BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – In its continuing pursuit to secede from Union County, the Township Council had Tax Assessor Robert Edgar go over some of the important numbers during the council’s Tuesday, Oct. 9 meeting: The Berkeley Heights population is 13,183. The total assessed value of real estate in Berkeley Heights is $1,781,063,618. The tax rate is $3.59 per $100 of assessed value. The ratio of assessed value to market value is 52.67 percent.
County taxes including county open space taxes are $14,603,529, making the total tax paid to Union County per capita $1,107.75, second only to Summit.

The information will be used to determine whether or not to do a nonbinding referendum to leave Union County and join one of the contiguous counties – Morris or Somerset - in November 2013.

Councilman Robert Woodruff, who is leading the charge, said, “We’re looking at the schools, too.” And, noted he plans to have some information for the public in regard to the proposed secession at every meeting.

Mayor Joseph Bruno noted, “It’s going up every single year and we don’t want to continue going forward with that.”

Also at the meeting, Caryl Hanneman was proclaimed 2011 Person of the Year for the Berkeley Heights senior citizens organization. “I didn’t do it all myself,” she said.

Attorney Thomas Scrivo gave a presentation to the council on the form of government in Berkeley Heights, mayor-council-administrator. The government was changed from a Township Committee six years ago, he said.

In other business:

  • An ordinance making the Division of Wastewater Treatment a part of the township’s Office of Engineering was adopted. Councilman Edward Delia voted against the measure saying, “I think the engineer has more than enough to do already.”
  • A second ordinance establishing escrow fee requirements for interpretation requests and appeals to the township Zoning Board of Adjustment was introduced.

    The price for each would be $1,000. Bruno said this ordinance was requested by the zoning board. The public hearing will be on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
  • Delia suggested making the current pay to play ordinance more stringent, extending the period of time before and after election that a campaign contribution can be made; and lowering the amount allowed from $300 to something less. He did not make a specific proposal and no one on the council took up the cause.
  • Township Administrator Amey Upchurch said, “We have the global connect emergency notification system set up, “ and operative. There is a portal on the Website for residents to enter alternative telephone numbers.

    She added the township chipping program is on schedule.
  • Bruno requested citizens to keep leaves out of any storm drains that may be in front of their homes.