Westfield Town Council Approves 2012 Budget and Sewer Fee

1c1e3a36e168bc491fe2_skibitsky_and_gildea.jpg
Mayor Andy Skibitsky and Town Administrator Jim Gildea go over details of the budget. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
1c1e3a36e168bc491fe2_skibitsky_and_gildea.jpg

WESTFIELD, NJ—At Tuesday night’s town council meeting, a hearing was held regarding a new sewer fee that Westfield home and business owners will soon be charged. For more information about that fee, see The Alternative Press article here.

“Collecting this fee will allow us to continue services at the level they are now, including police and fire,” noted Councilman Sam Della Fera, chairman of the town’s finance policy committee. A frequently asked questions page regarding the fee will soon be available at the town’s website, www.westfieldnj.gov. The ordinance creating that fee, which affects only 2012, was approved unanimously by the council. (Councilman David Haas was the only member absent from the meeting.)

Mayor Andy Skibitsky said that this is the third year in a row in which the town reduced salaries and wages, noting that this was done through attrition, thus avoiding layoffs. He thanked Town Administrator Jim Gildea for working “tirelessly” for the town of Westfield before handing Gildea the microphone to explain the proposed 2012 budget, which was approved unanimously by the council later that evening.

Sign Up for E-News

Gildea outlined the sharp decrease in revenue since 2009, from over $16 million to just over $12 million. Property taxes this year will increase just under two percent and, according to Gildea, the average home owner will likely pay $79 more in 2012 than in 2011.

He also announced that the town has applied for a SAFER grant from FEMA, which could result in the federal government paying for up to four additional firefighters’ salaries and benefits for up to two years. Recent changes in the grant process made applying for this grant more appealing to the town because there are now “no strings attached,” he explained. Westfield has also applied for a grant that could pay for up to two additional police officers.

After the presentation, two residents voiced their concern regarding the sewer fee. Jeff Bash said he felt the flat fee was unfair to those who use less water than others and he worried about the impact it would have on seniors.

Maureen Kehoe spoke of the mounting number of fees Westfield residents are paying for various reasons, and made reference to people she knew who were moving from Westfield to someplace less expensive. “The property tax burden is changing the face of Westfield,” she said.

In addition, “I’m philosophically opposed to calling a fee something that’s really a tax,” said Kehoe.

The mayor defended the fee, saying it was necessary because “there’s no more positions we can eliminate.”

“We know it’s a tax. You can call it whatever you want,” said Skibitsky. But he also said that, considering that the town only gets 17 percent of the taxes it collects, for all that residents get for that, “It’s not a bad deal.”

Gildea noted that some senior citizens are exempt from the sewer fee and that others will have the fee reduced by $25. “We’ve tried to address the senior population as best we can,” he said.

During the open discussion by citizens, one resident came to the microphone to thank the mayor and council for their hard work.

Moments later, resident Maria Carluccio questioned why people have “suddenly appeared, praising the council.”

Carluccio, Adina Enculescu and Greg Kasko regularly attend Westfield town council meetings, arguing again and again against the HAWK light and crosswalk on Central Avenue just in front of Enculescu’s home. They have complained that the system is impractical and even dangerous where it is, that Enculescu’s driveway now appears to be a road on which to turn and that the signal devalues Enculescu’s property.

“You choose to be here, and I appreciate it,” said Carluccio. What she doesn’t appreciate, she said, was how Enculescu “has been violated the way she has been violated.”

She referenced the February 14 town council meeting at which the council voted not to replace the HAWK light with a full light at the intersection despite a report that recommended that change.

Carluccio told the council that she was almost hit by a car at that crosswalk “the other day,” when two cars went through the red light. “What is it that has to happen there for all of you to be compelled to move this light?” she asked.

Regarding Enculescu, she said, “Do you understand what you’ve done to this woman’s life?” Enculescu had lived in Westfield for 30 years, she said. “All of the sudden she woke up one morning and her driveway was being ripped up.”

Carluccio accused Councilman Mark LoGrippo of representing the mayor’s will instead of his constituents’ best interests when he voted not to move the crosswalk. She also said she believed that the residents coming to meetings to side with the council’s decision were “all coached.”

Resident Lisa DiCicco approached the microphone to tell the council that when public meetings were being held regarding where the crosswalk would be placed, “The people on the corner objected.” She and others who lived in the middle of that block did not go to the meetings, she said, because they had no idea the light would be placed mid-block. “We found out when they started digging up the avenue,” said DiCicco.

“Now it’s them or us,” said DiCicco. “We’re not going to let you get away with it because we’re just as important as they are.”

The mayor later responded that he did not remember a public outcry by the residents who lived at the corner and that “to say that we put it there simply because the people at the corner fought it just isn’t accurate.”

When he approached the microphone, resident Greg Kasko suggested that the town consider placing cameras at intersections to catch drivers who run red lights and boost revenue from the resulting fines.

Kasko then argued that Mayor Skibitsky’s argument at past meetings that a mid-block crossing was preferable to one at an intersection because it had fewer “points of conflict” for pedestrians was based on data from crossings where no light existed.

Kasko asked the mayor to respond before he sat down so that he could respond to what the mayor said.

“Mr. Kasko, I’ll speak when I feel like it and you’re welcome to come back in two weeks,” Skibitsky replied.

Kasko then said he had collected data from a stretch of road about 113-feet long on Central Avenue between Cambridge and Clover that showed a spike in the average number accidents during the months since the HAWK system was put in place.

After Kasko sat down, the mayor responded. Regarding the “points of conflict” argument, he said that lowering the number of points of conflict from adjacent streets is important for pedestrians regardless of whether or not there is a light at the crossing. “We know that people run red lights,” he said.

He reminded Kasko that the recent report done regarding the crossing showed that the number of accidents near the crosswalk were consistent with the number of accidents there in the past and on similar roads.

After the council voted to pass the 2012 budget, the council went into executive session to discuss the retirement of Chief of Police John Parizeau.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Elizabeth Child Diagnosed with Flu has Died, School Superintendent Says

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ — The Elizabeth School District has reported that one student who suffered from the flu has died. 

“It is with great sadness that I must report to you that the Elizabeth School District has lost one of its own,”  Elizabeth Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer wrote in a letter to parents over the weekend. The Superintendents letter ...

Mayor Brindle’s Update

February 15, 2018

The following are highlights from the update that Mayor Shelley Brindle gave at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.

I first want to congratulate Nick Calello and David Went for their promotions to patrol officers in the Westfield Police Department. I’d also like to welcome and congratulate new Patrol Officer Fortunato Riga, who joins the police department this week upon his ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_324736565a1e77afd508_inflatbles

Mon, February 19, 11:00 AM

Westfield Area YMCA, Westfield

President's Day Jump

Giving Back Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_fadfd1c21bc636c673db_schmidt_john_01_pp

Thu, February 22, 8:30 AM

Hilton Garden Inn, Hamilton , Hamilton

Defending Your Independent Contractor & Wage & ...

Business & Finance Education Law & Justice

Carousel_image_248cea245b872fb9c722_resolve_house

Fri, February 23, 12:00 PM

Resolve, Scotch Plains

Free Teen Anxiety Group (Ages 14-17) at Resolve

Wardlaw+Hartridge Students Earn Scholarship Finalist Standing

February 17, 2018

The National Merit Scholarship Program has determined which of the 16,000 semifinalists named in September 2017 have met all requirements to advance to Finalist standing in the competition. All Finalists will be considered for National Merit Scholarships to be offered in 2018.

Wardlaw+Hartridge seniors Jennifer Guo and Suraj Chandran of Edison received their Finalist certificates from Susan ...

Westfield Police Blotter: DWI Arrest & More

February 15, 2018

February 7, 2018 10:25 p.m.

Officers Natale and Gill arrested Brian Mueller, age 55, of Westfield, NJ for driving while intoxicated pursuant to an accident investigation in the area of Mountain Avenue by Colonial Avenue. Subject was transported to headquarters, processed and released to a sober adult.

 

February 9, 2018 2:21 a.m.

Selena G. Palacios, age 22, of Westfield, NJ was ...

19 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford & Mountainside

Nineteen homes sold last week, 2/11/2018-2/18/2018, in Westfield,  Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford.*

 www.summitwestfieldhomes.com        www.NJHomeshowcase.com

www.SusanMassa.com

TOWN                  ...

How Tax Reform Impacts You

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act brings a host of changes to tax returns for 2018. Highlighted are just a few of the new rules that may impact many of our clients. Please reach out to us to find out if and how your personal situation is impacted.

For Business:

·       A flat 21% corporate tax rate for C corporations replaces the 15% - 35% graduate rate ...

Sinai or Sanctuary?

 

 

And in the beginning, G‑d was homeless, and so G‑d asked His people to set Him up with some digs. Where does it say that? Well, nowhere, actually. But it does say that G‑d instructed Moses to tell the people, “They shall make for Me a Sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

Now the question is, was G‑d really homeless? ...

Westfield Public Schools Celebrate High School and Intermediate Music Honors

Westfield High School sophomore Brooke Walden auditioned and was selected to the New Jersey All-State Wind Ensemble and Orchestra for a second straight year.  Brooke was the top scoring piccolo player and ranked third on the flute.  She will perform in February with the Wind Ensemble and in November with the Orchestra.

Walden also was among 12 WHS musicians to perform in January with ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 13, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Love Craft Beer But Hate the Tour? State Assembly Moves to Make it Easier for You to Belly Up to the Bar

Good news is a brew for New Jersey craft beer advocates. In February 2018, the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee paved the way for the introduction of Bill A2196, which would remove a current licensing rule requiring breweries and distilleries to provide a tour of their facilities before serving alcoholic beverages to consumers. Currently, breweries holding a ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7euCp86-c

Cat Found in Westfield

UPDATE: Reunited with family!

ORIGINAL POST: Cat found in Golf Edge area of Westfield. Call 908-913-0509.

Doing Well While Doing Good

The new tax law is predicted to reduce significantly the number of taxpayers who itemize deductions.  That has some concerned about charitable giving. There are ways for taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to give to charity and still receive some tax benefits.

Give from your IRA. Those aged 70-1/2 or older, who must take required minimum distributions from retirement accounts, can ...

Imagine a Chatham Toboggan Ride from the Top of Fairmount Avenue to Main Street

Did you know….
there was a time when Chatham kids could ice skate from downtown Chatham all the way to Florham Park? And that a toboggan ride could last from the top of Fairmount Avenue down to Main Street and beyond?

Those were the days!

This was back in the early to mid-1900s. The Passaic River meandered through grassy meadows and woods on the north side of Chatham. The marshy ...

Obituaries

Kathleen Marie Christian (nee Helmstetter), age 73 of Surf City, NJ, passed away peacefully at home ...
Read more

Nutley Schools Closed Friday Following Security Threat

February 16, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ — The Nutley Police Department is currently investigating a video posted to Instagram that suggested a possible threat to schools. Dr. Julie Glazer, Nutley Superintendent of Schools, made the decision late Thursday night to close Nutley schools on Friday as a safety precaution. 

The Nutley Police Department reports they have spoken to the individual ...