BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Many Bloomfield residents felt a sense of sticker-shock when opening their most recent water bill from the township.  The snafu was addressed during Monday night’s Regular Council Meeting at the Municipal Building.

Carmine Sarno, Comptroller from the Bloomfield Township Finance Department, provided an explanation about the exorbitant water bills some received, laying the blame on the water meter replacement project that was interrupted due to the pandemic.

“Because of the unexpected delay in the replacement project, some residents were sent an average use bill of $19.07 for a two-month period over the summer (when the meters couldn’t be read), and now those customers received their newest bill that was much higher, as that was a ‘catch-up’ bill,” Sarno explained.

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Because some residents received an unanticipated high bill for the most recent billing period – some as high as $500.00 - the finance department asked that the council adopt a resolution to waive interest on all outstanding bills and payments, and residents can make interest-free installment payments through December 31, 2020.

“The biggest concern and complaint I heard (from residents) was not only about the high price of the water bills, but that fact that people weren’t getting their phone calls returned and that is something that needs to be addressed, as people need their phone calls returned,” said Mayor Michael Venezia.

Township Administrator Matthew Watkins added, “we will make every effort in the future to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

In other township news, Executive Director of the Bloomfield Center Alliance Ollyn J. Lettman, provided an update as to recent initiatives and accomplishments over the past several months while navigating through the pandemic to help keep the downtown area active and vital.  Of note, new signage and flyers were created and distributed to promote the downtown area while also reminding residents about health and safety protocols.

“Our Dinner Under the Stars nights continued during the summer and that program was extended into September,” said Lettman.  “Other events included our annual Restaurant Week and (Classic Car) Cruise Nights.”

Lettman continued, “additional accomplishment included providing ongoing assistance and information to business owners regarding the challenges they are facing (due to the pandemic) so they can take advantage of the resources available to them by the state and government.   Additional heaters were purchased and provided to restaurants who offer outdoor dining, plus we added more decorative lighting in the downtown area.  We also applied for additional COVID-19 funding.”

In the upcoming weeks, the Bloomfield Center Alliance is planning Halloween activities along Washington Street, the Small Business Saturday campaign is set for Thanksgiving Weekend in November, and holiday shopping initiatives will happen in the downtown area.

“We (the BCA) are also looking at possible issues and challenges the downtown area will face in the winter months,” Lettman concluded.

All proposed ordinances introduced on first reading, and all consent resolutions, were approved.

Monday’s proceedings at the Municipal Building were held under social distancing rules and reduced seating capacity, with video livestreamed on the township’s Facebook page and WBMA-TV.

Bloomfield Township Council holds a Conference Meeting on Monday, November 9, 7:00 pm, and a Regular Meeting on Monday, November 23, 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Building.