be well received,” said Deputy Mayor Alan Schwager. Committeeman Jonathan Fein agreed, adding that the previous requirements for obtaining approval were “overkill”.
Also in resolutions, the Committee passed a resolution that would require employees of the township to utilize direct deposit for the deposit of their net pay. Schwager voiced his opposition to the resolution. “I think it is a little bit over the top, and a little big brother, to require [people to use direct deposit]. I would like to respect people who choose not to”, said Schwager.
Township Chief Financial Officer William Pine was present to explain the benefits of requiring direct deposit. “The township will save $800 a year by moving everyone to direct deposit. If we move to paperless, it would be an additional $800 savings a year on top of that,” Pine said.
He added that direct deposit would also help with bookkeeping, and make sure that checks are cashed in a timely manner. Currently 55 employees use direct deposit, while 29 do not.
The committee passed the resolution, which they are given authority to do by a New Jersey state statute, with only Schwager casting an opposing vote.
In reports, Township Administrator Jane DiBella said that after much work, the township now has the ability to send out email blasts to residents who sign up on the mailing list. Residents can visit the township website to sign up for the email list, and will then receive emails about important township updates and news.
Matt Blake, Director of Community Development, reported that the township was recently awarded a $175,000 grant from the NJ DOT towards the construction of an off-road sidewalk along a portion of High Hill Road. Construction costs are estimated to be $193,825, so the township will need to augment the grants with local funds.
Blake added that South Jersey Gas has considered sponsoring a portion of the sidewalk project as a community relation’s gesture. Discussions are underway to extend the sidewalks form the site of the future roundabout and High Hill and Auburn Roads to the two entrances to High Hill Park.
Blake also noted that a State TDR bank board meeting in Trenton is scheduled for May 14. If the township can demonstrate a viable sewer plan for the receiving area, the Board will vote to release between $3 and 5 million to augment township funds to acquire TDR credits from willing sellers in a reverse auction planned for early summer.
Committeewoman Jennifer Cavallaro reported that the Swedesboro/Woolwich School Board has appointed Kristin O’Neil as the new Superintendent for the school district. Cavallaro noted that O’Neil, who is currently the Principal of West Deptford’s Green-Fields Elementary School, comes highly recommended and will begin her new role on July 1.
Cavallaro also mentioned that planning is underway for Locke Avenue Fun Day. The annual fun day will be held this year on May 30. Volunteer signups are coming soon.
Schwager reported that the township is working with the community garden to investigate the possibility of running a water line to the garden. For the first time, the garden is at full capacity this year, with 44 plots being rented by gardeners for the growing season.
Garden Coordinator Jordan Schlump is concerned that the water tanks currently in place may not be able to meet the water demand of so many gardeners. Schwager added that the township is trying to determine the cost effectiveness of running a water line if deemed possible, versus adding more water tanks to the site.