Gloucester Township adds grants into municipal budgets

Public concerned about grant’s coverage of Public Works overtime.

During its Sept. 11 meeting, Gloucester Township Council approved the insertion of revenue into the township’s original 2017 municipal budget of $59,389,202.90, which was approved in April.

The special items stem from a series of state and federal grants, according to Council.

Some are continuation of annual programs, such as the Clean Communities Grant, while specific departments, such as the police, applied to others, like the Justice Assistance Grant.

Since grants arrive after the budget is approved, Council spends against a receivable account. The insertion of these requests adds to the total budget on both the revenue side and expenditure side, according to the township’s business administrator, Thomas Cardis.

These include projects such as the the $25,000 bike kiosk, which came from Camden County Open Space, and the $5,000 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign, which came from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

A major insertion was $121,778.38 from the Clean Communities Grant, which is funded by the state.

At the meeting, members of the public raised concerns regarding this specific grant’s coverage of overtime for public works employees.

Considering the four-day workweek, which was implemented by former Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton in 2008 in an attempt to conserve energy and streamline services, citizens question the income source of employees working on weekends, including Fridays, as those funds could come from taxpayers.

“When individuals see people, our public works, working on the weekends, people tend to assume they’re working overtime,” said Council President Orlando Mercado. “No, it’s part of the Clean Communities Program, which pays for salaries of those individuals to go to our parks, clean up our parks, empty out the trash and go throughout the community as part of our litter patrol.”

However, Council did mention that while some individuals are scheduled straight time Friday to Monday, employees can opt to work overtime on weekends, primarily custodial staff, according to Cardis.

Pete Heinbaugh of Sicklerville questioned if the public works litter patrol was a supplement to the general budget.

“(The grant) augments the individuals who work in public works,” Mercado said. “If you’re emptying trash at a park, we can divert staff to do other items and projects throughout the town.”

The grant allows the government to maintain current staffing levels, according to Cardis.

However, over the past decade, as energy costs have gone down with alternative sources such as solar, the need for four-day work week is debatable, as, now, Friday could possibly be tacked on to the business week, according to Ray Polidoro, chairman of the Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee.

“It’s ludicrous behavior that if you work a Friday in public works, you have the opportunity for overtime,” Polidor said, following the meeting.

In other news:

-Council approved an ordinance encompassed in the Property Maintenance Code. Through this amendment, if a complaint order has to be issued by the officer regarding a particular property, it will be served personally, through regular mail or hung or left inside the door. The officer will then take a photo of the summons if it was left inside the door. If the homeowner of the property cannot be located, they can advertise in the paper for up to two weeks.