In a recent Englewood City Council meeting, members expressed deep concern and solidarity regarding the tragic attack in Israel, while also discussing the city’s fiscal health and key infrastructural and public safety challenges.
Following the recent attacks in Israel, which have claimed over a thousand lives and injured 2,500 individuals, Mayor Michael Wildes voiced his distress from Paris, recalling his own family’s evacuation from the nation.
The mayor shared that Englewood has taken steps to increase patrols for houses of worship in light of the attacks and highlighted various local efforts, including donations and initiatives to assist Israel.
A resolution of support for Israel was read out, condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas and asserting Englewood’s solidarity with Israel. This resolution highlighted the historical partnership between the U.S. and Israel and condemned the recent atrocities. Councilwoman Wasotsky’s efforts in pushing this resolution forward were acknowledged, and it was highlighted that flags in New Jersey, including Englewood, were flying at half-staff.
Switching gears to local matters, a discussion centered on Englewood’s 2022 audit findings presented by Mr. Gary Vinci. The city’s surplus position showed significant improvement, reaching $10.7 million, while reserves for tax appeals, terminal leave, and storm recovery also grew. These positive indicators caught the attention of Standard & Poor’s, hinting at a potential future rating upgrade. However, concerns surrounding the city’s adherence to local public contracts law took some sheen off the positive fiscal news. A recurring issue was the issuance of purchase orders after services were provided or goods purchased, with discrepancies in construction code fee calculations also raised. Most council members felt that ongoing training, while crucial, may not be the ultimate solution to these concerns.
Infrastructure and city planning were also under the microscope. The city’s proactivity in addressing potential flooding issues earned praise, with Englewood’s resilience against severe rainfall highlighted. Bob Huffman, crucial in steering Englewood’s finances and flooding solutions, detailed the city’s measures, which include partnerships with state and federal agencies.
Electrical systems within the city and the competency of the company, East-West, in handling them became a topic of concern, especially regarding potential safety implications in vital departments such as health and police. Vandalism in the Deed Street parking garage also emerged as a public safety issue, with discussions around enhancing security measures.
As the meeting wrapped up, members discussed several ordinances. Of note, Ordinance 2329, focused on properties vacant for over six months, stressed the problems posed by such properties, from drainage issues to debris accumulation. The proposed solution would require property owners and foreclosing entities to register with the city.
Proposals for a resident-friendly sidewalk repair program and clearer violation notices were discussed. The need for a city master plan to kick off by January 1st was also highlighted.
Discussions also touched on property maintenance violations, the upkeep of city sidewalks, and the responsibilities surrounding a potential dog park.