BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Berkeley Heights is in great shape, according to comments made by Mayor Joseph Bruno during the Township Council’s Jan. 1 reorganization meeting.

 During his State of the Township address Bruno said, “I can report to you that the state of the Township of Berkeley Heights is excellent. Fiscally, we weathered the storms of 2011 and have stayed within our budget and did not have to come back and ask for extraordinary aid or taxation as many towns have had to do… We have looked for ways to cut our expenses and raise revenue for 2012. For instance, we have just completed paving our gravel lot and will be selling an additional 30 commuter parking spots; and, as of our next meeting, we will have a tenant in the train station that will raise an additional $17,400 annually. As far as saving on expenses, we have negotiated with Millburn to do our animal control service at a saving of $22,000 annually.”

There are two new businesses in town, Bake You Crazy and Pet Supplies Plus; “current businesses are expanding and many new ones are slated to open in 2012,” he said, including a gourmet deli and a CVS drug store. There has also been interest in a yogurt store and a butcher.

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Township officials will likely meet with businesses and landlords in 2012 to determine interest in developing a Special Improvement District (SID) in the downtown area.

Bruno said, “With the establishment of an SID we are in a better position to get grants to improve the streetscape of our Main Street and make it more appealing for residents to shop and businesses to want to open. Our goal would be to have street lights and brick pavers from one end of Springfield Ave. to the other.”

Also at the meeting, Councilmen Kevin Hall and Craig Pastore were re-elected to one-year terms as council president and council vice president, respectively.

Two new council members were sworn in to three-year seats on the all-Republican council.

Councilman Robert Woodruff served as mayor for nine months in 2010 when Mayor Dave Cohen went to Trenton to run the Department of Government Employee Relations; and was again called to serve as a councilman when Bruno became mayor in 2008. This is the first time he has been elected to office.

Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley took the seat of former Councilwoman Elaine Perna, who decided not to run again after serving on the council for nine years.

Appointments unanimously approved at the meeting include:

  • The appointment of Ana Minkoff as acting township clerk for a period not to exceed one year while she completes work to obtain a registered municipal clerk certificate.
  • Michael Mitzner to a one-term term as municipal prosecutor.
  • August Santore to a one-year term as public defender.
  • Councilman Kevin Hall to a one-year term as the council’s representative on the Planning Board.
  • Robert Bachstadt to handle professional accounting services through June 30, 2012 at a fee not to exceed $100 per hour.

Two resolutions unanimously adopted relate to the late payment of tax and sewer bills. Interest on tax and sewer bills in arrears for the year 2011, and for preceding years, are fixed at the rate of eight percent per year on all amounts up to $1,500, and at 18 percent per year on amounts more than $1,500. In addition, henceforth, a yearly six percent penalty will be charged on any tax delinquency that exceeds $10,000 not paid prior to the end of the calendar year. This is in addition to any other interest and penalties charged.

Work meetings of the Township Council will be held on the second Tuesday of the month beginning Jan. 10. Official public meetings of the council will be held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the Conference and Public Meeting Room of Town Hall located at 29 Park Ave.