In a recent Washington Town Council meeting, a significant portion of the discussion centered on the fire department’s request for an increase in the clothing allowance for several high-ranking positions, including the chief, deputy chief, and battalion chief. Battalion Chief Frank Aiello spearheaded the presentation, emphasizing the department’s history of budget underspend and the need to align the allowances with those of neighboring towns.
Aiello noted that the underspend was largely due to some firefighters not meeting the requisite number of service hours to qualify for the allowance, resulting in unspent funds being returned to the town. He assured the council that the increase would not significantly affect the following year’s financial planning. The council, while appreciating the department’s transparent approach to budget management, expressed concerns over setting a precedent that might encourage less judicious budget planning by other departments.
The council also contemplated the legal ramifications of altering fund allocations and the potential necessity for a case-by-case approval process for such reallocations. A contentious point arose around the terminology used to describe non-officer firefighters, with the council emphasizing the equal value of all firefighters. The discussion concluded with an agreement to continue deliberating on the conference agenda, exploring the possibility of removing rank specifications from the ordinance to grant the department greater flexibility in fund usage.
Residents also voiced concerns over ongoing water drainage and flooding issues on Coughlin Street and surrounding areas, urging the council to expedite the dredging and de-snagging processes to alleviate persistent flooding problems. The council acknowledged the complexity and financial burden of the necessary large-scale project, assuring residents of their commitment to finding a solution, albeit not imminently.
Traffic and parking congestion around Washington School during drop-off and pick-up times were brought to the table, with suggestions including the introduction of no-parking zones during school hours and re-grading the school’s front driveway to improve traffic flow. The council acknowledged the need for further exploration and coordination with various stakeholders, including property owners and the school board, to facilitate better traffic management and enhance safety.
The meeting also saw residents recommending the application of rumble strips on roads such as Birch Terrace and Eastfield Terrace to control speeding effectively without hindering snow removal during winter. Council members appeared receptive to the idea, with inquiries about the noise levels generated by cars passing over these strips.
In another segment, discussions revolved around various ongoing projects including road maintenance issues highlighted by Councilman Steven Casico, and the status of different road projects. Casico emphasized the need for clarity on project timelines, especially concerning the paving of segments of Ridgewood Road and addressing potholes on Allen Place.
Towards the end of the meeting, an individual questioned Mayor Peter Calamari’s authority to alter township policies regarding employee benefits, citing a specific instance of an employee receiving additional vacation time in lieu of a salary increase. The council clarified that such decisions were within their purview and documented in public records, emphasizing transparency in the process.