Madison Borough Council Approves Electric Senior Bus Plan

The Madison Borough Council recently convened to address a range of topics impacting the community, with the most development involving the planned replacement of the senior citizen bus. The council detailed their decision to apply for a grant under the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s NJD Sto program, which provides funds to offset the cost difference between electric and traditional gas or diesel-powered buses. The grant amount allocated for this purpose is $155,000 for smaller buses and $160,000 for larger ones. The council’s determination to opt for an electric bus over a gas-powered vehicle is driven by the environmental benefits and long-term cost savings due to lower fuel and maintenance expenses. The council is considering the Ford electric Transit chassis as the most viable option, citing the manufacturer’s warranty and reliability, despite concerns about the size and comfort of the vehicle. The council is also in the process of seeking a sponsor to assist with the financial burden, with plans to finalize the order soon after the budget is approved.

Furthermore, the council discussed the receipt of $4.1 million in federal grant funding dedicated to the preservation of the Drew Forest, which stands as a environmental and recreational asset for the community. This funding is part of an unprecedented total of $8,838,851 in grants awarded to the borough, underlining the council’s successful efforts in securing external funds for vital projects.

Another important item on the agenda was the council’s engagement with the borough’s financial planning, particularly in relation to the upcoming budget. The council is working within the framework of the 2014 strategic planning guidelines. This careful financial management also involves the consideration of the borough taking over EMT services to offer as an ambulance service, fully funding the MRC carport, and planning for future sustainable projects. During the discussions, concerns about affordable housing obligations and rising electricity costs in 2025 were voiced, as well as the need for prudent allocation of federal government revenue.

The council also debated the potential funding for capital improvement projects, which could involve appropriating approximately $4 million out of an anticipated $5 million. Discussions revolved around possible ordinance cancellations and using the capital improvement fund to cover expenses. The council considered increasing the property tax levy by 1.75% instead of the proposed 2.7%, scrutinizing the prudence of the budget in light of potential future expenses and maintaining a robust fund balance.

In light of upcoming contracts, the council discussed the impact of these on the budget, including anticipated increases in health insurance costs and the expiration of certain debts by 2028, which may provide the opportunity to fund a new fire truck. The council also contemplated the possibility of offering tax relief and the expectation of additional taxes from the upcoming school budget.

Additionally, the meeting featured the adoption of an ordinance amending the land development chapter of the borough code regarding stormwater management. The council underscored the planning board’s involvement and the ordinance’s alignment with Madison’s values.

Public safety was also a focus, with the Public Safety Council president reporting on the AR New Jersey program’s launch at the Madison Police Department, the annual department meeting and awards, and security enhancements at Madison High School. The fire department’s response statistics for February, as well as a $55,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for personal protection gear, were also noted.

Community events and initiatives were among the subjects addressed, including the reimagining of the Madison Farmers Market as the Madison Farm and Artisan Market, as well as the upcoming Madison Green and Clean event, Arbor Day celebration, and Taste of Madison. The Madison Community Arts Center’s programming and the Health Department’s discussion on COVID isolation guidance and vaccinations were also on the agenda.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, residents provided feedback, including suggestions for limiting presentation lengths and discussing reimbursement for municipal employees’ expenses. The council acknowledged these concerns and showed appreciation for the community’s recognition of their efforts in securing grants and advancing the borough’s projects.

The meeting concluded with the consent agenda’s approval, which contained several resolutions, including the appointment of a fire captain in the fire department. The total amount approved for vouchers from various funds was announced, and the motion to adjourn the session was approved without opposition.

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.
Robert H Conley
City Council Officials:
Eric Range, Rachel Ehrlich, Robert E. Landrigan, Tom Haralampoudis, Melissa Honohan, John Forte

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