South River Council Tackles School Bus Parking Issue

The South River Borough Council addressed a range of community and administrative issues during its latest session, with the introduction of a parking ordinance amendment for school buses in residential areas taking center stage. The council also introduced the municipal budget for the fiscal year 2024, and discussed various community events, departmental updates, and public concerns, including an increase in water rates balanced by a decrease in electric rates, and the progress of local infrastructure projects.

At the forefront of the meeting was the first reading of an ordinance concerning the parking of school buses in residential zones. The council considered this matter after receiving numerous complaints from citizens. An investigation into the matter revealed that the current ordinance did not prohibit the parking of buses, despite restrictions on truck parking. The council clarified that the proposed amendment would specifically target Class C and D buses, which transport between 10 to 54 passengers and 10 to 504 passengers, respectively, to align with the existing truck parking bans.

Another focus of the meeting was the introduction of the municipal budget for 2024, encapsulated in resolution 2024-25. The budget would be published in the Home News Tribune on April 11th, 2024, and was highlighted as a planning document in compliance with state laws. The budget maintained service levels without cuts and confirmed that all three borough utilities are self-liquidating. The water utility’s budget includes a proposed 10% rate increase, partially due to a 5.23% increase in the purchase of water from East Brunswick, which in turn was due to a rate hike by Middlesex Water. Increased insurance and salaries, in line with contractual obligations, were also factored into the budget. The plan included comprehensive maintenance for the water system, including new meter installations and aggressive debt service payments.

In contrast, the electric utility’s budget proposed a 4.83% rate decrease, thanks to savings from a battery storage project. This reduction was designed to help offset the water rate increase for residents. The electric utility’s budget also accounted for capital expenses such as upgrades to transformers, wires, and substation repairs.

The current fund budget of the borough was also discussed, with all revenue line items meeting or exceeding their targets in 2023. State aid showed a marginal increase of 0.5%, and additional Municipal Relief Aid had been provided. Savings from the battery storage project were earmarked for various capital improvements, including roads, parks, fire trucks, DPW vehicles, and sewer system upgrades. Despite most appropriations remaining level, there were notable increases in insurance and sewer treatment costs. The budget also accounted for a slight increase in debt service due to rising interest rates and an anticipated annual tax increase of $58.19 for the average residential unit.

The meeting proceeded with the second readings of several ordinances, including amendments to the water fees (Ordinance 2024-D8), the fees chapter of the borough code (Ordinance 2024-D9), and a bond ordinance for improvements to the borough’s water treatment, storage, and distribution system (Ordinance 2024-D10). Additionally, a new chapter for filming permits (Ordinance 2024-D11) and further amendments to the fees chapter (Ordinance 2024-D12) were introduced. The zoning amendments ordinance (Ordinance 2024-D13) was also presented, with the second reading and public hearing scheduled for March 25th, 2024.

Departmental updates included progress on the 2024 local aid program, grant proposals, and commencement of pothole repairs. The fire department reported the need to take engine four out of service and the acquisition of a $75,000 grant for new gear. Further grant applications for new radios were also mentioned. Discussions about community events covered the need for cat and dog licenses, an educational presentation about wolves, book donations for a library sale, and planning for South River Day and the Memorial Day Parade.

Public comments raised issues concerning parking and vehicle safety. A young resident expressed concerns about having to park far from home and walking through unsafe areas late at night. Another resident recounted damage to legally parked cars and questioned enforcement actions against vehicles parked on their own lawns. A resident named Julie Litman asked about ordinances relating to large school bus parking, sharing an experience of being told to move her bus from a spot she believed was legal.

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.
Peter Guindi
City Council Officials:
Jason Oliveira, John Krenzel, Tony Ciulla, Henry Dziemian, Donna Balazs, James Gurchensky

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