Haddonfield’s board of commissioners took several steps toward improving safety, security and liveability at its most recent public meeting, while also introducing a finalized version of the 2020 budget.
During that Aug. 17 virtual session, the three-member body passed, upon first reading, an ordinance appropriating more than $3 million in the expected yearly budget to fund nine separate projects to improve, upgrade, alter and add to the borough’s stormwater infrastructure.
“With the amount of severe storms we’ve had since 2019, stormwater has been a lingering issue throughout town. We’re making these changes for the betterment of the borough,” said Mayor Neal Rochford.
On the docket for 2020 are the repair and replacement of the outfall by South Atlantic Avenue, pipe replacement on Heritage Road, installation of new inlets on Heritage, Upland Way and Lafayette Avenue, installation of an underground storage tank on Homestead Avenue, along with installation of a new sump pump collector system and manhole reconfiguration on Homestead Avenue and Barberry Lane.
“We are making a significant investment in stormwater improvements around town. This will be the first of several bond issuances that will occur in the future. We all agreed these are the first steps in a multi-phase, multi-year process,” added Commissioner Jeffrey Kasko.
Having earmarked approximately $14 million in temporary funds back in April, which was intended to ride out the effects of COVID-19, commissioners approved, on first reading, a full operating budget for 2020.
The total budget amount is slated to be just under $19.2 million, with $12.2 million expected to arrive through property taxes. With a local purpose tax of $0.5284 cents per $100 of assessed property value, the increase of $0.0053 cents works out to $26 over last year for the average assessed home value in the borough of $488,481.
“That’s a slight increase over last year’s amount. We think this is responsible, based on state aid and revenue projections for this year,” Kasko added.
The budget is also expected to include, aside from the aforementioned $3 million for stormwater infrastructure, $2.24 million for the 2020 roads program, as well as a 14.95 percent increase in salary for borough employees.
“This has not been an easy year. We did take some revenue hits this year. I think you’re paying attention to what the taxpayers of Haddonfield want, which is exceptional services with a minimum of tax burden for its citizens,” Rochford remarked.
A final hearing for the budget is slated to occur on Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall, which coincides with a currently-scheduled public commissioners’ meeting.
Commissioners also formalized the authorization to sign an agreement with Community Investment Strategies, Inc. of Lawrenceville, to serve as the borough’s affordable-housing developer.
The resolution had originally been up for a vote during a July 27 virtual action meeting and work session which was open to the public, but was tabled at the last moment due to the need for certain language alterations.
According to Commissioner Colleen Bianco Bezich, a public meeting is expected to be held via Zoom on Aug. 24 for citizens to ask questions about, and to discuss specifics regarding, the progress of affordable-housing projects within the borough.
In other news:
- Having received 11 different bids for concrete repair services relating to damage sustained to borough sidewalks and curbs during an early June storm, commissioners accepted the bid of K Concrete, LLC of South Dennis, for $38,550.
- Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough said the nearly-consummated land swap between the borough and the board of education is currently being held up by some red-tape at the state level, regarding the easement for Lullworth Hall.
- Rochford and Kasko ended the meeting by paying tribute to, and lamenting the loss of, Kings Highway pizzeria Villa Rosa, which closed the previous weekend, after more than three decades of serving the public, due to economic effects related to COVID-19.