BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ While the township is setting aside funds in a $4.9 million capital projects ordinance set for final consideration on Tuesday night, that doesn't mean that all of the budgeted money will actually be spent in a year where finances and revenues remain uncertain. [Update: The meeting at which the ordinance was scheduled to come up was canceled on Tuesday, and has not yet been rescheduled.]
The Bernards Township website, bernards.org, was also down prior to the scheduled meeting.
Township Chief Financial Officer Sean McCarthy previously has said that earmarking the funds in a proposed $4.9 million plan for long-term projects around the township does not obligate the township to spend the money if funds are needed for other purposes this year. The same applies for the operating budget this year, McCarthy affirmed before the $41.9-million municipal budget was approved on April 28.
The capital improvements ordinance is on the agenda for a public hearing and a second and final vote at Tuesday's "virtual" Township Committee meeting, set for 8 p.m., and accessible to the public both online and via television.
The proposed $4.9 million ordinance to set aside already budgeted funds for long-term capital projects, including engineering projects that would include road improvements and reconstruction, sidewalk and drainage improvements and work on pedestrian bridges and paths.
The second largest long-term investment in the capital improvement ordinance would be $445,000 for Department of Public Works projects and equipment, including roadway repairs, guardrail repair and replacement, small equipment, and more.
The proposed ordinance also would budget $288,785 for the purchase of various emergency vehicles and equipment for the volunteer Basking Ridge Fire Company, $245,000 for repairs and improvements to the following township owned buildings: the engineering services building, the health department, police headquarters, the municipal budget and a number of parks and recreation facilities.
While the capital improvement and other expenditures are budgeted and planned, township officials have also expressed concern that more taxpayers than usual will be delinquent in meeting their tax payments as a result of financial upheavals caused by this spring's shutdown to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The budget approved by the Township Committee on April 28 prioritizes keeping "our municipal operations funded so there is no interruption of services," McCarthy said.
The approved municipal budget will raise the municipal tax portion of local property taxes by $26.36 on the "average" home assessed at $611,873. The municipal portion contributes less than 15 percent of the total municipal tax bill paid each year by township taxpayers.
The meeting is again planned to be held via Zoom video conferencing, and to be televised and streamed live online. The public can submit comments or questions on agenda topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting, which will display Zoom views of Township Committee members and officials, is set to be televised on Optimum/Cablevision channel 15, Verizon FiOS channel 35, and to be livestreamed on the Bernards Township website.