CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Borough Administrator Steve Williams announced a "discretionary spending" freeze due to the Coronavirus pandemic during the Borough of Chatham Council meeting held Monday evening.
In his report at the televised meeting, Williams warned that the financial impact of the COVID-19 virus on the municipality "could be catastrophic."
"Effective immediately, we've put a freeze on all discretionary spending here in the borough," Williams said. "Only those expenses needed to continue day-to-day operations of the borough will be approved by me."
Williams also noted that the 2020 budget will be introduced with a power-point presentation at the April 27 council meeting.
Chatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz and Williams were the only administration officials physically at the meeting with clerk Tamar Lawful, attorney James Lott, and council president Jocelyn Mathiasen, and council members Len Resto, Karen Koronkiewicz, Bob Weber, Carolyn Dempsey and Irene Treloar all participating by phone.
Mayor Kobylarz held a moment of silence for two longtime Chatham residents lost to Coronavirus-related conditions - former police captain Bill Nauta - and longtime firefighter Bernie Conlan, as well as Ken Chmura, whose death was not tied to the virus.
Nauta, in addition to his 33 years on the police force, had also been a longtime coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management for the borough. Chmura had directed the broadcasts of borough council meetings for more than nine years and was a member of the Shade Tree Commission and the Chatham Borough Historic Preservation Commission.
Mayor Kobylarz and Resto are both among the 53 volunteers who are working with the Senior Center of the Chathams to help seniors in need during the pandemic. Any seniors or people who know seniors in need of assistance should call the senior center at 973-635-4565; Resto at 201-486-1077 or Mayor Kobylarz at 510-410-2862.
"Don't suffer alone," the mayor said. "Let us know if you need help."
In other business, the council unanimously introduced two related ordinances that will affect parking on Parrott Mill Road. The first ordinance establishes a restricted "handicapped" parking space near the doctors' office on Parrott Mill Road.
The second ordinance will amend regulations to allow for parking on the east side of Parrott Mill while prohibiting parking on the west side. Currently, parking is allowed on the west side. The public hearing for both ordinances will be April 27.
During public commentary, resident Jack Drew called in to ask whether there would be an extension on the date for payment of taxes due to the Coronavirus. The answer he received was that as of now, taxes are still due on May 1.
In his report, Mayor Kobylarz reiterated the plan to hold off on any redevelopment decisions or discussions while the public is kept from physically attending meetings. The mayor also said that the borough is working on technology that will allow for a Zoom virtual meeting to be held on the 27th.