Washington Township Council Debates Property Reassessment, Health Plan Changes, and Tax Fairness

In a recent Washington Township Council meeting, members deliberated on a wide range of issues, including the potential reassessment of property values and the implementation of a new health insurance plan for town employees. The discussion on tax revaluation was a focal point, with the council considering the merits of conducting a complete reassessment, possibly followed by a four or six-year assessment cycle. This approach is aimed at reflecting the true market values of properties, particularly in light of upcoming developments, as highlighted by Township Engineer Glen Beckmeyer. The council mulled over three options for tax reassessment and the financial implications for taxpayers, with Council President Michael Ullman advocating for a multi-year plan to reassess more properties over a longer period.

Another topic was the introduction of the Difference Card program to the town’s health benefits plan. This plan would require the township to fund a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) account for each employee, guaranteeing 100% coverage for all in-network services. Despite the potential 25% savings by moving employees to the direct 2035 option, council members expressed concerns about the financial and structural aspects of the HRA accounts. The state-mandated funding, set at $15,120 per employee, was debated, with council members questioning the alignment with actual healthcare expenses incurred by employees.

Councilman Michael Desena shared updates on environmental and veterans’ initiatives, including a study on the township’s tree canopy and a Veterans Nature Grant program. He also discussed a new virtual VA care service for veterans, allowing for consultations and prescriptions through Zoom. Councilwoman Daisy Velez provided updates on community health events and the veterans’ banners project, which aims to display banners on 80 poles throughout the town by Memorial Day.

The council addressed the absence of a Chief Financial Officer appointment, the impact on financial discussions, and concerns raised by Council President Ullman about the lack of a contingency plan. Sarah Hbig, the tax assessor, presented on the possibility and cost savings of a tax revaluation for 2024.33%, emphasizing the urgency of conducting a revaluation before being mandated by the county.

The meeting included recognitions and community updates, such as acknowledging the achievements of the Westwood Regional High School wrestling team by Councilman Steven Cascio. Mayor Peter Calamari reported on recent activities of various departments, including the Police, Recreation, Fire, and Municipal Alliance.

During the general public comment period, residents Bob Stickle and other attendees emphasized the need for tax fairness, transparency in school tax formulas, and oversight of the township’s expenses. The appointment of a new engineer was mentioned as a positive step, and there was a request for more transparency in the school superintendent’s appointment process.

The council discussed the approval of various resolutions, including the payment of bills and the appointment of a municipal advisor. There was a focus on understanding and validating the breakdown of expenses, particularly for services such as Boswell Engineering and Weatherproofing Technology, and the allocation of grant money for projects like the DNL Paving project. Concerns about the accuracy of the budget and expense categorization were raised by Councilman Ullman, prompting a call for preemptive action before the budget session.

The council also debated the timing and process for selling properties at fair market value, examining an offer for a property on Colonial Boulevard. Updates on various projects were provided, including road improvements, Memorial Field renovations, and stormwater mapping. The council considered amendments to the sign ordinance to clarify ownership and debated the implementation of a new law requiring lead paint inspections for rental properties.

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.

Mayor:
Peter Calamari
City Council Officials:
Michael Desena, Steven Cascio, Tom Sears, Michael Ullman, Daisy Velez, KEN POLLER (Twp. Attorney), MARK DICARLO (Twp. Administrator), GLEN BECKMEYER (Twp. Engineer), SUE WITKOWSKI (Twp. Clerk)

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