Council adopts budget with tax decrease

Mayor credits collaborative effort as key reason to lower tax rate

Nothing could stop Washington Township Council from adopting the 2019 municipal budget. Not even having three of the five council members call in to the meeting because they were absent.

Council President Joe Perry, Andrew Dougherty and Dana Pasqualone were absent from the meeting and forced to call in. With no president in attendance, Council Vice President Sean Longfellow was left to run the meeting.

With Dougherty, Pasqualone and Perry on the phone along with Longfellow and Andra Pasquarella-Williams present, council voted to pass the municipal budget unanimously on second reading.

In the first two years of Mayor Joann Gattinelli’s administration the tax rate was steady. This year, residents will see a slight drop in the municipal purpose tax. For the average home valued at $210,358 a resident will see their purpose tax drop $5 for the year.

“I can say that between myself, our business administrator, chief financial officer and assistant chief financial officer, it was a collaborative effort,” Gattinelli said. “We found monies to utilize and keep resources the same, bring in more services for the town, and cut the tax rate slightly. Albeit something small, it’s something we worked hard on to give the residents a reduction.”

One of the things Gattinelli credits for the success is the collaborative effort, not just between her administration but from the town itself.

“I’m proud of the fact that we had our open budget meetings and heard from residents with constructive information and ways to be able to cut some costs in a sense or look at cost-savings and things to be more cost-effective which is helpful,” she said.

Looking forward to next year, Gattinelli believes she will bring back the open budget meetings while looking for grants and other monies to utilize.

In other news:

  • Gattinelli awarded James McCann the “Employee of the Month” for May. McCann is the property maintenance inspector for the township.

“Jim has been an employee with Washington Township since May of 1992,” she said. “I can’t ask for a more dedicated, committed person in our building than Jim McCann. Jim sees our town, loves our town, is dedicated to our town and wants to do everything in order to bring this town to the next level.”

  • Gattinelli gave a proclamation for “National Gun Violence Awareness Day” to representatives from gun safety group Moms Demand Action. A national gun violence awareness event was scheduled for June 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roosevelt Park in Camden.
  • Council passed a resolution allowing a block party barbecue at Washington Baptist Church on June 23 and a fishing tournament hosted by City of Angels in honor of Ryan Donahue to be held on Aug. 18.
  • Council passed two resolutions to accept appropriations from two community block grants. One is for $117,764, which is for a generator and improvements to the senior center. The other is for $130,056 and is for road improvements at Congress Drive and the associated courts.
  • A resolution was passed regarding the request and approval of a Clean Communities grant for $98,772.40.
  • A resolution was passed regarding the request and approval of a Sustainable Jersey grant for $2,000.
  • The next council meeting is scheduled for June 26 at 7 p.m. at the municipal building on Egg Harbor Road. This meeting is open to the public.