FLEMINGTON, NJ - Flemington OEM Coordinator Brian McNally led off the borough council meeting on Monday with an announcement that a joint Hunterdon/Somerset County coronavirus testing site has been established at Raritan Valley Community College.
The testing dates currently on the schedule are April 16, 17 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., however McNally said those dates are subject to change. Additional dates will be offered based on availability of test kits and PPE.
Updates can be found at www.co.somerset.nj.us/covid19status.
The drive thru testing will be by appointment only. Individuals must arrive by car at the testing site and provide a written doctor’s authorization and show proof of residency, such as a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification.
Testing is free of charge and only available to county residents, ages 5 and older, who are exhibiting symptoms, such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Pre- registration is required.
Residents can register starting April 14, after 9 a.m., by visiting https://somerset-hunterdon.adlabscovidtest.com or those without online access can call 908-237-7150.
In other news, McNally warned residents of an uptick in phone scams. He said there have been numerous reports of calls relating to the stimulus checks, with scammers calling and asking for information, such as a bank account number, that they say is needed so they can send out checks.
“The federal government will not call you on the telephone asking for information,” he said.
Additionally, McNally announced that a new reporting tool has been added to the borough website.
“We’ve gotten mixed reviews about it,” he said.
The reporting tool was added because the 9-1-1 center phone lines were overloaded, McNally said.
The new reporting portal should be used to alert local authorities about large gatherings, such as parties or group sports, which constitute “risky behavior.” He added a family going for a walk does not fall into that category.
McNally also said the site can be used to report businesses that are not following social distancing guidelines.
The OEM Coordinator reported that police call outs have been higher than usual, with most of the issues involving domestic disputes, drug overdoses and thefts. Conversely, there have been fewer calls about automobile accidents and white-collar crimes.
“So everything is kind of balancing out right now,” he said.
The council did not introduce the 2020 budget as planned.
“The budget has been pushed back, but should be introduced on April 27,” said council president Caitlin Giles-McCormick. “We had just finished our draft to introduce when the COVID-19 concerns really started to pick up. We've done some review on how we can adapt to the crisis, but want to make sure we have all our t's crossed before we introduce. Our temporary budget will still serve us for now.”
Mayor Betsy Driver added that they are going through the budget with a “fine tooth comb,” looking for areas that can be trimmed. There are also talks going on with the unions about possible concessions.
The council did take action at the meeting to postpone borough water and sewer payments, extending the 10-grace period payment to 30 days.
During that 30-day period, no late fees will be assessed.
The borough utility bills are staggered and go out monthly, therefore the 30-day grace period extends from the payment due date. The bills can be paid by dropping a check off at borough hall or paying online, though there is an extra fee to cover credit card charges for online payments.
However, one of the heftiest bills that New Jersey homeowners face quarterly are property taxes. The decision to delay that due date, which is coming up quickly on May 1, is set by the state.
The mayor explained that she is awaiting word about property taxes out of Trenton.
“I’m watching cautiously,” she told the council.
While there has been discussion at the state level about moving the due date to July, Gov. Phil Murphy has been reluctant to take that step. On March 14, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, introduced a bill that, among other things, would defer property tax payments, but the bill has yet to move forward.
The state is “starved for cash,” Driver stated at the council meeting, leaving little doubt that come May 1 those payments likely will be due on schedule.