Haddonfield commissioners appropriate bonds for local improvements and set the CAP Bank at Tuesday…

Haddonfield commissioners appropriate bonds for local improvements and set the CAP Bank at Tuesday, March 28 meeting

Fiscal and historical concerns dominate Tuesday’s Haddonfield Commissioners’ meeting.

Borough commissioners adopted a capital bond ordinance appropriating $816,000 and authorizing up to $775,200 in bonds or notes for recreational, building and other capital improvements as well setting the amount for the CAP bank at the Tuesday, March 28 meeting.

Recreational improvements include rehabilitating Centennial Field, fencing for Crows Wood Nature Preserve and reconstructing tennis courts at Centennial Fields. Proposed building improvements include foundation improvements to Mable Key Senior Citizen Center and repairs to the Public Works building.

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Additionally, appropriations will be made for the Department of Public Works to acquire a street cleaner, and the funding will go toward maintenance of local parking lots. Bonds and notes totalling $775,200 will finance part of the cost for these improvements.

The commissioners also adopted an ordinance to preserve a CAP bank during Tuesday’s meeting. Borough commissioners had previously introduced the 2017 municipal budget at their March 14 meeting. In the proposed budget, municipal taxes would remain flat for residents. Residents with an average assessed home of $491,673 would pay $2,266.62 in municipal taxes.

Terry W. Henry, chief financial officer, said the overall budget increased from $16,283,530 in 2016 to $17,103,05 in 2017. Mayor Jeff Kasko said both the appropriations and revenue sides of the budget saw an increase this year. He said property taxes were able to remain flat this year as the result of other revenue streams as well as a slight increase in the total amount of ratables, which brings in more property tax dollars at the same tax rate as last year.

The next public hearing on the budget is scheduled for the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The board introduced an ordinance establishing the salaries and wages for a portion of borough employees. Wage rates for all permanent and full-time employees are determined by the borough administrator and are reviewed annually. This ordinance will be up for second reading at Haddonfield’s April 11 meeting.

The 2017 budget for the Partnership for Haddonfield was also introduced at Tuesday’s meeting. The Partnership board submitting an annual budget proposing total revenue of $356,700, which equates to their proposed total expenses of $356,700. The revenue streams include sources such as the Crafts and Fine Art Festival income and its Camden County sponsorship. Expenses include marketing and public relations, retail recruitment and retention, the Information Center and other costs. The budget will be revisited in a month for adoption.

In other news:

• Fiscal matters gave way to historical concerns during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting. Attorney Richard M. Hluchan raised concerns about the proposed Boxwood Arts project, which he called “dead on arrival.”

Hluchan referred to Boxwood Hall as “the most historically significant property in Haddonfield,” and he said the proposed Boxwood Arts Group’s plan to turn Boxwood Hall into an art gallery is inconsistent with applicable laws.

He said the Boxwood Arts group has no legal right to the property with no option, lease or agreement to purchase, and as such, he asked the commissioners to publicly advise the group its project is not viable because the space is entitled to special protection with any lease or transfer requiring approval by the Historic Preservation Office of the state Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP is required to deny any application that diminishes the integrity of the property’s location, materials, setting and design, and as such, the Boxwood Art’s proposed theatre, ballroom and catering facilities will not pass with the DEP, Hluchan said.

Mayor Jeffrey Kasko said the commissioners will definitely have future conversations about the Boxwood Arts project.

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