Chatham Township Council Addresses 2024 Budget and Sustainable Development

The Chatham Township Council meeting addressed the 2024 Municipal operating budget and sustainable development, with a focus on maintaining a stable tax rate while enhancing township services and infrastructure. Discussions also included the update of the Natural Resource Inventory (NRI), public transportation for a future affordable housing development, and environmental initiatives aimed at recertifying for Sustainable Jersey.

The 2024 Municipal operating budget presentation, prepared by the finance committee, was a focal point of the meeting, highlighting the theme of “transition transformation”. The budget aimed to secure the township’s financial future by rounding out the municipal workforce, reducing the office footprint, and transitioning to cloud-based systems. Financial notables included an increased fund balance and surplus, favorable bank interest rates, and rising shared municipal core expenses, pension costs, and liability medical insurance. The budget also included appropriations for a capital improvement fund prioritizing public safety, vehicles and equipment for public works and police, and road improvements.

Tax allocation was a critical part of the discussion, with the clarification that only 16.64% of tax revenue funds township services, emphasizing the council’s limited control over the larger portion of taxes directed to the county, schools, and library. The council provided a detailed breakdown of appropriations, with the top seven budget items, including pensions, Social Security, insurance, and debt payments, seeing an increase of $282,000 compared to the previous year. The need for disciplined budgeting was underlined, with the council using approximately $3.5 million from the fund balance while aiming to increase it this year. Maintaining a fund balance within the 10% to 15% range of total expenditures was highlighted as essential, following the Township’s adopted policy and financial advisors’ recommendations.

The sewer utility budget was also discussed, with a focus on the nearly $2,000 increase in expenditures due to higher chemical costs and compliance with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations. In terms of resolutions, the council covered the budget introduction, cap bank ordinance, temporary budget appropriations, and certification of length of service award program (LOSAP) eligibility.

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Concerning sustainable development and environmental initiatives, the council tackled the need for public transportation for residents of the future affordable housing development on Southern Boulevard, which involved preparing bid specifications. The sale of land at River Road was earmarked, pending negotiations. The environmental commission’s request for a resolution reaffirming anti-idling policies and an update of the natural resources inventory was addressed, highlighting efforts to recertify for Sustainable Jersey.

The update of the Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) was another significant topic, with discussions about the process of updating it, setting funds for the environmental commission, and potentially hiring a contractor. The planning board’s involvement was discussed, with a need for a resolution to set the process and update the master plan to include changes under the NRI. Clarification was sought on the timeline for the last update of the NRI, noting the requirement for an update every 10 years.

Additional discussions included financial matters such as the authorization to bid for the water pollution control transfer switch and VFD replacement project, and the confirmation of the appointment of a building inspector. A change order for the Pine Street repaving project to resolve drainage issues was debated, as well as the purchase of two police vehicles and the repeal of an outdated ordinance related to emergency dispatch with Harding Township. The midblock crosswalks ordinance amendment was debated, with concerns over documentation and the removal of existing crosswalks. The Public Works department reported two retirements and discussed the need for resolutions for purchasing chemicals for sewer treatment plants. Efforts to secure a grant for lantern fly treatment reimbursement were acknowledged.

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Questions were raised about energy tax receipts, with council members expressing the need to investigate the increase. The NRI also prompted questions.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
Stacey Ewald
City Council Officials:
Michael Choi, Mark Lois, Jen Rowland, Marty McHugh

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