Board of commissioners amends, officially adopts 2021 municipal budget

Residents to see slight tax increase over last year.

With a long-awaited state review completed, and a few state-mandated adjustments finalized, Haddonfield’s board of commissioners officially amended and adopted the municipal budget for calendar year 2021 at its July 19 public session .

The total appropriations, according to an amended budget document provided at the meeting, amount to $20,120,540.04. 

“As part of the budget process, we had to get approval from the state of New Jersey. There’s an office called the Division of Local Government Services. And they have to review our budgets before final approval,” explained Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough. 

“With the overload of budgets they were looking at this year, they were a little behind in that review process. So we had to wait for them to finish reviewing before we were able to adopt.”

The budget document had originally been introduced and approved during a virtual public session on April 13, with an expected total appropriations of approximately $20 million, according to then-Commissioner for Revenue and Finance Jeffrey Kasko. That represented an increase of nearly $670,000 over last year.   

At that time, Kasko revealed the uptick was due to a number of factors, including: debt-service payments, costs associated with May’s municipal election, one extra pay week during the current calendar year, an increase in trash pickup costs as part of a new contract with Waste Management, animal control expenditures and pension contribution line items.

Kasko also noted during the April meeting that a tax increase of an estimated $50 for an average assessed property value of $500,000 would be expected. McCullough confirmed that number as accurate on July 19. 

In addition, just before a May 11 public commissioners meeting, Kasko said the state’s Department of Community Affairs notified the borough that no governing bodies would be allowed to formally vote on budget approval due to a backlog in the department’s review process. The public hearing did proceed, however. 

“So as part of that review process, there were just a couple of minor things (the state) wanted us to do,” McCullough explained.

Among the changes approved at the July 19 gathering were the addition of a grant in the amount of $65,216 to the police department for the acquisition of body cameras, as well as a decrease of just over $16,000 in the tax amount for the library.  

As a prelude to budget adoption, commissioners on July 15 approved the amendment and adoption of the Partnership for Haddonfield budget. Per Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich, the organization’s revenue and expenses were $282,000. A public hearing on the partnership budget is expected to occur via Zoom at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 10.

In other news:

  • The governing body passed a resolution authorizing the borough to void the lease with Cellco Partnership (Verizon Wireless) for a cell tower on property owned by the Department of Public Works adjacent to Mountwell Park. Due to public pressure, as well as the discovery of an error on Verizon’s end in the application process for the tower, Verizon terminated the application in a letter to borough officials on March 31.
  • Commissioners also passed legislation allowing the following entities to serve the borough in the following capacities: Big Belly Solar of Needham, Massachusetts,  for a single station smart solar trash compactor on a base bid of $146,052.50;  Garden State Stump Removal LLC of Waterford, with a base bid of $22,400 for the removal of tree stalks; and Noble Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc. of Furlong, Pennsylvania. for roof drains on borough hall, thanks to a base bid of $87,745. The triumvirate also rejected bids by five entities for demolition of non-historic buildings on the Bancroft lot, and authorized the advertisement of sealed bids for the same with a deadline of Aug. 12. 
  • The commissioners also gave unanimous consent to another resolution providing authorization to sign a Professional Services Agreement with Pennoni of Haddon Heights, lasting through Dec. 31, 2021, to execute a stormwater drainage study and green infrastructure plan for Haddonfield, Audubon, Barrington and Haddon Heights, for an amount not to exceed $193,000.