Councilman Paul Sandock wants to put a question on November’s ballot that would limit term limits for Mayor and Council. At Thursday’s monthly council meeting, Sandrock said: “I am going to solicit this body to place on the November ballot a question to approve or disapprove setting term limits for mayor and council.”
SJO emailed the Camden County Board of Elections concerning the process for having questions placed on the ballot.
Supervising Elections Clerk, Anne-Marie Manko, provided a response via email that said: “Please refer to Statute N.J.S.A. 19:37-1.1 regarding Petitions submitted by a voter to have a question placed on the ballot. The deadline to submit the question to the County Clerk’s Office is September 6, 2016.”
(Below are screenshots of the Statute taken from the New Jersey Department of Elections website.)
During the meeting, the Councilmen gave reports.
Mayor Filipek called for a reading of the minutes and Borough Clerk Chuck Sauter said: “We will be voting on the February minutes for approval.”
Following are excerpts from the Councilmen’s reports:
Councilman David Spector:
I would like to streamline our local government to make it more transparent to the residents. I believe that we believe we need to open our government to the people we serve by broadcasting our Mayor and Council meetings via the internet. It would be a good idea for our seniors and other people so they could participate in what we do.
Another item would be putting the agenda items on the Borough’s website at least 72 hours before each meeting along with actual ordinances and resolutions. The residents would know what we are voting on. We would have a clear understanding of what we are actually voting on.
Regarding the blight and foreclosed homes and homes that aren’t maintained, it is becoming burdensome for the taxpayers on two fronts. First, it is bringing down the property values. Second, it is a health hazard because of mold and rodents intruding on vacant properties. It’s important to enact Ordinances that would implement the Abandoned Properties Rehabilitation Act and also the recent law that permits towns to fine banks up to $2,500 per day if they fail to maintain these properties. This is common sense and efficient and will help the town in a lot of different ways. It will help our Borough employees and our code enforcement officials to execute their duties.
A volunteer housing commission would also help reduce expenses and complete the mission without burdening the employees.
Councilman Jim D’Angelo:
The fields are lined. The girls softball concession stand was neglected and it was redone.
Roberts Avenue playground is completed. On Kennedy Boulevard, a damaged piece was taken out and replaced. At the Rec, the original plan was to take out the basketball poles and move them to other playgrounds. Unfortunately when they were taken out, they didn’t come out as easily as they went in and they are unusable.
Councilman Steve Sauter:
Public Works has been busy. Roberts Avenue playground has been completed for a total of 256 man hours. Our in-house concrete crew recently completed the decorative paver project at VFW post 7410 and the reconstruction of the retaining wall around the corner from the monument. The driveway apron at Bellmawr Ambulance was recently reconstructed using the in-house concrete crew. This was paid for out of the ambulance crew and from Buildings and Lands. The work was done by the highway department.
The asphalt crew recently completed a project in Barrington under a shared services agreement. Weather permitting, the Sixth Avenue walking track will be paved the week of May 2 followed by the Recreation Center walking track. We are working along with the Bellmawr Park Mutual Housing, the Bellmawr Board of Education, and our Highway Department for solutions for the cars and traffic in the Bellmawr Park area to keep everyone safe.
Councilman Steve Hagerty:
Our budget has been approved by the State. It was a three cent increase on a house assessed at $168,832 or more. The auditor is here and will be auditing until June. Chief Burleigh will update the websites for Fire and EMS for statistics. Chief Burleigh finalized the FEMA paperwork for the last snowstorm. Chief Burleigh estimated that it cost us roughly about $48,000 and we are going to back 75% of that back.
Regarding police, Sgt. Joe Falcone retired. When TD Bank was robbed, Patrolmen Dean Cooney and Dave Kenney apprehended the suspect in Barrington. No one was injured and the money was recovered. Patrolman Jared Walton helped two people who were trying to commit suicide. He gave immediate help and saved two lives.
We are looking into solutions for the Bellmawr Park School situation, but the number one solution is “common courtesy.” We need that from all angles.
Mark Huff of the Water Department recently retired.
Councilman Ray Bider:
Bellmawr Hockey will be hosting a tournament that will have 52 teams. Bellmawr Hockey was awarded the tournament based on the performance last year.
On, May 28 at 10:00 a.m. the County will hold their annual Memorial Day celebration at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden and the public is invited. On the weekend of May 14, both VFW posts 7410 and 9563 we will be putting flags and markers in cemeteries. VFV Post 9563 on Essex Avenue is developing a new memorial out front and they are doing engraved bricks at $40 each and are available for purchase.
Mayor Frank Filipek:
Regarding the water towers: a water tower has to be replaced. We also need generators. It’s going to cost the Borough around $5 million for the water towers and it will be done over a five-year period. One tower has to go as soon as we get the bids. The one at Warren Avenue is only working at about 60% now. Over the years, these are things that that have to be done. Council is working on it and we are going to put it under “Capital.” When we went out for bid to paint the water tower on Bell Road, the bid came it at $900,000 just to paint it. Our water report from the State says no lead.
Business Administrator, Josh Tregear, is working with all of the departments to make sure if anyone is retiring, there will be someone to take their place. So that the right people and the right education have it and their licenses. We have hired a few people and didn’t replace a few people. Our salaries are just about the same as they were the last three years to save the taxpayers money.
All business on the agenda was passed, including the bill list, which was provided upon request.
Regarding Ordinance #03:02-16 SJO asked for clarification on the bank cap and the Borough’s Chief Financial Officer, Maria Fasulo, responded: “The 1977 budget cap law which caps the appropriation increase, requires the Director of the Division of Local Government Services to promulgate the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The COLA for 2016 budgets is calculated at 0%. The governing body may pass a COLA ordinance, increasing the appropriation cap base to 3.5%. Sheet 3b of the Borough of Bellmawr budget shows the calculation for the total appropriations within caps for 2016 which can be found on the website www.bellmawr.com.”
Regarding Resolution: #04:104-16 appointing James Burleigh as the construction official for the Borough. SJO asked for clarification on the salary and Borough Administrator, Josh Tregear, responded via email: “Ralph Jones is retiring as of May 1, and Jim Burleigh will succeed him as the Construction Official at a starting salary of $8000. Ralph Jones was at a salary of $10,300.”
Regarding Resolution #04:106-16, the employment agreement for Chief William Walsh for the period of January 1, 2016-December 31, 2019. When asked for details of the contract, Borough Clerk Chuck Sauter responded via email: “[The] Chief’s new contract [is] not yet completed, a few details pending.”
Regarding Resolution: 04:102-16 concerning the contract between the Borough and the Salem County Improvement Authority being named as a secondary site for disposal of solid waste. Superintendent of the Highway Department, Joe Ciano, was reached for clarification.
Ciano explained: “Since May, 2012, we’ve had a contract with Salem County. We would dispose our trash in a landfill in Salem County at a reduced rate that is significantly lower than what the incinerator was. In November 2015, Salem County told us they are not taking out-of- county trash, but if they did, they would charge a substantially higher rate, which was pennies less than what we are paying at the incinerator. The cost of fuel, extra man time, and wear and tear on our trucks made it a no-brainer to go to Camden.
In the meantime, Camden does not take certain types of trash. One of them is creosoted railroad ties. [Bellmawr] Hockey recently took those out and we had no way to dump that that waste. Basically, Salem County is as a back-up in case something ever happened.”
Councilman Ray Bider presented Pastor Vincent Kovlak of Bellmawr Baptist Church with a Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer, which is on Thursday, May 5. This year marks the 65th annual day of prayer. This year’s theme is “Wake Up America.” Pastor Kovlak said: “We will be meeting out front of Borough Hall at 12:20 p.m. for 20 minutes of prayer for the country, for the county and for the town.” The public is invited to attend.
Councilman Ray Bider presents a Proclamation to Pastor Vince Kovlak of Bellmawr Baptist Church.
Mayor and Council will meet next for its Caucus meeting on Thursday, May 19 at 5:00 p.m. in the conference room at Borough Hall. Their regular meeting will be on Thursday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the courtroom at Borough Hall.