Township Council Holds First 2017 Budget Hearing, Told Of $400,000 Increase In Water Cost
The Township Council held the first of two scheduled budget hearings on Feb. 13, with a handful of department heads on hand to make the case for their budget requests.
The second budget hearing is slated for Feb. 21, and the council is expected to introduce the 2017 budget later in the month.
Presenting their requests on Feb. 13 were the engineering, public works, water and information technology departments, as well as parks and recreation. The council also heard general capital purchasing requests and open space fund requests.
Township Manager Robert Vornlocker is responsible for putting the budget together, in consultation with department heads and the Township Council.
Vornlocker told the council that it’s going to cost more than $400,000 more to purchase water used by township residents this year, and that the overall water utility costs will increase by about $3 million.
The higher water cost, he said, is due to the fact that the cost of water from New Jersey American Water – one of several sources from which the township buys water – increased $422,500 for this year.
Vornlocker said the largest part of the overall $3 million increase was due to bonded and non-bonded capital budget increases.
Among the needs requests the council heard was $850,000 to replace the police department’s radio system.
Vornlocker told the council that the radios in the department’s dispatch center have “reached their end-of-life. Motorola will no longer provide a maintenance contract after 2017.”
Vornlocker said part of the cost will be paid for with leftover money from the township’s radio tower project of several years ago.
“We’ll put $500,000 from the capital budget” toward the project, he said. The remaining $350,000 will have to come from the upcoming budget.
“It’s absolutely vital,” he said the of the replacement project. “If this equipment fails, there’s no way to replace it.”
The council was also asked for $590,000 to finish putting in sidewalks on streets around Franklin Middle School.
Vornlocker said construction on the first four streets in the program should start in the spring, with the remainder of the streets covered in the project’s second phase.
The middle school, he said, has the highest number of children walking to school, many on roads without sidewalks.
He said planning for the second phase could be done while the first phase construction is being completed.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the increase in the cost of water to the township.
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