PISCATAWAY, NJ — Since state and local restrictions keep people from gathering in large groups, one effort in the fight to end the coronavirus pandemic, Piscataway town officials held the April 21 council meeting via a ‘Zoom’ conference phone call.

“I appreciate that members of the public who are on this call understand that we have moved this to a telephonic call,” said council president, Gabrielle Cahill about the need to meet electronically instead of in person at the municipal building.

“Fortunately, this allows them to call-in without putting themselves at any risk whatsoever,” said Cahill.

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Tuesday’s council meeting, the first held since March 10 before COVID-19 began to sweep through New Jersey saw the passage of various ordinances and the 2020 municipal budget.

The $76 million budget, a $1.7 million decrease from 2019 covers anticipated revenue and projected spending on services needed to operate Piscataway such as police and fire services, street and road maintenance, buildings and grounds, health and human services, recreation, utilities, personnel and pensions, the municipal court and other areas.

According to a chart on the township’s website where a link to the budget can be found, the municipal budget makes up 26.28% of the tax dollars collected while 15.41% goes to Middlesex County for governing services. Fire districts account for 2.3%, libraries 1.46%, and 1.29% goes to open space. The Piscataway school district gets 53.19%.

“The township tax rate had no increase in 2020 and 2019 after having been lowered in 2018 by 12.81 percent,” said officials in the web post.

Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler addressed the financial hardships some in the township may be experiencing due to job loss during the health emergency.

“We’re working very closely with the county health department as well as the state health department, and also our congressional and state delegations with regard to different grants that are going to be out there for funding,” said Wahler about possible COVID-19 relief programs.

“We’ll get that out there to the public and to business community and individual homeowners about things that are potentially going to be available with the stimulus that’s hopefully going to be out there,” said Wahler. “I suspect there’s going to be a fifth bill at some point for states and municipalities around the country because I don’t think we’re going to feel the full effects of this for at least another year to year-and-a-half financially.”

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