The Gloucester Township municipal budget for 2021-’22 has been officially introduced as of the April 12 meeting, with a zero percent tax rate increase. The public hearing is scheduled for May 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gloucester Township Municipal Building.
Also at the meeting, council reintroduced Ordinance 03-03 that adopts the Little Pond Overlay to provide residential and/or commercial development at 1110 Chews Land-Clementon Road. This was introduced July 13, 2020 but was being reintroduced so it is fresh in peoples’ minds before it goes to the Planning Board for suggestions, and back to the council for potential adoption. They also scratched Ordinances 21-06 and 21-07, which both dealt with amendments to land development Ordinance 03-03, from the agenda.
Triad Associate Michael Zampino provided an update on the Community Development Block Grant CARES Funds (CDBG-CV) for the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program. He shared that the first disbursements of $5,000 will be going out, and that ultimately, they will be able to disperse $425,000.
“Hopefully, the more information that gets out, the more positive responses from businesses that are participating we’ll get,” Zampino said.
Council President Orlando Mercado clarified with Zampino that if there is enough money left over, businesses will be able to reapply for seconds. Councilman Dan Hutchinson asked whether or not they would be able to expand who can receive money if there was a lot left over, to which Zampino responded that they would be able to amend the program, but the intent would still be to help businesses with the effects of the pandemic. Interested business owners can apply for aid at https://glotwp.com/cdbg/.
During the public portion of the regular meeting, resident Paul Krug shared his frustration at the lack of action being taken by the council to address issues such as the Blackwood Redevelopment Plan and the tax rate rising over the past 20 years.
Krug was addressed by both President Mercado and Councilman Hutchinson. Mercado reflected on the history of the Blackwood redevelopment plan, and the obstacles that the council had run into. For instance, previously they organized a charrette for residents to discuss what they’d like to see on Blackwood-Clementon Road, and then the recession hit.
“There are some things in government that don’t work as fast as I think you’d like us to work,” Mercado said. “I’m also disappointed that Blackwood West is not what we envisioned 17 years ago in that Blackwood Redevelopment plan … Sometimes the economics of what’s happening in the real world dictate what happens in the real world.”
Mercado also said that they would try to have a Triad or TNM associate come in and explain the thinking behind the plan at a later date.
Councilman Hutchinson also volunteered to review the 2021-22 budget closely with one or two other council members. The proposed budget was released on the township website on Tuesday, April 13. From here, council members will have the next month to review it before the public hearing on May 10. President Mercado has not yet decided on whether or not a subcommittee will be formed.
Business Administrator Tom Cardis explained that the initial budget is created by the mayor, council president, chief financial officer, the department head and himself before it is passed on to council. From there, both the state and council have to review it, and if there is anything that needs to be amended, they can propose an amendment at a later meeting. The state needs to approve it and there needs to be a public hearing before the proposed budget can be officially adopted.
In other news:
- The Gloucester Township Municipal Building will be open on April 26.
- Chief David Harkins noted that Ptl. Randy Pearce has returned from a year-long deployment.
- Michael Mignogne said there will be no “Field of Dreams” for the spring season. He is hopeful that perhaps in the fall or spring of 2022, they will be able to hold it.
- The Gloucester Township Baseball season has started
- Elizabeth Hunt was appointed to the Housing Authority, filling the unexpired term of Matt Elliot Wilson.
- Mercado gave a shout out to the opening of The Breakfast Nook and its local owners during closing comments.
- The municipal swimming pool is scheduled to reopen on May 29. Registration for returning members will begin April 26, and for new members on May 10.
The next council meeting will be held on April 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the Gloucester Township Municipal Building. It will also be live-streamed on YouTube.