CLARK, NJ – Three refund resolutions - two tax refunds and one fee overpayment - were approved during the December meeting of the Clark Township Council.
The largest is a settlement with Racer Trust regarding the Hyatt Hills Golf Complex. Racer Trust is the organization charged with selling properties formerly owned by General Motors. A special council meeting was held in November to discuss this issue. The evening's resolution formalized the settlement.
The resolution authorized the tax collector to refund $840,459.89 and credit $91,562.31 as authorized by the tax court of New Jersey. Mayor Sal Bonaccorso explained the history of this settlement.
“We’ve been negotiating this out for two to three years roughly,” said Bonaccorso. “This is a whopping hit to the 2017 budget. It’s a lot of money, we have to pay it, there’s not a way around it. We negotiated very hard. For 12 years…they were paying us more than they should have, quite honestly…and now the credit card bill came in the mail.”
The second refund was for overpayment of taxes in the amount of $41,676.01 and the third was for overpayment of sewer fees in the amount of $112.50.
“Our budget problems will never be caused by spending,” assured Bonaccorso. “We are going to button up real tight. We are going to do everything we can folks, to offset this as much as humanly possible.”
During his report, Bonaccorso reported leaf pickup was completed by the Department of Public Works after making over 20 rounds throughout the town. They will make a few more passes for anyone who missed the pickup dates.
“It’s a great job by our DPW,” said Bonaccorso.
Bonaccorso shared a story from a resident whose car was covering the pile of leave in front of his house. The resident saw the street sweeper up the street, apologized and asked if the sweeper could go back around to pick up the leaf pile.
“The [DPW worker] said absolutely and turned back around and cleaned up that pile of leaves,” said Bonaccorso. “I thought that was very nice and very considerate of one of our men.”
Councilwoman Angel Albanese reminded the public of the various activities happening at the library. She thanked library trustee Natalie Belverio for her 10 years of service.
“Prior to that she was the president of the Friends of the Library. Thank you, Natalie, for your many years of service. She was always available,” Albanese said.
Albanese also announced that the Clark Library’s children’s librarian, Eileen Smith, is relocating. “We will miss Eileen," she said. "I know that many of the families really got to know Eileen Smith and really loved all the children’s programs.” The library is currently in discussion of how to fill that role.
Albanese went on to express her sympathies and give her condolences to the family of former library director Meg Kolaya who passed away this past month.
“She was one of the best library directors we had; one of the best library directors in the state,” said Albanese. “She brought a lot of new technology to the library which was so important in a time of change.”
Councilman Al Barr reminded the public, on behalf of the fire chief, to be sure that all snow is cleared away from fire hydrants on their property during the winter season.
“It could be the difference between an acceptable situation and a very bad situation,” said Barr.
In regards to the snow, Councilman Frank Mazzarella added that residents should not put snow from driveways or sidewalks onto the roadway or park vehicles on the street during a snow storm.
“This makes it a difficult task for our public works personnel to plow the road. We want to plow it from curb to curb,” said Mazzarella. He also asked that residents remove basketball nets from the side of the road as they also cause issues for plows as well as street sweepers.
The Office of Emergency Management “has submitted additional data to FEMA contractors for closeout procedures for Superstorm Sandy,” reported Councilman at larger Patrick O’Connor. He added that hopefully this is the final step so that the town can receive any final funds that they are entitled to.
Councilman invited residents to sign up for the Recreation Departments winter programs by contacting Ralph Bernardo. There are also two upcoming events in January sponsored by the Recreation Department: Clark Night at the Prudential Center and Clark Family Skate Night.
Councilman Brian Toal reported that the Prescott Turn project is now complete.
“To the residents of Prescott Turn, thank you for your patience and your involvement,” said Toal. “Also, if you haven’t noticed Madison Hill Bridge is under construction. I just want to stress caution when you are driving through there…please slow down on the curve.”
During the public comments, Steve Vorrius of Street Light Mission thanked the council and people of Clark for their help with Christmas celebration on Dec. 11. He thanked the Clark Kiwanis Club and Arthur L. Johnson Key Club for their service during for the event, which hosted 320 guests, 163 of which were children. The guests received a four-course meal and each child left with a goody bag and a toy for Christmas, he said.
“I’d like to thank the Mayor and town council for individually and collectively as a team for sponsoring a table,” Vorrius said. “I’d like to thank town council president Steve Hund, his wife Cara and his two boys Cameron and Brandon…they were at the event and served…so thank you again.”
Clark Police Chief Pedro Matos thanked everyone who rallied around police officer Antonio Manata and his family after their home was destroyed in a fire.
“I just want to start by thanking everyone here and everyone in town, all the residents, who came out to support the Manata family,” said Matos. “It’s truly representative of what it’s like to live in Clark.”
Before the meeting adjourned, the mayor and council all took turns thanking Council President Steven Hund for his service this past year.
“I’d like to thank Mayor Bonaccorso, Mr. Laezza, the town of Clark and council,” Hund said. "I learned quite a bit from each and every one of you during the course of the year. It was a pleasure to serve the town as president of the council.”
The council will next meet on New Year's Day at noon for the township's annual reorganization meeting. Bonaccorso will deliver his "state of the township" address and formalize appointments to boards and commissions.