Mayor McCarthy spoke prior to the vote, stating that the budget is not “lean,” and said that he feels there is money available in the budget that could be reduced. Of the $73.7 million total budget, $56.9 million is to be raised from local taxes. As discussed at last week’s conference meeting, the final budget is scheduled to be adopted on June 5, 2013. The mayor and council can continue to make changes in the weeks ahead.
At the beginning of the meeting, Bloomfield Soccer Club president Barry Weiner spoke about the success of the soccer club, pointing out that they have 1100 children participating and that they accommodate children at every age and level of play. He also asked if, “in the course of time,” a piece of land becomes available, that the council consider turning it over to the soccer club for a new soccer field.
During the public comment period, Republican mayoral candidates Rich Galioto, Sr. and Russell Mollica both spoke. Galioto said that council members should not meet one-on-one with developers, and commented on crime and school safety. Mollica cited a number of private meetings that council members had had with the Chairman of the Democratic County Committee, Peter Strumolo, and questioned, “Who is running the town?” He also asked when the township administrator, Ted Ehrenburg, was moving to Bloomfield, as living in town is a requirement of his position.
Prior to the business portion of the meeting, Councilman Bernard Hamilton questioned why the resolution pertaining to protection of the Bloomfield shelter animals that had been voted on at last week’s conference meeting was not on the agenda. At that time, the council had voted unanimously to pass a resolution to include the protections guaranteed by the Companion Animal Protection Act in the township’s animal ordinance. Township attorney Brian Aloia said that he took responsibility for that, as he assumed Hamilton wanted the protections included as part of the animal ordinance, which the township administrator is in the process of revising. He said including the provisions in the ordinance would be stronger than just passing a resolution. Hamilton was satisfied with that answer, and explained after the meeting that his main concern is ensuring the protections are permanent.
In other business, the ordinance governing the Open Space Trust Fund was amended on first reading to revert to a tax of one-half cent for each $100 in assessed property value for property owners, retroactive to January 1, 2013. The tax had gone up to one cent per $100 in assessed value at the beginning of the year after a two-year temporary change to one-half cent. This change makes the half-cent tax permanent unless the council later votes to change it again.
The ordinance regulating the use of cellphones and cameras during open public meetings of the governing body passed on second reading. The ordinance requires anyone planning to photograph or record such meetings must notify the municipal clerk 30 minutes in advance, requires all cellphones to be set on vibrate, and any pictures taken from the seats be done unobtrusively. It also forbids any texting or other communications between council members about official business during council meetings, among other stipulations.
The next council meeting will be a conference meeting to be held in the mayor’s conference room on the second floor of the law enforcement building at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 22, 2013.