Reevaluation Hurts Residents in 2020 Woolwich Municipal BudgetJuly 2, 2020
WOOLWICH TWP. — At their meeting on June 15, the Woolwich Township Committee approved and adopted its 2020 municipal budget.
This budget calls for an actual rate decrease but because of the recent reevaluations, it will mean an increase in resident tax bills.
“Our tax rate is going from .555 to .511,” explained Woolwich Township CFO Will Pine. “That’s a decrease of 4.4 cents.” However, said Pine, the average bill is going to go up $38. “We had the reevaluation that changed the home values for some people. The rate went down, but the value went up,” he explained.
Elsewhere, another resolution passed by the Committee temporarily relaxes existing ordinances and procedures associated with review and approval of restaurants and eating establishments and retail business, along with provisions for outdoor dining and outdoor displays to provide assistance to local retail businesses under the current social distancing restrictions enacted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The New Jersey Department of Health has developed health and safety standards that food or beverage establishments will have to follow. Woolwich Township also will adopt a temporary ordinance that allows outdoor dining and outdoor expansion for liquor license holders.
In other reports, Woolwich Fire Company Chief Dave Valichka reported that May started out slowly as restrictions began to be lifted and people began to move around a bit more. “We started our daytime duty crew around the last week in May, we’re going on our fourth week right now. The schedule is filled up into the last week in August, which has been great,” the Chief said. “The guys are on from 7 a.m. until 4 in the afternoon.”
Woolwich has generally been an all volunteer fire company. The daytime duty crew started on June 1, which was the purpose of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant from FEMA.
Valichka said the firemen have made some good saves recently, in a landfill in South Harrison, and a third-story building fire in Logan. “They’ve been a great addition to the department, and a big help during the daytime,” he commented. “Everybody is just waiting for some extra relief right now so they can get back to training.”
“Thank you for everything you guys do,” praised Mayor Vernon Marino. “You’re on the front lines, just like our police department, and I appreciate what you guys do. “You guys get great feedback.
In his police report, Woolwich Police Chief Richard Jaramillo reported that the police started at High Hill Road, a crosswalk that never got taken care of, with 15 hours of manpower. “We issued about nine tickets, we had about 200 people cross, we made about 19 vehicle stops, and we educated about 18 pedestrians about the crosswalk. We had a little bit of productivity out there, and some of the feedback we got from residents was very positive,” explained the Chief. “Morale is high, it’s getting hotter, and we’re out and about.”
“Your men are working hard every day,” commented Marino. There have been concerns on High Hill Road from parents with children crossing now that the township has installed the walking path. “And I appreciate you jumping on that for education. Motor vehicles don’t always know that they have to stop, and pedestrians don’t realize that they can’t just walk out in front of traffic,” he added.
Marino went out with Chief Jaramillo for the Solidarity March held on June 13. “I thought it was done respectfully, I thought it was important, and I thought it was a good event,” Marino noted. “I thought it all worked out very well. I appreciate your educating the public.”
Participants met at Locke Avenue Park for a march of solidarity with our police officers, police chaplains, citizens, and town officials to show that Woolwich Township was united and stands against injustice peacefully.
Committeewoman Gina Santore offered similar words to the police who worked the Solidarity March, along with the young ladies who planned the event and worked with the different groups in the community. “It was really an honor to be there and amplify our voices, Santore remarked. “It was a really great day.”
Marino and Chief Jaramillo estimated attendance to be between 300 to 350 people.
In his report, Engineer Travis Grieman said that the municipal aid application will be submitted by July 1. Two are being submitted, one for Swedesboro Avenue, and another for the bike lane on the High Hill Road shared path, Phase 3. “We expect to hear about the results of the application later in the year,” Greiman mentioned.
Elsewhere, Committeeman Craig Frederick reported that Woolwich issued a total of 56 permits during June. “The parks are doing a great job getting ready for late June,” Frederick commented. local parks were expected to be reopened on June 22.
He said that the community was going ahead with the purchase of guinea hens for Tranquility Trail, and Woolwich was up and running with the process of getting Pet Waste Stations created. Guinea hens are helpful in getting rid of pests and other insects.” We approved up to $1,000 for the purchase of the guinea hens and their feeders,” Frederick observed.
In her report, Santore said that Woolwich Township was collecting a lot of metal tonnage.
Deputy Mayor Natalie Matthias mentioned in her report that the allotment from this year’s state budget is supposed to have an increase for the local school district. “We didn’t get any less than we got last year, but we were scheduled to receive more than that,” Matthias noted.
Mayor Marino reported that the township had its first video court session recently, and Marino said it went smoothly.
by Robert Holt