CRANFORD — Cranford’s capital budget took center stage Tuesday evening as township officials offered up approval of expenses and explanations of things to come for the municipality in 2023.
Mayor Brian Andrews said it was a more “difficult” budget year with “unexpected expenses,” such as the rise in healthcare costs for the township, but said Chief Financial Officer Lavona Patterson helped get the budget where it needed to be. He also noted that there would be $143,500 going towards pedestrian improvements all over town, including studies of unsafe areas and repairs in other areas.
He added that there was $350,000 going towards the library for a new roof. Mr. Andrews said the library staff has had to put out buckets across the library to catch leaking water.
Jason Gareis, deputy mayor, said the largest expenditure on this year’s capital budget would be a new rescue truck for the fire department. Mr. Gareis said that while the vehicle started in Cranford as a ladder truck in 1980, it had been turned into a rescue truck in 1994. Since then, Mr. Gareis said, it has needed increasing maintenance, which came to a head when the maintenance shop the fire department uses needed to find a part on eBay.
Mr. Gareis said the new truck will take a bit to get to Cranford, since it usually takes anywhere from 30 to 36 months to build a new rescue truck. He also stated that the new rescue truck will have an air compressor that also can fill firefighters’ “breathing tanks” as well as being capable of carrying the water-rescue gear. While Mr. Gareis noted that this was for the capital budget and not the municipal budget, Ms. Patterson said the capital budget would be passed at a future meeting.
Commissioner Terrence Curran, head of the township’s finance committee, echoed the mayor’s sentiment regarding a hard budget year and thanked Ms. Patterson for helping the township navigate through it.
Mr. Curran explained that annual taxes for homes assessed at $182,000 would increase by about $104 this year. Mr. Curran also said Ms. Patterson is already beginning to talk about the budget for 2024 and that he felt comforted going into the next financial year.
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