The Guttenberg Town Council introduced four large bond ordinances at their Jan. 26 meeting, realizing they will have to deal with upcoming expenses like a new waterfront park, road repairs, and the Galaxy Mall tax refund.
The first ordinance was to authorize a $295,000 bond for the waterfront park on plot of land along River Road. The entire project, which is estimated to cost $450,000, will most likely not require use of this bond, Mayor Gerald Drasheff said. But it has to be passed just in case some of the money is needed. Because of grants and a Green Acre loan, the town only expects to pay for $50,000 of the project.
Chief Financial Officer Vince Buono said during the council caucus that he was still waiting for their former grant writing firm, Bruno Associates, to provide them with documentation detailing the town’s obligation.
Another ordinance was for a $600,000 bond that will be used to finance the Galaxy Mall tax refund over the next five years. The mall’s owners had appealed their last tax assessment.
They may not be the only ones to appeal. The town introduced an ordinance to use $370,500 for anticipated expenses including tax refunds that may occur in the future.
Also at the meeting, the town introduced a $225,000 bond for emergency 71st Street repair.
Buono explained that these four ordinances had to be reintroduced because their bond counsel said that “certain things weren’t filed precisely by the book” last time they were introduced.
They will be up for a final vote at the next council meeting.
Investigators receive shields
Four officers who trained last year as investigators in the new Guttenberg police investigation department were issued shields acknowledging their hard work.
Public Safety Director Michael Caliguiro said that since the inception of the program, investigations are often solved before he even gets to work. The investigators have been able to do follow-ups and investigations on incidents involving graffiti, prostitution, and break-ins.
“I’m proud to call them officers,” said Caliguiro, who said that after 29 years of police work, he is highly impressed with the crimes they were able to solve.
Officers Ralph Martinez, Jeffery Lugo, Juan Barrera and Michael Meawad received badges.
29 DUI arrests
There were four officers of the month for December, because of the number of Driving Under the Influence arrests they made during the state-wide initiative called “over the limit, under arrest.”
Special Police Office Joseph Keselica made the most arrests, a total of seven, and will receive a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Award, said Caliguiro.
Officer George Gunderman made the second most arrests at six. Officers Keith Hilcken and Michael Meawad were also honored for the arrests they made.
The four officers made a total of 21 arrests out of the department’s 29 for December.
Resident Vasilious Scoullos asked the council during the public portion of the meeting why the rate they pay to the North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority for garbage removal was $2 more than North Bergen’s $5.50 rate. He said that his M.U.A. bill is higher than his taxes.
“Guess what, we’re all paying part of this, if you like it or not.” – Vasilious Scoullos.
Drasheff said other municipalities that contract through North Bergen pay even higher rates, not that it made Guttenberg’s rate “good.”
Scoullos also thought that the M.U.A.’s 74 employees seemed to be too many.
“Guess what, we’re all paying part of this, if you like it or not,” said Scoullos. “You persist in not doing an audit because you think it shouldn’t be required. Well, guess what – there are a lot of things we shouldn’t be paying, and we’re paying.”
Scoullos also said the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue squad denied his Open Public Records Act request to find out what percentage of their budget represents Guttenberg’s over-$2 million contribution.
Town Attorney Charles Daglian said that Scoullos had to ask for a document, not an answer, and suggested he go to a NHRFR meeting to address them.