Washington Township Mayor Joann Gattinelli announced there will be no municipal tax increase this year during her annual budget address at a council meeting on March 21.
“We have continued to do more with a smaller tax bill each year,” said Gattinelli. “In 2018, Washington Township received only 19.48 percent of taxes paid by our residents. That number has steadily decreased each year, which proves that we have done more with a smaller tax levy.”
The mayor’s address touched on accomplishments in the township, including the opening of 60 new businesses, improvement of municipal and historical facilities, and the start of speed bump construction and renovation.
According to Gattinelli, the township has been able to hold down taxes by reducing insurance payments on and selling old police fleet vehicles and maintaining fiscal responsibility with its capital budget.
The township received funds this year from a $315,000 Green Acres grant that will be matched by the township, and from federal American Rescue Plan funds that will help fund multiple projects.
“I am pleased to announce that many of my goals for this administration have been accomplished, and there are even more opportunities for our community on the horizon,” said Gattinelli. “With the help of our Washington Township council, department heads, supervisors and the rest of our dedicated employees, we are well on our way to making even more improvements in 2022.”
Small-group budget meetings will be held by Business Administrator Jason Gonter, CFO Colette Bachich and Assistant CFO James Walker to address residents’ questions or ideas for the l budget. Final adoption of the financial plan will take place at an April 27 municipal meeting.
“This municipal operating budget will continue to allow the township to increase services and improve municipal facilities, in order to enhance the quality of life Washington Township residents expect and deserve,” said Gattinellli.
The mayor’s address highlighted the hard work and dedication of the township police department in the last year, and resumption of events impacted by the pandemic. The police department has continued to focus on traffic and school safety and security, as well as community caretaking.
This year will bring the return of Cops and Bobbers, the K-9 car show and Shop with a Cop, among other police events. The department also expects its New Jersey Accreditation award in the coming months and will welcome three graduating officers and a new black Labrador K-9.
“Our police department strives every single day to make sure service to the community is second to none,” Gattinelli noted. “Our chief works tirelessly to reinforce the agency mission and the community’s high expectations of professional policing.
“Our officers maintain and assure that public safety in our community remains our number-one priority.”
A promotion ceremony at the meeting was held for Det. Ryan Kelly and officer Alex DiPietro, with both promoted to sergeant in front of family and friends. Kelly started his career in 2002 as an officer on the Walt Whitman Bridge. He joined the township police in 2004 and has spent the last five years in the detective bureau with a steadfast passion for criminal investigations, attention to detail and skilled thinking.
Kelly has a master’s degree from Boston University and has specialized trianing in inerviews and interrogation, sex-crime investigations, crime prevention and fingerprinting. He is also an instructor at the police academy.
“I was surprised how much my children enjoyed the swearing in; it was an added benefit that I had not considered until it happened,” said Kelly. “Looking forward, I am excited to start this new chapter in my police career and hope I took away some of the lessons I learned from all of the excellent supervisors I have had the privilege to work with over the years.
“Between the staff at Washington Township and my father, Tom Kelly, grandfather Hugh Kelly and cousin Bill Townsend, I don’t think anyone could have had stronger role models,” he added.
DiPietro is a lifelong township resident who joined the police department in 2012 as a Special Officer. He is a certified motorcycle officer, field training officer, traffic crash reconstructionist, and member of the honor guard who most recently was assigned to the detective bureau and Office of Professional Standards.
DiPietro will join his brother, Sgt. Leo DiPietro, in the ranks of sergeant. They will be assigned to the patrol bureau and command a platoon.
“The promotion to sergeant is an amazing feeling of accomplishment and I am very excited to get started,” DiPietro said. “I am looking forward to being back on a platoon and engaging with the public on a daily basis …
“I love this town and I look forward to giving back to the community that has given so much to me.”
In other news:
- The township fire department budget failed by 13 votes. Council approved a recount and gathered with fire officials to create a more comprehensive budget in the event the plan fails a second time.
- The township shred day event will take place on April 2 from 9 a.m. to noon at the municipal building.
The next municipal meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 13, at 7 p.m.