ROSELAND, NJ — The Roseland Borough Council unanimously approved the 2020 municipal budget earlier this week with an annual tax increase of less than $15 to the average homeowner.

Council President Christopher Bardi, who chairs the borough finance committee, congratulated the governing body, Borough Administrator Maureen Chumacas, and all of the borough’s department heads for their “hard work and diligence” in developing a fiscally responsible budget this year.

“[The 2020 municipal budget] continues to invest in our community and our infrastructure and maintains the services we all enjoy all while requiring a minimal municipal tax increase of less than $15 a year to the average homeowner,” he said. “This was truly a collaborative effort by all, and I'm proud of the accomplishments of this governing body.”

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The total amount to be collected for municipal use ($15,912,289.75) represents 26.2 percent of the total amount of property taxes collected by the Borough of Roseland.

Built into the municipal portion of property taxes collected is an allocation of $594,421.46 for the Roseland Public Library and a line item of $570,354.27 designated as a reserve for uncollected taxes.

The 2020 municipal budget was adopted with a .54 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.

According to the presentation during Tuesday’s council meeting, the budget still provides $4.5 million in surplus; provisions for capital equipment, renovation of playgrounds; the hiring of four new police officers; new computers for the police department; the replacement of the fire department bay floor; improvements to the bay floor of the first aid squad; street repaving; and upgrades to the water and sewer systems.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council approved multiple items that amended existing code in order to create the affordable housing district. 

Bond ordinances were passed in the amounts of approximately $1.2 million for improvements to the water and sewer utility and $249,040 to provide funds for the acquisition of equipment for the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Additionally, two resolutions were passed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One resolution authorizes Mayor James Spango to sign a reimbursement agreement under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act with Essex County in the amount of $210,608.91.

According to Spango, the allocation is determined by multiple factors that include population, number of positive cases and the number of deaths in a community. He added that the figure represents 25 percent of the borough’s expenses due to the pandemic and that the remaining 75 percent of the reimbursements would be from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding.

An award quote was also approved to Seek Scan for Fever Screening Kit for $10,975.

According to the governing body, the purpose is to have thermal readers at the entrances of the municipal buildings that would test for fevers of employees and visitors. Therefore, personnel would not need to be dedicated to performing the test, and anyone showing a temperature of 100 degrees or higher would be denied access to the building.

Spango stated that the mobile kit can be used off site as well, such as using it to test senior citizens prior to bus trips. 

Mayor and committee reports:

During his mayor’s report, Spango reminded residents that tennis courts will be reopened on Friday and that registration is required through the recreation department, as only the first and fourth courts will be open in order to enforce social-distancing measures.

Spango also announced that the Roseland Post Office has been reopened and that a decision has yet to be made on summer camp. Registration for SCRAM is still taking place.

“We will wait until the last minute to see if we can have a ‘normal’ summer,” said Spango.

Councilman Roger Freda reported that the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) currently has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment for first responders. He also announced that Roseland’s Auxiliary Police Force is back on patrol.

Councilwoman Jean Perrotti reported that the fire department has seen a significant decrease in call volume, adding that there was a total of 14 alarms in April of 2020 compared to 66 alarms in April of 2019.

Councilwoman Eileen Fishman stated that borough is still accepting donations for the relief fund and that the borough has been working in tandem with Chrill Care’s Meals on Wheels program to provide hot meals to residents who need assistance. She encouraged residents to reach out to her for further information. 

The governing body also noted that good donations are being accepted at the Caldwell Food Bank.

Any Roseland, West Caldwell or Caldwell residents requiring assistance should visit the pantry, located on Park Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Provisions are also being collected and provided by Our Lady of Sacred Sacrament located on Livingston Avenue.

The next borough caucus meeting will be held on June 2, and the next council meeting will be held on June 16.