Oradell Council Mulls Over Holiday Lighting Logistics Amidst Funding Concerns

In a recent Oradell Borough Council meeting, the most pressing topics revolved around the upcoming holiday lighting events, concerns over potential loss of over $100,000 due to the American Broadband Act of 2023, and a discussion on the anticipated 20% health insurance cost increase in 2024. The council, grappling with decisions on the holiday lighting locations and a potential combined tree and menorah ceremony, also voiced worries about significant fiscal challenges the borough may face in the upcoming year.

The holiday lighting events have always been a significant attraction in Oradell. One of the primary debates was relocating the tree lighting ceremony to Sherrod Park, given concerns about the current tree’s health. Superintendent Nwening expressed hesitations about the move, believing the municipal building’s front might be a better venue. However, some council members favored the park due to its ability to manage crowds better and cause fewer traffic disruptions. Councilman Kern highlighted that he had sought advice from a rabbi regarding the joint tree and menorah lighting, given the proximity of their respective dates this December. Though combining the ceremonies seemed a favored choice, concerns about potential cold weather and the duration of the event were raised.

In an important fiscal discussion, a council member drew attention to HR 3557, the American Broadband Act of 2023, remarking, “if it doesn’t go in our favor, the fees that we normally obtain every year will go away, and it’s over $100,000.” This substantial financial setback would inevitably impact the borough’s annual budget.

Additionally, health insurance costs were a prominent topic. With an expected 20% increase in 2024, a council member emphasized the need to comprehend the drivers behind such a significant hike. The projection was attributed to data used from a COVID year, thereby inflating the estimate. Considering alternatives to the state health plan was seen as a potential solution.

The council also addressed other matters, such as the receipt of storm water grant funding from the NJDEP, a proposal for creating safer routes to schools, and the policy for monument additions at Memorial Field, especially concerning veterans. There was a collective acknowledgment of the importance of being proactive in planning events and acknowledging residents’ contributions, like the pollinator garden project at the Oradell train station by Girl Scout Angela McDonough.

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