Collingswood Council Advances Solar Program and Debates School Funding

In a recent meeting, the Collingswood Borough Council highlighted their commitment to sustainability and education, as they advanced discussions on a solar program for low-income households and delved into debates surrounding school funding in the context of PILOT agreements. The meeting also addressed the purchase of emergency vehicles, redevelopment projects, and community safety concerns.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to the potential implementation of a solar program aimed at benefiting low-income families. The council is in preliminary stages of working with consultants to identify eligible participants and is considering a larger energy aggregation plan to purchase electrical supply with a higher rate of renewables. The solar program is expected to provide a 10% reduction in energy costs for participating households.

Alongside the solar program, the council tackled the issue of school funding and the impact of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreements. Concerns were voiced by community members about potential decreases in funding for local schools and the economic disadvantage faced by a significant percentage of Collingswood high school students. The council clarified that they do not directly control the school budget but emphasized that the schools are fully funded, and they are exploring solutions to direct revenue from PILOT agreements towards shared facilities and programs.

The council also approved the purchase of a new Spartan Cate fire truck and an ambulance, with the fire truck’s lead time extending until midsummer due to supply chain delays. These purchases are part of the 2024 Municipal budget, which was introduced and approved with a small projected increase. The budget addresses various expenses, including tree removal, salary increases, healthcare and property insurance increases, trash costs, and infrastructure investments like road improvements and lead line replacements.

Community safety was also a topic of concern, particularly in response to perceived hate crimes. The council discussed increased surveillance and held a vigil in town. The redevelopment of Parkview was noted for positive security measures and management procedures that have led to a decrease in lease incidents. The council also confirmed the appointment of Bruce Smith as a full-time member of the planning board and affirmed its civil rights policy.

Financial matters were addressed with the upgrade of Collingswood’s credit rating, which is expected to positively affect interest rates. This comes as the council completed a bond sale for the funds needed for the public work facility. These fiscal developments are poised to have a favorable impact on the borough’s financial health.

The council authorized the advertisement for leadline pit testing projects and the construction of a pocket park project on Haddon Avenue. Additionally, they appointed a redeveloper and authorized redevelopment with Aage CCF New Jersey LLC for a cannabis retail outlet.

During the public comments section, residents raised various concerns, including a desire for the council to support local businesses by addressing parking issues, particularly for seniors. There was a call for full funding of the schools and questions regarding the school district’s budget. The council engaged in a discussion about the challenges of school funding and the complexities of the funding allocation.

The council also approved the substitution of council to conduct PFAS investigation and provide litigation services, emphasizing their role in environmental stewardship. Moreover, a resident advocated for improvements to pedestrian safety near crosswalks, and the council discussed ongoing efforts to enhance road design and other measures to address this concern.

The meeting concluded with the confirmation of compliance with regulations for conducting a local examination of the 2024 annual Municipal budget and the authorization to accept federal funds and participate in the Safe and Secure Communities Grant. The council approved a refund of water sewer payments, renewed a chair service agreement, and awarded a contractor for the Safe Streets to Transit grant.

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.
Jim Maley
City Council Officials:
Morgan Robinson, Robert Lewandowski

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