Government

Plainfield Spending Priorities Questioned

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Plainfield Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. Credits: Bernice Paglia
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PLAINFIELD, NJ - At Plainfield’s first City Council meeting for 2018, a council member and a resident spoke out against spending choices.

After Public Safety Director Carl Riley explained the need for cleaning HVAC systems at police headquarters, Councilwoman Diane Toliver said the money - $150,000 - would be better spent on a new municipal complex.

"There are a lot of old buildings,” Toliver commented after Riley said even veteran police officers could not recall the ductwork ever being cleaned.

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"I’m not in charge of all buildings,” Riley, one of three city department heads, said.

Finance Director Ron West said the administration will continue to fund the needs of the city.

Toliver, who frequently touted her proposal last year for a new municipal complex on the former Muhlenberg hospital site, voted “no” as the measure passed, 6-1. The resolution for use of $365,000 in unexpended bond funds also covered purchase of three new police vehicles and repairs to restrooms in the police building, which also houses Municipal Court.

Resident Oscar Riba said the city should use the funds for a new street sweeper, citing citywide trash that he called his “constant complaint” over his nine years in the city. Riba said he carries extra bags when walking his dog, so he can pick up trash.

“Sometimes I come home with two or three bags,” he said.

Riba said he also takes part in volunteer cleanups across the city.

The city has an early-morning street-sweeping program through the Department of Public Works & Urban Development. In addition, Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority workers pick up trash from several shopping districts;

The City Council approved 19 legal contracts, several appointments to commissions and a raft of fiscal matters including application for a $499,689 grant to combat childhood lead exposure.

A sparse crowd attended, possibly because of storm warnings, and the meeting only took an hour. The combined agenda-fixing was the first of five set for 2018. In February, the City Council will meet on Feb. 5 for agenda-fixing and will hold the regular meeting on Feb. 12.

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