Council Meets To Discuss Capital Budget

June 8th marked the second time the members of council met to discuss the 2011 capital budget. Separate from the Borough’s regular municipal budget, capital expenditures include infrastructure improvements and repairs, grants, and funding for items requested by departments or other municipal entities. Because items placed in the capital budget do not directly reflect changes in the property tax levy, any expenditure serves as an issuance of debt.

After a preliminary meeting, Council chose to bring in departments who submitted requests for capital funding. Representatives from the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Roselle Park Fire Department (RPFD), and TV-34 were present.

DPW Superintendent Vincent Cahill presented information on his department’s request for one (1) dump-truck with a salt spreader and plow, or two (2) mason trucks with salt spreaders and plows, funding for the borough-wide sidewalk replacement program, and funding for tree replacement borough-wide. The dollar amount affixed to the DPW’s requests totaled $186,000.

After some discussion, Councilman and Finance Chairman Michael Yakubov offered the notion of a phase-in period. This would split the $156,000 request for plows and spreaders over a time designated by the governing body. Although this was an idea the rest of Council generally accepted, they requested that Mr. Cahill forward additional information – specifically a breakdown of costs associated with each item.

Next, the Council reviewed the $20,000 request to fund the borough-wide sidewalk replacement program.

“It would seem to me that if you explain it to people, you’re not getting a free sidewalk,” states Second Ward Councilman Marc Caswell. Citing a higher rate that the Borough might pay for sidewalk slab replacement, the Councilman noted that residents might get more slabs done by paying for it themselves. Adding to the discussion Third Ward Councilwoman Tanya Torres noted, “I have dealt with this program personally. I do see a need for it, but I think it should be kept to an ‘as needed’ basis.”

The Councilwoman referenced that certain criteria is needed to enact the program’s use. My Cahill explained that a Borough tree must have lifted a cement slab one inch (or more) off of its resting place.

“We have to weigh what’s a necessity and what is a…luxury” added Councilman Yakubov during a lull in the discussion.

“Well, we already bought the equipment so it’s just the material we’re talking about,” stated Fourth Ward Councilman and Council President Moe Miranda. Citing the DPW’s use of last year’s capital funding to buy equipment for the program, Councilman Miranda proposed that the amount spent on the equipment be subtracted from the $20,000 proposed amount. Mr. Cahill agreed and stated that he would forward that number to the CFO and members of Council.

The remaining $10,000 in the request was dedicated to tree replacement. This, along with the other items, will be decided upon by the council at a future meeting.

Following the DPW, Fire Chief Joseph Signorello and Deputy Chief Raymond Parenteau spoke to Council regarding the RPFD capital requests. Both Chief Signorello and Deputy Chief Parenteau stressed the age of some of the equipment being used. While some equipment is approximately 10 years old, others still in use were purchased in 1984 – making them 27 years old.

Beyond safety equipment, the Fire Department also requested $30,000 towards a 4×4 pickup truck.

“Other than Winfield, the Roselle Park Fire Department is the only Department without a 4×4 in Union County,” noted Chief Signorello. In the end, the Council did not grant the request for the truck but instead posed that they would consider granting all $83,000 for other requested equipment. As with the DPW requests, all final discussion and decisions will be made at the next capital budget meeting.

Discussion involving TV-34 was tabled until the next meeting to confirm information involving upgrades to the community access programming equipment and software. The next meeting to discuss the capital budget will be determined and announced during the next regularly scheduled meeting of Mayor and Council on Thursday, June 16th.