Board of commissioners grants final approval to bond ordinance

Borough sets aside almost $1.5 million for capital-improvement projects.

During the final open public meeting of Neal Rochford’s tenure as Haddonfield mayor, the board of commissioners passed, upon second reading, an ordinance earmarking nearly $1.5 million for capital projects in the upcoming 2021 budget.

Per Commissioner for Revenue and Finance Jeffrey Kasko, the legislation also allows for $1.415 million to authorize the issuance of bonds and notes for the work. 

The package includes $820,000 earmarked for parking-lot upgrades in a 10-year period, $280,000 for the purchase of kiosks intended for 10 years of use; acquisition of computer equipment; vehicles for the Public Works Department;  and additional building improvements throughout town. 

“Like every year, we have to prioritize what we can fund and what’s due and what’s the most necessary,” Kasko explained. “All three of us, as well as Sharon (Borough Administrator McCullough) and our department heads have come up with this list as those things we should put into a bond ordinance to be able to issue bonds for it.”

The ordinance is scheduled to take effect 20 days after first publication following its passage on May 11.

Although capital funds have been approved, the actual 2021 budget will not be officially approved for quite some time. Just before the meeting, Kasko said the state’s Department of Community Affairs notified the borough that no governing bodies will be allowed to formally vote on budget approval due to a backlog in the department’s review process.

As he did when the borough initially introduced the budget on April 13, Kasko cited a few key facts and figures, including total appropriations of approximately $20 million that represent an increase of roughly $669,000 over last year, and an increase in the total tax levy of $11.793 million.

That means the average assessed home valued at $500,000 would see a tax increase of $50 for the year. 

“We think this is a responsible budget,” Kasko concluded. “Increases are to a minimum, other than the things which we have no choice (but) to increase. We expect this year’s budget to provide all the essential services and programs that residents expect from the borough.”

A full summary can be found by visiting: http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/departments/finance_department/index.php.

In other news:

  • Rochford, who served on the governing body from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 to the present, was cited as the titular head of borough politics since 2017. During his tenure, he acted as commissioner for all three branches: public works, revenue and finance and public safety.
  • Commissioners approved a resolution granting a bid for the 2021 roads program to Asphalt Paving Systems of Hammonton for $2,062,600. Only one other bid was received for the project, clocking in at more than $1 million over the chosen lowest bid. 
  • The governing body also awarded a bid for stump grinding services to Garden State Stump Removal LLC, of Waterford Works, for a base bid plus three alternate bids totaling $7,450.
  • Per another resolution, the commissioners authorized a written agreement between the borough and Virtua Health Inc. for its emergency services personnel to be in line with state guidelines regarding HIPAA for a period of three years, with an option to extend the contract for another two years.