The Bogota Borough Council recently convened a tense session characterized by hard decisions and thorny debates, as members grappled with budgetary constraints while aiming to meet essential community needs. The Council contended with two key issues, primarily: a contentious proposal to lease police cars from Enterprise Fleet Management and extensive plans for refurbishment of the town’s recreation center.
The vehicle leasing proposal was met with mixed feelings. Faced with supply chain challenges that made procuring Ford models, the borough’s usual choice, impossible, the Council considered a plan by Enterprise Fleet Management to provide new Dodge Durango police cars. Although other New Jersey municipalities reportedly had positive experiences with Enterprise, the decision caused a stir within the Council. Fiscal concerns were raised, with one councilwoman questioning the financial viability of leasing cars, and the accuracy of information presented about other municipalities’ dealings with Enterprise was challenged.
A recurring theme during the discussion was public safety. Council members were torn between the urgent need to replace the police fleet and apprehensions about the financial implications. One council member underscored that “to be able to turn over six ports at the price that would be paid would just be a safety factor alone.” The projected cost for a new fully outfitted police vehicle, around $70,000, spurred talk of alternative purchasing methods and quick decisions to receive vehicles by the new year.
The Council’s budgetary woes also surfaced in deliberations over the recreational center’s refurbishment plans. A debate unfolded on whether to build a Class 5 building, which doubles as a shelter, or a regular construction. Building a Class 5 structure with a generator would pose “absolutely no problem,” according to a Council member, but the additional facilities required for a shelter, such as expanded bathrooms, would significantly increase costs.
Members questioned the allocation of funds for a full basketball court versus a shelter, highlighting the need to be financially prudent. “If you’re putting up a pillar versus steel and concrete, there are two enormously different costs,” one member noted. In an effort to stay within a tight budget, some Council members considered scaling back features of the new building and hiring additional staff judiciously.
Amid these challenging discussions, Councilwoman Mary Ellen applauded the collective effort. “We all came together yesterday…the great news was that with the idea that we’re working in a controlled budget of 8 million…we had the list that the architects were going to be working from being very respectful to the community,” she said.
Other topics of discussion included enforcing payment of a $20,000 bond from utility companies operating in the borough and a proposed ordinance to prohibit short-term rentals. Although these issues were not resolved, they serve to highlight the myriad challenges facing the Bogota Borough Council.