Tenafly Council Tackles Municipal Court and Police Department Budgets

The Tenafly Borough Council meeting addressed concerns regarding the Municipal Court’s operations and budget, as well as discussions on the police department’s staffing, vehicle needs, and the implementation of traffic calming measures. The council delved into the Municipal Court’s requested operational budget for the upcoming year, set at $1,465,000, and the net cost of court operations estimated at roughly $50,000. There were debates about the enforcement of fines, the potential for increased revenue, and the Judiciary’s policy on issuing bench warrants for failure to pay, which impacts revenue collection.

The Municipal Court’s vacancy for a part-time position was highlighted, noting difficulties in finding applicants and discussions on the possibility of sharing court services with another community or adopting online options for certain functions. The enforcement of fines and the possibility of increasing revenue through stricter enforcement and revisiting fine amounts were also points of debate. Concerns were raised regarding the legislative and regulatory issues affecting the enforcement of collections from people who owe money to the borough. Council members expressed frustration with the changes in rules that made it difficult to enforce payment for tickets and bench warrants for non-payment. The idea of creating a lien on properties for outstanding payments was discussed, alongside engaging with state legislators to address the challenges faced by municipalities.

The council also engaged in substantial discussions regarding the budgetary considerations of the Emergency Services department. The department’s efforts in hosting events, conducting blood drives, and the challenges with aging first responder vehicles were outlined. The increased costs for educational and training requirements and the implementation of a new electronic charting system were highlighted. The idea of soft billing for ambulance services was debated, raising concerns about its impact on the department’s volunteer status and the practicality of collecting fees from patients. The potential benefits and implications of soft billing were deliberated, with differing views on the feasibility and impact of such a policy.

Regarding the fire department, fundraising, the incentive program, and the budget and operational aspects took center stage in the discussions. The possibility of transitioning to a soft billing system and updating the incentive program to align with the work done by volunteers was considered. The need for a medical director and the purchase of a new ambulance, which might require a supplemental bond ordinance, were discussed. The potential use of electric vehicles for first responders was also brought up.

The fire preventionist’s presentation noted that the budget request for the current year remained the same as the previous year. An operational question about the requirement for a commercial tenant to schedule a fire inspection after receiving a Certificate of Occupancy was raised, seeking clarification on the process.

The necessity of scheduling business inspections after the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the maintenance of a database for smoke detector inspections and rental properties, and the replacement of a Crown Victoria for $52,000 were topics of debate. The fire chief presented a detailed list of capital requests, including the need for an electric car fire blanket and better capital planning for vehicle purchases and capital expenses.

The council discussed the fire department’s surplus and the debate over a 15 to 20% tax increase, the potential donation or sale of an old ladder truck, hiring a cleaning service for the fire station due to manpower shortages, and the allocation of funds for grant writing.

Staffing and overtime expenses in the police department were also focal points, with the chief providing updates on personnel changes, including the addition of a second School Resource Officer (SRO). The council questioned the impact of the additional SRO on the overall police force and the necessity for backfilling vacancies. Traffic calming measures, specifically the use of speed bumps in response to resident requests, were briefly addressed.

The council’s discussions on the police department included the success of camera systems in aiding investigations and debates about additional cameras in the downtown area, the need for new police vehicles, and the possibility of leasing. Consideration of increasing the daily rate for outside duty police vehicles and the purchase of electric vehicles for the police fleet were also debated. Efficiency measures such as electronic ticketing and a new CAD system were discussed, alongside the burden of school crossing guard costs and the need to increase revenue through traffic enforcement.

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.
Mark Zinna
City Council Officials:
Jamie Corsair, Venugopal Menon, Adam Michaels, Julie O’Connor, Daniel Park, John Roglieri

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