PERTH AMBOY – At the caucus meeting of Feb. 6, several directors spoke on their departmental budget needs: Police: Replacement of vehicles, 3 SUV’s in 2012 and 3 in 2013. These are consumables and cannot be paid for through bond issues.
Jefferson Street Parking Garage: A 3.2M proposal is being re-examined to consider repair versus demolition of some portions. The City also wants to insure enough revenue comes in through increased parking rates before commencing construction this summer.
Fire: The specifications that will go in the bid for a custom-made Fire Engine are being finalized. Delivery time is to be 12 months. A new thermal imaging system purchase was also discussed. Repair of the present system is not feasible, per the manufacturer.
Redevelopment: The County site plan is done and values are being finalized by the city appraiser for right of way purchase for the connector road between Rt. 35 to Amboy Ave. near the old fire station, across from Delaney Homes property. However, there is no definite schedule for any construction since this schedule is controlled by the County.
Recreation: The most important items for the Rec Dept. are lights for the tennis court and the building for the Youth Complex which is under construction on Brighton Avenue at Sadowski Parkway. A Green Acres grant is being pursued.
That concluded the requests. These requests exceed $5 million in new debt which does nothing to lower the City’s debt by 3.3M, which is the target set by the City for its budget, by Business Administrator Greg Fehrenbach.
Next, it was noted that a letter had been received by Mr. Al Jacobs, whose term just ended on the Port Authority Board. A few of the councilmen voice their approval for Mr. Jacobs and hoped that he was able to stay for a new term.
Discussion was carried out regarding the pros and cons of moving the Board of Education election from April to November. The Pros include reduced expenses for poll workers and a perception that holding the election for the Board would increase the perception of its importance perhaps increase voter turnout. The main Con was having a very crowded ballot with so many elections occurring on the same day, resulting in a difficult and confusing ballot. Also, debate transpired over whether the Board of Ed or the Council should make this decision, since both bodies are authorized to do so.
During the Public Comment: Michael George, Chairman of the Port Authority (Marina) board stated his opposition to repairing the piers before the bulkheads along the waterfront. “That’s like building the house before the foundation,” he said. He also asked why the City is waiting to do this in summer when we are having a mild winter? Mr. Ferhenbach stated he wished he could have delegated the job to Mr. George, but he can’t. George’s reply was “I wish you had, it would have been done already.” Mr. Fehrenbach stated that it’s being done as quickly as possible under FEMA and DEP procedures. George also asked why we couldn’t we go green in regards to the purchase of 3 SUV’s? Dep. Chief Ben Ruiz stated that the outside shells may look the same, but inside, these vehicles have good gas efficiencies.
Ricky Aviles addressed the process of advertising board and commission openings, collecting resumes and applications, reviewing these and even having public interviews of candidates. Volunteers cannot just be granted new or extended terms. Regarding the BOE election, his view was it’s their (BOE) election, let them decide to move it or not and take the subsequent “heat”.
Police Chaplain Greg Diaz also stated his opinion that the BOE should be the party to decide how to handle their elections.
Alan Silber presented the opposite view, that the City Council should not shirk its duty and make the BOE election decision, or at the very minimum, not be inconsistent in the Council’s) opinion statements, which have vacillated among various members. He read conflicting councilmen statements about the benefits and detriments of both keeping and moving the election.
At the end of the public portion, Greg Ferhenbach read a statement which he had prepared regarding “false allegations” that are a deterrent to his use of time dealing with the real problems of the city. An example of this is his having to deal with the placing of a metal sheet on the Veterans Memorial at the waterfront to cover up all of the committee names by Parks and Grounds staff. Fehrenbach stressed that no contractor has been hired, nor purchase order released, for this work – Park staff did this.
by Tracy Jordan