Berkeley Heights Municipal Complex Price Tag Up $4 Million; Tax Bite Drops $75

Average Tax Impact Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Ratable Base Change Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Interested residents listen to presentation on the Municipal Complex. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Council members and mayor. Credits: Barbara Rybolt

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Municipal Complex Project now has a redeveloper, a $32 million price tag and with it, a different impact on municipal taxes. Rather than costing taxpayers $78 more in municipal taxes a year, it will cost owners of the average assessed home $3. If all goes as planned, site work will begin on the project in August, with fencing going up around the site and shovels in the ground.

As of the end of the Tuesday, June 26, meeting, the redeveloper is Epic Management, Inc., Piscataway. The council authorized the conditional designation of Epic Management based on the unanimous recommendation of the Selection Committee during a May 22 Executive Session.  The agreed upon Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of the project is $26,828,574.

The cost of the total project is now estimated to be $32 million, which reflects changes in prices for a slightly larger than originally proposed salt dome –  an increase of $45,000; site-work, abatement and demolition, which increased $2,375,000 and the cost of the municipal building, which increased $2.5 million. All of these are included in the GMP.

Sign Up for E-News

The DPW facility renovations have been dropped, a savings of $1,545,000; costs of equipment, furniture, moving and data/telecommunications increased $1.1 million and soft costs and contingency costs dropped $475,000.  

Township Planner Mike Mistretta described the increases. Storm water management is responsible for about $1 million in additional costs, and will, once the project is done, not be visible, as most of it will be underground. Water will be collected and directed to a large area of wetlands on the property, where it will be absorbed. In the end, though, the majority of the additional costs have come because the economy has improved, a lot of building projects are being undertaken in New Jersey.

The higher cost estimate means “the township is required by state law to appropriate the total estimated project cost in order to certify available funds for the two projects,” according to a handout on the estimated tax impact of the project prepared by CFO Michel Marceau. That does not mean, however the township is required to fund the entire project.

Residents expressed concerns about the increased cost of the project and many asked whether the money from the sale of the Hamilton Avenue property will be used to pay off bonds. The mayor and council asked Township Attorney Joe Sordillo to amend the bond ordinance before the vote was taken. Sordillo dictated a clause to be added to the ordinance requiring any proceeds from the sale of the Hamilton Avenue property be used for either direct payment of the cost of the improvement or pay down of the bonds.

According to Marceau’s presentation on the “Estimated Tax Impact” of the increased $4 million appropriation and increase in Bond Anticipation Notes interest rates, the “anticipated average annual debt service decreased by about $351,713.” Annual tax revenues from Toll Brothers Hamilton Avenue development and other redeveloper PILOT payments have gone up to $1,124,420, which results in the $3 per year tax increase for owners of the average assessed home.

A full copy of Marceau’s financial analysis should be found on the township’s website. The ordinance, and the meeting agenda, can be found here

Following almost four hours of discussion, the council returned to its regular agenda. First members voted on a resolution conditional designation of a developer -- Epic. Councilwoman Susan Poage voted "No." Councilman Mike D'Aquila was not present and the remained of the council voted yes. 

Then council members voted to introduce a bond ordinance providing “a supplemental appropriation of $4 million for aid to the municipal complex redevelopment project and authorize the issuance of $4 million in bonds or notes by the township.” Councilwoman Poage again voted against the introduction of the ordinance.

The public hearing on the ordinance will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, in Town Hall, 29 Park Ave.

The township’s Bond Counsel Matt Jessup laid out a timeline of the next steps in the process. Each of the dates is “anticipated.”

1.       Complete the negotiation of the Redevelopment Agreement – July  6;

2.       Council approves Redevelopment Agreement – July 10;

3.       Adopt Supplemental Bond Ordinance – July 10;

4.       Execute Redevelopment Agreement – July 11;

5.       Redeveloper begins construction – during August.

See the entire meeting, on LiveStream here, including resident’s questions. The video is not yet on the site, but should be soon. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Beneficiary Forms - As Important as Your Will

As you plan for the future, don’t leave out one of the most overlooked must-do’s: naming the beneficiaries of your retirement assets. Updating your beneficiary forms ensures that the legacy you worked so hard to build will be distributed correctly. Don’t delay -- the designations on your beneficiary forms supersede those stated in your Will. 

Try answering the ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July 18, 2018

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Union County College Foundation’s 3rd “Close the Gap” Campaign Surpasses Goal

CRANFORD, NJ – With over 150 guests and volunteers in attendance, the Union County College Foundation surpassed their goal and raised nearly $55,000 at their 3rd Annual Close the Gap Campaign cocktail reception. Held on July 11, in the Richel Student Commons at the College’s Cranford campus, this campaign was developed by a small group of dedicated community volunteers to support the ...

ReNew Salon and Spa Welcomes Senior Stylist Joan Mormilo

GILLETTE, NJ - ReNew Salon and Spa welcomes Senior Stylist Joan Mormilo to their staff. Mormilo brings with her over 20 years of excellent customer service in the salon and spa industry.

She has extensive product knowledge, focuses on keeping up-to-date on industry standards and practices, believes in mentoring young stylists, and is a team player who strives to ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 18, 10:30 AM

Berkeley Heights Public Library, Berkeley Heights

Story Time & Craft with DIVA DELORES AND THE ...



Wed, July 18, 1:30 PM

Trailside Nature & Science Center, MountainsidE

Trailside’s Annual Summer Wednesday Matinee ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Wed, July 18, 6:00 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Senior Summer BBQ at the Summit YMCA

Food & Drink

Wed, July 18, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Four to Feature Brahms

Arts & Entertainment


Wed, July 18, 7:30 PM

Memorial Park, Berkeley Heights

2018 Berkeley Heights Summer Concert Series

Arts & Entertainment

Special June Episode of 'Berkeley Heights Here & Now' Features 6th Annual Street Fair

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee (BHCC) today announced a special edition of Berkeley Heights Here & Now is available on the Township website,


The special episode features the 6th Annual Berkeley Heights Street Fair held on June 24 and includes onsite interviews with attending residents/visitors, event ...

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Women Have Special Financial Needs That Advisors Overlook

Women have special financial needs that advisors overlook in two ways: 1) advisors don’t always acknowledge the different planning needs women have and 2) advisors don’t always communicate well with female clients – especially if the client comes to a meeting with her husband. It’s very common for a male advisor to spend much or most of the face time in meetings talking to ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...