Sicklerville Year in Review: Day Three

As we prepare for 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year in our schools, in the community and in Gloucester Township

Members of the Gloucester Township Police Department and Mayor David R. Mayer pose for a photo in front of the department building before heading out for the National Night Out festivities in August.

Another year is coming to a close, and Gloucester Township residents have plenty to look back on from the municipal and school levels, as well as community events. Let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year:

Gloucester Township introduces 2018 municipal budget

At a meeting in March, Gloucester Township Council approved a resolution introducing its 2018 municipal budget, which was at $61,893,753,69.

The tentative tax rate was 1.091, an increase of .079 from the previous year.

Also at the meeting, council approved the execution of shared services agreements between the township and the Black Horse Pike Regional and Gloucester Township Public Schools boards of education to renew three-year contracts funding school resource officers in the 2018–2019 school year.

Hundreds of residents showed up to the next Gloucester Township Council meeting at the municipal courtroom, voicing concerns.

According to Mercado, the average assessed home is valued at $195,000, configuring an annual increase of $154.05 in municipal property taxes. Mercado says the average household will pay $7,798 in taxes, with nearly $2,100 to the municipality.

Dozens of residents questioned the need to increase taxes, since Mayer had recently stated the township had saved more than $2.5 million over the past five years thanks to reduced spending.

Mercado said at the meeting that for every $1 of tax, about 29 cents goes toward the municipality and various township services, such as the police station, public works and other activities.

Passed later in June, the municipal tax rate was set to increase 7.7 cents per every $100 of assessed property value from the previous year. The amended budget passed by a vote of 7–0, and decreased by $79,000 from the original proposed budget.

Township introduces Curb My Clutter

Gloucester Township added a new recycling initiative available for residents that doesn’t cost any taxpayer money.

The township partnered with Curb My Clutter, a recycling service that allows residents to schedule free collection of clothes and electronics rather than including these items in the everyday trash only to end up in a landfill.

Bob Anderson, vice president of sales at Curb my Clutter, said, “The company formed out of recognition that 85 percent of clothing today ends up in a landfill.”

Curb My Clutter serves 65,000 houses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey with hope to expand further by 2019.

Municipalities pay per ton when disposing of waste, and this service has the ability to save the township the added weight of clothes and electronics that would otherwise go in the trash.

A nonprofit fusion produces one of the largest nonprofits in South Jersey

Good things came in pairs as two nonprofit organizations, Center for Family Services and Family Service Association of South Jersey, merged this year to create one of the largest nonprofits in South Jersey.

Together, these nonprofit organizations combined to have a staff of more than 1,000 people and more than 70 programs providing support services. With an operating budget of about $65 million (provided through funding from the state, donations and fundraisers), the merge allowed services to be available to children and families in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, and Salem counties, with some statewide services.

The merger had been approved by both organizations and was effective Oct. 1, with Richard Stagliano continuing to serve as CEO at Center for Family Services after FSA merged into it, and Cindy Herdman-Ivins, president of FSA, serving as COO alongside Eileen Henderson and Merilee Rutolo overseeing program operations and administrative functions.

“Sometimes bringing people together and bringing resources together allows you to have better outcomes and results,” Stagliano said. “We’re proud of the work that we do, and I’m grateful for the staff who work here and for FSA. They’re very special people and they’re very passionate people.”

He stated both organizations bring knowledge to the table, they can share their resources, create a greater sense of geography, and they can use these new benefits to continue to provide the best possible services to the people in the communities they serve.

“The main goal is really to continue to provide the best practices to the people we serve, to continue to expand and bring resources to the communities we serve, to provide good opportunities to our staff who make a commitment and passion in helping others,” Stagliano said. “It’s to make a difference here in South Jersey.”

Dave and Buster’s coming to Gloucester Township — eventually

Although still approximately two years away from opening its doors for business, Gloucester Township Council continued to pave the way for a Dave and Buster’s franchise location along Route 42 at the Gloucester Township Premium Outlets.

At a council meeting in October, two resolutions were passed that helped continue to make progress for the business coming to the township. A redeveloper was named for a plot of land for the project, while another amended the current township code regarding the style of business of an electronic game restaurant.

The ordinance allowed the creation of an “indoor amusement park,” so long as it is at least 30,000 square feet of interior space and has more than 125 amusement devices, either coin-operated, skill-based, electronic and more. Additionally, a Recognized Amusement Park may be operated between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 a.m., however must be closed to the public between those three hours.

“It allows them to operate that type of business,” said Mercado. “They’ll be an amusement park that’s open more than 31 days, we don’t have that type of business in Gloucester Township.”

As is stands now, the plan is for Dave and Buster’s to break ground before summer of 2019 in anticipation of an early 2020 opening.

There are still other barriers the company will have to pass before being able to set up shop in town, such as being approved for a liquor license, however, plans are moving forward.