During the first public comment portion of the recent Gloucester Township Council meeting on Nov. 9, resident Paul Krug questioned the need for a resolution to advertise bids on a seven ton dirt roller for the Department of Public Works.
Krug wanted to know whether the department already has a dirt roller: It doesn’t. But Business Administrator Tom Cardis explained that a roller would be used on unpaved roads for more compaction and less recurrence of potholes, as well as on athletic fields, to help prevent injury and help playability.
“It definitely seems like there will be a positive use for this,” Cardis said.
Krug suggested the township consider renting instead of buying a dirt roller. The proposed resolution notes that the township is required to advertise bids for items that cost more than $44,000.
“Just looking at rental companies for equipment like this, the highest I was able to find was a monthly rate of $4,000,” Krug said. “If public works planned to have this piece of equipment for one month … we could have 11 years of rental before we hit this particular number.
“In addition to that,” he added, “we wouldn’t have to assume the repair and upkeep costs of this piece of machinery.”
Another resident at the meeting suggested having a shared-services agreement with other towns to maximize the use of a roller. Councilwoman Tracey Trotto expressed her concern that athletic fields could not all be done in one month, and that the township wouldn’t be able to shut them down because they’re in use year round.
Council President Orlando Mercado said he would consider the idea of shared services, depending on results of the bid advertisement.
Resident Sam Sweet asked what the line of thinking was for ordinance 21-13, which establishes salary ranges for township employees and officers for next year, beginning Jan. 1. He noted that some salaries increased 5 percent and others increased 44 percent, and pointed out that while the minimum wage for certain positions is now at $12, the state minimum wage will be increased to $13 beginning the first of the year.
Cardis reiterated that the salary amounts were in range; that a $13 salary is included within that range; and that the amounts were recommended to council after a meeting with Mayor David Mayer, administrators and the human resources department.
Mercado explained that he also inquired about how the minimum-wage increase would impact the numbers.
“This is only the first reading,” he noted. “We may be able to adjust or amend, but I’m fully aware of the minimum wage increasing.”
Second reading of the advertising resolution will be at the next council meeting.
During the second public comment portion of the Nov. 9 session, resident Brian Burns followed up on the purchasing and preservation of properties owned by Dottie Murray and Helen Hayes for open space. Solicitor David Carlamere said the agreement offer was sent and is probably on its way.
“As I mentioned last time I was here, Gloucester Township has saved less than 6 percent [of its land] for geographical open space,” Burns explained. “And even that 6 percent — a lot of it is athletic fields and playgrounds, which is not land left to be explored or left to nature.”
Burns encouraged more involvement with the land preservation effort. Sweet followed up on why officials are working with the township’s Economic Development Corporation when its charter has been revoked.
According to the township website, “The EDC oversees an aggressive economic development program and strives to improve the economic climate in the township by attracting new businesses and helping existing businesses expand.”
Carlamere explained that the corporation had its charter revoked for failing to file annual reports from 2011 and 2012, but if it does so, the charter can be reinstated.
Sweet also asked about the possibility of making EDC meeting minutes available, since the township pays community development consultants Triad Associates to attend sessions that involve economic development and prepare minutes.
Carlamere noted that because the EDC is not a government agency, it is not subject to the Open Public Records Act that requires minutes to be made public. Residents have asked since at least August about attending EDC meetings and or getting more information on what transpires.
The next council meeting will be Monday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gloucester Township municipal building. It will also be recorded and livestreamed.