Washington Township Council Faces Air Traffic Noise Concerns and Budget Cuts Debate

At the recent Washington Town Council meeting, residents’ concerns about aircraft noise and the potential impact of budget cuts dominated discussions. The meeting brought to light the community’s struggle with private jets flying over their homes at low altitudes, causing high noise levels, and the debate over proposed cuts to discretionary spending, including the fire department’s budget.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing a issue raised by a resident representing Taxpayers for Aircraft Noise Solutions (TANS). The group has been actively working to address the issue of aircraft noise in the township, which has been affecting the quality of life for residents. They have gathered support from neighboring communities and are urging the Washington Town Council to follow suit by passing a resolution to petition the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reduce air traffic noise. The resident highlighted the Route 17 approach as a potential solution to mitigate the impact on residential areas and emphasized the urgency of the council’s support to send the resolution to the FAA for consideration.

The topic of the fire department’s budget also took center stage during the meeting. A volunteer fireman and resident addressed the council, expressing concerns about the proposed cuts to discretionary spending, which could affect events such as the fire department’s Chief’s testimonial dinner. He pointed out that the fire department raises funds to cover a portion of the dinner’s costs and emphasized the importance of recognizing the dedication of volunteer fire department members. The council debated the matter, with one councilman clarifying that the intention was not to cut the fire department’s budget specifically, but to examine discretionary spending as a whole. The Mayor’s attempt to join the conversation led to resistance from some council members, resulting in a heated exchange.

The council addressed a variety of other topics throughout the meeting. The debate on the resolutions consent agenda featured discussions on a grant agreement contract for land acquisition, refunds for basketball registration fees, participation in the New Jersey municipal certification program, and shared services for recycling and street sweeping. A resolution involving the implementation of a standard policy for claimants’ certification sparked a debate.

The authorization of contracts for administrative agent and municipal advisor services was scrutinized, with council members requesting clarification on the roles and fees associated with these services. Concerns were raised regarding the necessity of retaining a municipal architect, with the resolution to award a contract to AR Carino Architect PC being tabled until the next meeting for further review.

The council deliberated on the future of the DPW building, with Mayor Calamari seeking input on moving forward. The discussion touched on the risks of combining council chambers, courtrooms, and DPW workspaces in one building and the preferred option by police and DPW departments, which includes additional non-DPW workspace.

The possibility of conducting meetings entirely remotely, as opposed to a hybrid option, was discussed, as were concerns about DPW employees’ exposure to hazardous materials. The timing of budget approvals and the need to certify funds before bidding on the 2024 Road program were highlighted, with a suggestion to separate the bid process for the New Jersey DOT grant to expedite roadwork.

Budget and taxes were a recurrent theme throughout the meeting. Councilman Ullman proposed a 10% reduction in the budget, excluding essential expenses, to alleviate the tax burden on residents. This led to a broader debate about the town’s tax rates, the potential need for a reevaluation of taxes by the county, and the associated costs. The discussion also included the introduction of difference cards for employee benefits, which could potentially save the town $160,000 based on historical usage.

Other matters addressed included the timing of council meetings, the zoning board appointment procedure, and the need for transparency and structure in the selection process. The grant presentation for the Bergen County open space land acquisition on Pasak Road was discussed, with council members seeking clarification on the reimbursement process and implications of the property purchase.

The public comment period provided an opportunity for residents to voice their issues, with the aircraft noise concern being a standout topic. The council was urged to formally adopt a resolution to address the noise from private jets, following the lead of other towns that have done so.

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

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