MADISON, NJ — Thanks to a $1.5 million annual electric rate adjustment included in this year’s budget, residents may soon see a credit on their electric bills. The budget was passed unanimously Wednesday evening by the Madison Mayor and Council during a budget hearing at the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building.

“I’m very happy we’re going to be able to allow the community to keep another $1.5 million,” said Councilman Patrick Rowe.

The budget for fiscal year 2017 received praise from many council members, who said they were relieved that last year’s delays in passage of the budget did not carry over to this year.

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“We really crafted a good budget that allowed for things like capital improvements and also the electric dividends we’ve been talking about for so long,” Councilwoman Maureen Byrne said.

Mayor Bob Conley proclaimed the month of April as Autism Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month during Wednesday’s meeting. Peter Fifootison, a 17-year-old Jefferson, NJ resident who has autism, made a short statement highlighting the community’s duty to the disabled not only during the month of April, but also year-round.

“The community and the people must embrace and willingly help the person with the disability,” Fifootison said. “We must realize that the word ‘disability’ implies that there is an ability that has been disabled.”

“Therefore the community and town must do their part to unlock the hidden contributions to society that this person has...so they can realize their dreams and not discourage them as my family has let me dream,” he said.

Fifootison’s statement came after his mother, Antoinette, sent a letter to the borough about autism awareness.

Mayor Conley also announced the borough’s support for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, established by the National Safety Council. Madison police officers will crack down on drivers who make non-hands-free calls or text while operating their motor vehicles this month from April 1 to April 21.

The Madison Police Department received a $5,500 grant for their work this month on New Jersey’s “U Drive. U Txt. U Pay.” campaign. The New Jersey campaign is modeled after similar successful high visibility enforcement programs such as “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”