The public will have a chance to comment on the 2021 municipal budget and tax levy at the Wednesday, April 21 council meeting.

The amount to be raised by taxation for 2021 will be $21,001,827.50, an increase of 2.504% to the tax rate over 2020’s. That means about $25 more in municipal taxes on an average house. The municipal open space tax remains flat and the library tax increase will be .401% based on the laws that created the state’s library system.

The biggest hit comes from the garbage district, 11.364%, less than was originally estimated under the new contract with Blue Diamond.

Township Chief Financial Officer Bill Eagen said the next couple of years will see a 2 to 2.5% increase in garbage district tax and the fifth year of the five-year contract will see no increase at all.

Council introduced the budget at its March 24 meeting and set the public hearing date at that time.

A big change in the township will come at the end of April with the retirement of Emergency Management coordinator Ed Mangold. 

Police Chief Paul Castimore will take over for Mangold. He is already one of the deputies. 

The township will also bring on a new deputy, James Perrier, who will take on many of the duties Mangold handled and serve as a liaison to the rescue squads. There are five other deputies, Mayor Eric Wilsusen said. 

Certain facilities in the township must be inspected each year. Others are not required to have annual inspections for fire or other safety issues, but there is an ordinance on the books calling for inspections. These will continue to be inspected every two years for the time being, Wilsusen said. These businesses are charged $50 per inspection. The OEM deputies also do “fire watch” at special events, checking for properly marked exits and other safety matters.  

Township Administrator Deb Milikin said council will see an ordinance amending the zoning requirements for a public storage facility. The maximum building height in the township is 35 feet. The ordinance will call for a maximum height of 40 feet for storage buildings. It will be on the agenda for the Wednesday, April 7, meeting, she said. 

The mayor said more than 500 people responded to a survey about cable service since Altice purchased Optimum. He decided to survey users after receiving many complaints about outages and bad customer service. The respondents were overwhelmingly unhappy with their service.

Optimum has been the only game in town, but a fiber-optic service, Planet Networks, is in the process of running service down Espanong and Edison roads to serve Skylands Medical, Wilsusen said.

Wilsusen said the contractor on the Route 15 bridge is engineering a fix for some beams that need reinforcement and hope to open one lane in either direction soon.

Senior contributing writer Jane Primerano may be contacted at jane.primerano@thejeffersonchronicle.com.

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