Madison Council Meeting Addresses 2014 Budget, Road Issues

Madison Council members Astri Baillie, Benjamin Wolkowitz and Patrick Rowe review agenda. Credits: Liz Keill
Open Space Chair Melissa Honohan delivers report. Credits: Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ – Determining which roads would have priority attention in 2014 resulted in a heated discussion at Monday's Madison Borough Council meeting.

Assistant Borough Administrator James Burnet said that consolidating several road repairs would attract a larger bid. The $1.66 million allocated would cover North Street, Pine Tree Terrace, Durwood Place, Fletcher Place, Academy Road, Belmont Avenue, Vinton Road and Wilson Lane.

“These roads are long overdue,” Mayor Robert Conley said. Councilmen Patrick Rowe and Robert Catalanello said they would like to see the parking lot at the Madison Public Library included. Prospect Street was also mentioned in the discussion. Conley said, however, that that road would be eligible for state funding and should be considered later on.

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“People on these streets have been asking for help for a long time,” council member Carmela Vitale said of the proposed ordinance. “I feel very good about how this looks. We’ve let some of this go for too long.”

Councilman Ben Wolkowitz noted the Strategic Planning Committee had studied the issue and “over the last few years we have underinvested in capital improvements.” The council voted unanimously to introduce the ordinance for the designated roads.

Burnet provided an overview of the operating budget saying, “This is different from a home budget. We can’t expand the bottom line.”  Although the budget is still tentative, a projected increase in property taxes of 1.25 percent was included. Another budget meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Feb. 1, in Borough Hall.

Appropriations for 2014 show no change in services and no additional staff. Burnet said that $55 million is to be raised by taxes, with $1.6 million in reserve.

The council discussed the importance of the electric utility and the surplus generated.  “This is where the rubber hits the road,” he said.

The council also heard a report from the Open Space Committee, with proposed work on the Rosedale fields, trails and remediation of playgrounds.

“This is the most transparent, detailed report I’ve seen,” Vitale said, adding the Open Space report should be an example to other borough committees.

The council approved introduction of an ordinance for part-time, non-union salaries and offices as well as consent agenda resolutions. 

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