East Greenwich Still Adding Up Storm Damage

east greenwich webby Robert Holt

MICKLETON — At their meeting on July 14, the East Greenwich Township Committee discussed the state of their community’s finances with CFO Robert Law after the major storm of June 23.

East Greenwich Mayor Dale Archer listed the community’s current damage totals at $1.1 million. Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives have been assessing the damage.

On July 14 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a request for $15 million in disaster relief for the hardest hit counties. FEMA will pay up to 75 percent after Christie signed the disaster declaration.

Law explained that the $1.1 million included chain saw usage, and costs of trucks and vehicles. Questions remained on hiring of outside help, and overtime pay. New Jersey wants all the expenses to be storm-related costs.

Committeeman Stephen Bottiglieri said, “Just based on the number of officers on the street the Wednesday after the storm, we’ll need to go higher on the numbers.” Archer added, “We made the decision to put officers on the street for our residents. It was money well spent.”

“We were the hardest hit of all the municipalities, and what happens now is a request for emergency appropriations,” Law explained. “Streets, fire, and police were the items I want to include in the request.”

Law suggested that every item needed to be completely documented.

Archer noted that 40 to 50 trees had to be removed from the township’s baseball field. He mentioned that three police cars were damaged, and one policeman was injured. Deputy Mayor Jim Philbin added that approximately 500 homes were damaged in the storm.

“There are some expenses for this township that we will not know for a long time,” Bottiglieri said.

Archer, who admitted he was not in town during the storm, credited Philbin for his leadership and fast response during the storm. “The Deputy Mayor was on the ground from the beginning,” Archer related. “Every employee was on the ground.”

“It was the grouping of the leaders of our township that made this all come together,” praised the mayor. “We did what was right for our residents.”

“I could not be prouder of this group,” he added.

Archer also cited Committeeman Bob Tice for writing a text message a minute into the storm. And he noted that Bottiglieri had spent $550 at a Wawa at 2:30 a.m. for food and supplies for employees.

Elsewhere, Archer announced that the Committee had drafted a letter to Christie regarding severe underfunding for the township’s schools. The letter stated that the funding formula had been inadequately applied to East Greenwich Township, and funding was well below 50 percent.

“I think this is a very important letter, and one of the few steps we can take,” Bottiglieri commented.

In new business, the Committee authorized entering into a solar power and services agreement. “This is a collaborative effort between the school district and the community,” Archer explained. The township will save over $100,000 a year with this project.”

Also, the Committee accepted the resignation of John McClay as electrical subcode/inspector, and authorized a shared services agreement with Woolwich Township for an electrical inspector.

They also considered using their own abandoned property program instead of that of Gloucester County. “If we can do this in house, it can be a real money generator for the township,” said Solicitor Mark Shoemaker.

In other items, the Committee discussed adding an East Greenwich phone app for communication with residents during an emergency. And VFW Post #5579 in Gibbstown donated $1,500 for the purchase of body cameras for the East Greenwich Police Department.

Earlier in the meeting, the Committee offered a moment of silence for Lorraine Grasso, a long-time active resident of East Greenwich, and a member of the Senior Services Commission. Grasso passed away on July 8.

And the Committee honored Ryan Wolfe for renovating the Kathy Kuchler Memorial Park as his Eagle Scout project. Philbin called Wolfe a “down-to-earth, level headed young man.” Archer said, “You cleaned up our community, and you gave back to your community.”

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