Ridgewood Village Council Addresses Infrastructure and Public Safety in Budget Meeting

The recent Ridgewood Village Council special public budget meeting focused on key infrastructure improvements and public safety enhancements, with notable discussions on the installation of a sidewalk on Clinton Avenue, restructuring of emergency services, sanitation and recycling budgets, and significant water rate increases due to infrastructure needs. The council addressed residents’ safety concerns, emergency management’s restructured services, and the water utility’s budget and rate hikes, outlining the strategic planning for the village’s future needs.

Residents Sarah Wilson and P.D. Benedetto advocated for the installation of a sidewalk on Clinton Avenue to ensure the safety of Ridge Elementary students. The council assured that the issue would be revisited in a forthcoming meeting dedicated to discussing funding for sidewalks, acknowledging the importance of safe school routes.

Jeremy Clamman, the coordinator of the office of emergency management, reported on the restructuring of emergency services, which included the integration of the Special Operations Division and the TIES teens into the office. The council reviewed the operational and capital budget for emergency management, including funding for surveillance, garage door replacements at Douglas Place, and security upgrades, recognizing the need for these investments in public safety.

The capital budget for emergency management sparked a conversation among the council members. The allocation of $90,000 for a surveillance camera trailer, designed for security monitoring during events, was considered a necessary addition to the village’s security infrastructure. The council also discussed the $30,000 earmarked for replacing the aging garage doors at Douglas Place and the $40,000 allocated for enhancements to attack and security camera systems at the same location.

Discussions then turned to the proposed long-term $1.4 million budget aimed at replacing portable radios for special operations by 2026. The council emphasized the need for state-of-the-art communication equipment for emergency responders, including the capability to coordinate with external agencies during emergencies.

On sanitation and recycling, the council underscored the significance of operational efficiency despite the challenges posed by equipment issues and the retirement of key employees. The need for additional CDL drivers and the benefits of extending rental agreements for trucks were also highlighted. Furthermore, the potential acquisition of electric vehicles for the fleet and the installation of charging stations in the parking garage were topics of enthusiasm.

The water utility’s budget presentation was a major focal point, addressing necessary infrastructure improvements, including treatment plant construction and lead service line replacements. The budget, which increased by 133% from the previous year, was deemed reasonable by an outside rate expert. The council acknowledged the need to manage a projected surplus to avoid future debt and stabilize water rates.

The projected 7-8% increase in water rates over the coming years generated concern among council members, particularly regarding the impact on seniors and those on fixed incomes. The necessity of infrastructure upgrades in response to EPA mandates and to ensure safe drinking water was balanced against the financial implications for residents. The council explored options to mitigate these costs, including seeking federal and state funding and managing the debt associated with improvements to avoid significant rate hikes.

They also addressed concerns regarding the PCEAR charges and clarified that these would remain until the associated debts were repaid.

The meeting concluded with a resolution to enter a closed session to discuss legal matters related to the Ridgewood Water lawsuit.

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.
Paul Vagianos
City Council Officials:
Pamela R. Perron, Lorraine Reynolds, Evan Weitz, Siobhan Winograd

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