CHATHAM, NJ - The demand for services keeps going up and the revenues keep declining. That has put the governing body and administration for the Borough of Chatham in a "box."
But Chatham Borough still maintains an "AAA" rating from Moody's because it has a "Strategic Financial Management Plan" that takes care of infrastructure and capital outlay so that debt is kept at a minimum and taxes stay in check.
Council member Jim Lonergan gave a power-point presentation on Monday night at the Borough of Chatham Council meeting, outlining a 10-year strategic plan that Mayor Bruce Harris says has been in the works since 2012.
"The goal is to change the financial planning model from an annual to a multi-year process," Lonergan said. "We want to avoid kicking the can down the road. You can't ignore things that are in disrepair because, sooner or later, you're going to have to pay for them."
In the presentation, Lonergan gave some goals that the 10-year plan will help the borough reach:
1-Reduce capital spending in the next five years from $2 million annually to $1 million.
2-Reduce total debt by 31 percent over a 10-year period by $4.7 million to approximately $11 million.
Chatham's funds 60 percent of its municipal budget through property taxes, a figure that Lonergan pointed out was the second-lowest among surrounding towns.
"An example of making good use of capital outlay was the money spent on the municipal pool," Lonergan said. "It used to bring in $18,000 annually. This past year, the revenue was $68,000, which is taking care of paying for the expenditure."
An ordinance to increase the water rates by about three percent was introduced by the council. The public hearing will be held Feb. 10.
The current rate is $4.16 per 100 cubic feet. The ordinance would raise it to $4.28 on April 1, 2014 and then to $4.41 for April 1, 2015.
A resolution raising parking fees at the train station was approved by the council. Effective Jan. 28, 2014. The Smart Card fee for borough residents has gone up to $5.00.
The daily permit fee for cash or credit card will be $5.50 for an 11-hour period, starting at 5 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. No fees will be charged after 4 p.m., nor on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.
In other business, Vince DeNave, borough engineer gave an update of the plans to renovate the Post Office Plaza. DeNave originally came up with a $250,000 figure, but said in his report on Monday that it could be done for $100,000.
"I'm working with JCP&L to increase the lighting in the area for a monthly charge," DeNave said.
DeNave said that, once approved, it would take one night to repave the entire lot, which includes the little-used lot near Bowers Lane. Improved lighting and signage will help non-residents make better use of the lot, according to DeNave.
The borough council passed a resolution naming May 31, 2014, as The American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life Day." There will be an organizational meeting for those wishing to help plan the event set for 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Library of the Chathams.