WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The West Caldwell Township Council unanimously voted to approve the 2019 municipal budget and tax resolution during Tuesday’s meeting. The tax rate increase to the average home assessed at $448,000 is $71.34 annually, or $17.84 per quarter.

The amount to be raised by taxation for municipal and library costs is $13,928,017.72. The newly approved tax rate will be $0.615 per $100 of assessed valuations, compared with the 2018 tax rate of $0.602, according to Tuesday’s presentation, indicating a municipal tax rate increase of $0.013.

The township saw an increase of new ratables from new construction and additions valued at $8,843,000 that provided an increase in revenue of $49,966. The municipal tax represents approximately 22.36 percent of the property tax bill.

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Council President Joseph Cecere thanked the township’s department heads and Chief Financial Officer Nikole Baltycki for “all of their hard work on the budget.”

“It is our goal to keep our town affordable for all of our residents,” said Cecere.

In addition to thanking the administration for presenting a “fiscally responsible budget," Councilman Stanley Hladik also stated that he was “proud of this council’s commitment to keeping up with our infrastructure” after the governing body passed four ordinances on first reading that all support infrastructure maintenance.

Ordinance No. 1815 seeks to appropriate $892,000 and authorize the issuance of $847,000 in bonds to improvements—including, but not limited to, the reconstruction of Fairfield Avenue and Ravine Avenue. 

Ordinance 1816 provides for various capital improvements appropriating $3,575,000 and authorizing the issuance of $3,395,800 in bonds for enhancements to the fire department’s equipment, improvements to the fire house, acquisition of computer hardware and software, reconstruction and curbing of Hillside and Waverly Place, Parkview drainage and the acquisition and installation of a traffic light at Central Avenue, Washington Avenue and Stonybrook Road.

Other items include Forest Avenue sewer lining, department of public works equipment and the installation of hand dryers for the police department and town hall restrooms, upgrades to the heat and air-condition tracking systems at the police department and the replacement of the roof at the Crain House. The bond will also provide for the installation and acquisition for equipment for the Francisco Park playground, a batting cage and scoreboard at Memorial Park, netting at Kiwanis Oval and artificial turf at Harrison School field.

Ordinance No. 1817 seeks to appropriate $1,271,250 and issue a bond in the amount of $1,207,600 for water improvements that include valve replacements, telemetry system upgrades and water-main replacements on Sanford, Stonybrook Road and Ravine Avenue.

Ordinance No. 1818 appropriates $90,000 and issuance of a bond in the amount of $85,500 for upgrades to the Cedar Street and Westville pools. Plans to sandblast and seem repair, Cedar Street pool fencing and the acquisition of and installation of pool filters. 

The four ordinances will be voted on second readings during the next township council meeting.

Other committee reports and announcements:

Hladik announced that the new traffic light by Washington Elementary is expected to be installed in the early fall. He also urged his colleagues to consider the possibility of turning Pleasant Avenue into a one-way street during pick-up and drop-off of students. He noted that Police Chief Gerard Paris would make an official recommendation in response to this proposal.

When Councilman Michael Docteroff announced that the community pools are ready to go for the summer, Hladik suggested that the pools open during Memorial Day Weekend since the forecast is favorable and the schools are closed on Friday. Councilwoman Kathy Canale, liaison to the department of recreation, responded that she would suggest that the committee open one of the pools later this week.

Canale also stated that the township’s Memorial Day parade is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 a.m. on Forest Avenue. 

In response to a previous request from Mayor Joseph Tempesta for greater consideration of “America’s greatest generation” by enhancing opportunities for senior recreational choices, Canale also announced that a trip to the Brownstone is currently in the works. More activities at the library have also been scheduled and an end-of-the-year luncheon is planned for June 19 at Forte’s. 

Councilman Michael Crudele asked all to take a moment this Memorial Day and remember what the holiday is in observance of. 

“We need to take a moment from festivities and remember why we are taking the day off,” said Crudele.

He also thanked Mary Cunningham from James Caldwell High School for bringing attention to the fact that pamphlets at ShopRite extolling the “benefits of marijuana” were brought to Sunrise ShopRite’s owners. The owners saw to it that the pamphlets were removed and stated that a third-party vendor provides the pamphlets to the store.

Township Clerk Mary Donovan informed the public that polls will be open between 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. for the primary election that will be held on June 4.

On June 12 at 7 p.m., the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders will hold its meeting at West Caldwell’s council chambers. Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting to address the freeholders on any issues, such as mosquito control, traffic on county roads, open space funds, etc.

Additionally, Camp Wyanokie will hold its Annual Family Day on June 15. The cost to attend is $5 per person, which includes breakfast, lunch, a fishing derby, pony rides and a petting zoo. 

The next township council meeting will be held on June 11.