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Updated Mayor’s Comments on the Weather Impact on the Township Budget

At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, I updated residents about the impact that the 3 recent Nor-Easters is having on the draft 2018 Budget. We will present the Budget in full at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 10th at 7pm at Town Hall. My comments last night were revisions to this draft budget and an explanation for those proposed revisions.

I’d like to start with some additional context around the Budget process and then discuss the impact of the recent Winter Storms on the draft Budget.

Each year, the Mayor and TC hold open public meetings to review and discuss the proposed budget and proposed capital needs for the year, line by line. For 2018, those meetings were on February 26 and March 5 At the conclusion of these meetings, the proposed average tax increase for the 2018 township budget was $70 per household (based on an assessed value of approximately $312,000). Those meetings were live-streamed and recorded and are available here (links).

The three March Nor-Easters caused the Township to incur significant costs for salt, and additional costs for contractors to both remove snow from intersections and to remove dangerous trees, hanging branches, etc. To date, the impact has been to use up approximately 81% of the proposed 2018 budget for snow removal.

On April 2, 2018, we held an additional public budget meeting to discuss the impact of the storms on the proposed 2018 budget. The CFO recommended to increase the 2018 proposed snow removal budget by $25,000 to provide additional funds for potential storms in November and December 2018. The CFO noted that the Environmental Commission has generously provided the town with $10,000 from their tree trust monies to cover some of the additional costs incurred by the Township to care for dangerous trees and hanging branches. The CFO also proposed adding an additional summer DPW intern to provide manpower for spring clean-up and field maintenance – since the start of these projects will be delayed due to the need to clean up after these storms. No additional budget money is required for this addition as there was a change in staffing during the first quarter of 2018 and the proposed budget can absorb the additional part-time employee.

The net effect of the 3 March Nor-Easters is that the proposed 2018 budget will increase an additional $5 per year to support the high snow removal and snow and tree care costs. The 2018 proposed budget will be an average increase of $75 per household (based on an assessed value of approximately $312,0000.)

Please join us on Tuesday, April 10th at 7pm in Town Hall as the Township formally introduces the 2018 Budget. Questions are always welcome, as this is a complicated process.

We have survived an unusual amount of snow this year. As we “get back to normal”, we appreciate both your patience and understanding. We are all in this together.

Mayor Bob Woodruff

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29 Park Avenue  •  Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922  •  (908) 464-2700