Commissioners’ first work session of 2021 yields temporary budget resolution

Cappelli provides update on vaccine rollout for borough and surrounding areas.

Haddonfield’s board of commissioners gathered in a virtual public forum for the first time in 2021 on the evening of Jan. 4, and hedged against another difficult path toward budget passage with the approval of a temporary resolution on finances. 

Although a customary measure at the start of every calendar year, passage of the legislation in light of the ongoing pandemic should ensure the borough will have funds with which to operate should conditions change. 

According to Commissioner for Revenue and Finance Jeffrey Kasko, the measure should provide the borough enough capital to pay bills and function properly until a permanent budget is passed. 

“There are no increases or major changes (from the previous year’s allotment),” Kasko mentioned.

Per Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough, the temporary operating figures are fixed at 26.5 percent of the total appropriations from the previous year’s final amount. That would put the 2021 temporary allotment at approximately $5.1 million. 

“Let’s hope our year runs smoother from last year’s experience due to the COVID issues that we ended up adopting our budget very late,” said Mayor Neal Rochford.

Because of the pandemic’s onset, commissioners hastily approved a $14 million budget in April 2020 as a stopgap measure for the remainder of the calendar year. The finalized budget was not approved until late September, due in large part to virus related delays at the state level in determining the amount of available financial aid. 

Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. was later welcomed by the commissioners for an update on the impending vaccine rollout and what it means for the borough and its surrounding communities. 

While Cappelli did not say whether or not Haddonfield would be chosen as a vaccine site, he did reveal that the closest one, at first, would be located at the Moorestown Mall, some 5.5 miles to the northeast and nestled inside Burlington County. 

“We do stand ready to start the implementation of the vaccines. I envision that as being a drive-thru testing site where we will coordinate times and schedules for people to be vaccinated,” Cappelli said. “My hope is that you will be able to remain in your car. We really just need access to your upper arm and to administer the vaccination itself.”

Cappelli said the county is expected to ramp up its vaccine access over the next 10 days to the so-called 1B group, which, according to the state website, comprises front line essential workers as well as individuals over 75. 

In response to a request from Rochford to protect Haddonfield’s police, first responders and public works officials from a potential COVID outbreak, Cappelli said those groups would fall under the 1B designation. 

“I think there are some challenges as we go from the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration. We have less vaccines than we were originally committed to,” Cappelli noted. “I’m a little more concerned at the accessibility of the vaccine, not so much the targeting of the population.”

Cappelli said his office would share with the borough all information regarding vaccination sites as they come online in the near future, so commissioners can  provide that information as clearly as possible to residents. 

In other news:

  • Since the annual mayor’s breakfast at First Presbyterian Church will not proceed due to COVID, Rochford and fellow commissioners agreed to release their customary State of the Borough addresses online. McCullough said she would work with the commissioners in the coming weeks on their respective remarks for future distribution.
  • Prior to the meeting, Rochford paid tribute to William Reynolds, former mayor of the borough, who passed away on Jan. 3. Reynolds was head of governance from 1973 to 1977.
  • McCullough revealed that, effective this year, the third Friday in June is to be celebrated as Juneteenth, a paid holiday for state workers. Commissioners were unsure how the borough would proceed as far as its own employees.