12 Feb Borough Meeting Highlights 02-05-2020
Dear CTWWW Members and Neighbors,
It is that time of year again and membership dues are urgently needed in order to continue the videotaping of borough meetings and other efforts designed to protect the taxpayers of WWW.
Please send your $25 check to CTWWW, PO Box 624, West Wildwood, NJ 08260
The monthly borough meeting was held on Wednesday, February 5th at 5PM and approximately 35 taxpayers attended.
Mayor Fox, Commissioner Golden, Commissioner Korobellis, Solicitor Bittner, Municipal Clerk Donna Frederick & Deputy Clerk Carl O’Hala were also present.
The most important discussion of the evening was in regard to Ordinance #578 authorizing a $1,750,000 bond for sanitary sewer, storm water and related roadwork improvements to Poplar Avenue.
To view the meeting video go to the https://ctwww.org/ website. It is important that you watch it for yourself as there was a lot of information discussed on this specific topic.
Presentations by the borough engineering firm, borough auditor and CFO were shared in order to answer questions as a result of the poor discussions that took place at the January 23rd special meeting.
In the interim, a petition to block the bond was started by the taxpayers of WWW and you will be receiving an update on this effort later this week.
Jim Orvis, regional manager engineer with Remington & Vernick, gave an overview of the project, which includes plans to raise the roadway and replace sidewalks, curbs, etc. in addition to replacing the sewer lines.
A $30,000 USDA grant had been previously awarded to the BOWW and was used for a video of the sewer lines on a stretch of Maple Avenue which identified sagging sewer lines that are consistently filled with fluids & effluent, in addition to joints that leak and/or are broken.
The borough engineer and commissioners believe the impact of storms; floodwaters and pipe deflection have resulted in a flow rate of about five times (59 million gallons) more than it should be (10 million gallons), which accounts for higher bills for us. Additionally, when the current sewer lines were laid approximately 30 years ago, the back filled soil was compromised and now contributes to the problem.
Estimated funding for the projects is as follows:
- A NJ Department of Transportation (DOT) grant in the amount of $156,000 for the reconstruction of Poplar Avenue was awarded in 2018.
- The BOWW will apply for a grant through the USDA Rural Utility Service/Department of Agriculture to fund up to half of the $1,594,000 ($1,750,000 less $156,000 DOT grant). The other half would be in the form of a 40-year low interest loan at an approximate rate of 2.25%.
- Since the grants are reimbursable, it is necessary to issue the bond to fund the project. Once the project is complete, the grant will be paid to the Borough and long term financing for the remainder (estimated at $800,000) will be established to pay off the initial $1.7M bond.
- Another DOT grant for $160,000 has been secured for G Avenue which was awarded in 2019.
Mayor Fox insists that if the USDA Rural Utilities Service grant and loan do not materialize, the Poplar Avenue sewer replacement project will not move forward.
It was also stated that the repayment of the project will result in higher sewer charges, not an increase in the tax rate.
The estimated annual cost of the project, as calculated by the borough’s auditor is an approximate increase of $36.50 per year, per sewer connection.
Public comments/questions included the following:
- Funds should be spent strictly on replacing sewers and not raising roadways.
- Repairing existing sewer lines with new liners is not an option. The rigid, inflexible lining will not prevent the joints from cracking. Some repairs may be made in lieu of replacement, but that cannot be determined until they open the ground.
- Why is Poplar Avenue sewer line being replaced when Maple Avenue was scoped? The commissioners believe the issues on Maple are true on Poplar as well and would like to tie in the two DOT grants with the USDA Rural Utility Service grant/loan. Other areas to be improved on the island include Pine Avenue in the area of Lake, an outfall on Lake, and Avenues J and A.
- The sewers on Poplar Avenue were replaced in the late 80’s & 90s and still have debt associated with the installation approximately 30 years ago. Hence leaving the taxpayer with possibly two loans.
- How can we ensure the new sewer lines will have a longer life? The engineers believe the life span should be in excess of 40 years as joint technology and soil back fill has improved. The engineering firm has quite a bit of experience related to infrastructure improvements of shore towns.
Passed resolutions included the following:
- Appointment of a Professional Services Contract for a General Hearing Officer (Secare), Information Technology Services (ACA Computers) and planning services required for Affordable Housing Compliance.
- BOWW will participate in a program to allow the police department to purchase excess Defense Department equipment
Late agenda items:
- Resolution #2020-028 to submit an application to the US Rural Utility Service/ Department of Agriculture for funding application for sewer improvements on Poplar Avenue from Arion to G Avenue, and G Avenue from Poplar Avenue to Glenwood Avenue.
- Resolution #2020-029 relates to a COAH (Coalition of Affordable Housing) matter. The borough is required to hire a planner at a cost of $19,500. The borough plans to issue a bond so as not to increase taxes by .01 cent. There is a special meeting to pass this on February 11th at 9:00am
- Neither the Police Department nor the Public Works report was presented in order to allow ample time for presentations related to Ordinance #578. A Public Works report has not been given in 4 months.
Old business included the following:
- Mediation is scheduled related to the Mawhinney lawsuit in February.
- No update on the Living Shoreline Project. Eminent domain will not be pursued unless funding is secured.
- The mayor will not provide examples of municipalities similar in size to the BOWW with full time, in house solicitors.
- The mayor and commissioners failed to employ New Jersey Best Practices when Mary Bittner was hired. For example, no other candidates were interviewed, a job description was not prepared and a hiring policy has not been adopted.
Thank you for your continued support and please contact us with any questions.