In a meeting saturated with fiscal maneuvering and long-term planning, the Wood-Ridge Borough Council, led by Mayor Paulo Sarlo, introduced a $1.7 million bond ordinance aimed at funding various public improvements including the acquisition of a new fire engine. Coupled with this, Administrator Eilert announced a tax rate decrease for the second year running. The August 23 meeting provided glimpses of the Council’s multi-year strategic outlook for capital expenditures and showcased efforts to optimize Borough operations based on annual audit recommendations.
One of the most eye-catching items on the agenda was Bond Ordinance 2023-9. Scheduled for a public hearing on September 20, the $1.7 million bond aims to modernize the borough with new equipment and a fire engine. This financial blueprint was part of a broader amendment to the 2023 capital budget that outlined a strategy stretching from 2023 through 2025. The amendment specifies estimated costs and funding sources for various improvements and acquisitions.
Council President Dominick Azzolini provided updates on the Department of Public Works and announced an upcoming Historical Society meeting. Councilperson Ezio I. Altamura highlighted police involvement in community events and mentioned that Sergeant Joseph Manfredonia would be attending a leadership program. Councilperson Philip Romero focused on the Fire Department’s July activities, supporting another resolution that aimed to enhance Bergen County’s fire response during emergencies. Councilperson Edward Marino announced a flat tax year.
Yet another highlight was the tax rate reduction, which was confirmed for the second consecutive year by Administrator Eilert. This comes on the heels of a series of ongoing projects, including the expansion of the Doyle School—funded by a $12.5 million state grant—and utility upgrades by Veolia Water and PSE&G. As local municipalities struggle with increasing costs and limited funding options, this reduction signals an intriguing counter-narrative for Wood-Ridge.
The Council also approved a Corrective Action Plan based on their 2022 Annual Audit, conducted by Gary J. Vinci. The plan focuses on enhancing the Borough’s purchasing procedures, reconciling Trust Fund ledgers, and verifying tax payments remitted by payroll service providers. Marked as “Ongoing,” these corrective actions indicate the Council’s commitment to transparency and financial accountability. A resolution was also passed acknowledging the receipt of the annual audit report for 2022 and designating a $1,000,000 bond anticipation note as a “qualified tax-exempt obligation.”
The Finance Committee approved the payment of bills, though Councilperson Altamura abstained on a specific check for undisclosed reasons. During the first hearing of citizens, no one stepped forward to speak, suggesting either widespread satisfaction or disengagement with the Council’s activities.
On a lighter note, administrative matters included the approval of an application for On-Premise 50/50 draws by the Wood-Ridge Touch Down Club to be held in September at the Wood-Ridge High School Football Field. Another application was approved for Moumouni Dawoko’s Limousine Permit. These items were approved as part of a consent agenda, which also confirmed meeting minutes from July 26.