Fanwood Hires Two Officers, Discusses New Sewer Rates

By SUSAN ALACCHI
For The Leader/Times

FANWOOD — Mayor Colleen Mahr opened Monday’s meeting of the governing body with the flag salute and a moment of silence for Ken Blom, who passed away suddenly on Sunday. Mr. Blom was an employee of the borough as assistant foreman of the Fanwood Department of Public Works since August of 2000.

Captain Joe Vendas of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office was introduced as Officer in Charge of the Fanwood Police Department. Councilwoman Patricia Walsh introduced a resolution authorizing the hiring of two patrol officers — Christopher Eckerson, most recently of the Kean University Police Department, and Christopher Piniero, formerly with the Gibbsboro Police Department in Camden County. The resolution was passed unanimously and the officers were sworn in Tuesday.

Councilwoman Erin McElroy Barker explained how the borough struggled to make the sewer rate billing more equitable to all businesses and residents. T&M Associates made a presentation explaining the sewer study. The bills had been based on the prior year’s water usage, but T&M suggested balancing the commercial users who had paid a higher proportion of the costs.

The new proposed rates would allow for residential users to pay a fixed $75 fee for up to 35,000 gallons, $150 for up to 70,000 gallons and $30 for every 10,000 gallons over 70,000. There would be a cap on the maximum residential bill of $1,000 per year.

According to T&M, 75 percent of residences will fall into the first two categories.

A similar billing structure is proposed for commercial buildings, but with no maximum cap. Commercial users would pay a fixed $75 fee for up to 35,000 gallons, $300 for up to 70,000 gallons and $70 for every 10,000 gallons over 70,000. T&M projects that the total revenue will be $84,000.

Mixed-use properties also will have a tiered rate with no cap. They will pay a $75 fee for up to 35,000 gallons, $225 for up to 70,000 gallons and $50 for every 10,000 gallons over 70,000.

Borough Administrator Rayna Harris reported that a leak was discovered on the Borough Hall roof. It also was discovered that the roof had been repaired in the past and has two layers. That means the roof needs to be removed and replaced. It also was suggested that all borough roofs should be inspected. Officials agreed this should be done.

The Fanwood court administrator is retiring and Councilwoman McElroy Barker said the borough is close to finding a replacement. An ordinance was approved for the appointment of Catherine Frank as deputy municipal court administrator.

Councilwoman McElroy Barker also said there are rumors that the budget has been finalized. However, the sewer system billing needs to be finished before the budget can be finalized. No budget is finalized or announced.

Engineer Antonios Panagopoulos is trying to get work moving on various projects. Mayor Mahr asked that he send letters to all residents who will be impacted by the work. He attended a meeting with the county about truck traffic through the borough. It was found that the truck traffic is considerably less than in other parts of the county. He also will meet with PSE&G for the electric-vehicle charging stations. They are being considered for installation by La Grande behind the stores on Martine Avenue. There is some concern because of apartment residents who park there. Mr. Panagopoulos said there is not any other realistic location. It was not possible to use the train station because there is only permit parking. Mr. Panagopoulos said he will look further into finding other appropriate locations.

Councilman Jeffrey Banks reported that the library is looking into where to store things temporarily while a new library is under construction. Containers are being considered, with one container serving as an office. These containers will need electricity and temperature control. Councilwoman McElroy Barker suggested using the parking lot at the pocket park by the Carriage House.

Chief Financial Officer Fred Tomkins said the state grant for the library has been signed. The federal government also has a grant available for up to $250,000 which can help with the library construction. Mayor Mahr asked that a report be given at the next meeting to inform the community of the fund-raising the library is doing.

Councilwoman Katherine Mitchell said the board of health is trying to get vaccines to residents who are homebound. The mayor said anyone having trouble getting the vaccine can contact her for assistance.

Fanwood Director of Economic Development Liz Jeffery said the survey regarding downtown development has been a great success. A summary will be posted after the survey closes on Friday, April 9.

Mayor Mahr explained that since the governor signed legislation to legalize cannabis, municipalities can either opt in or out to allow cannabis to be sold within their borders. If a municipality takes no action, it is viewed as opting in for a five-year period. Mayor Mahr suggested forming a committee to study this. Borough Attorney Russell Huegel said it makes sense to take time to study all the parameters and then let the council review it. Mayor Mahr asked Mr. Huegel to give the council a memo describing the different types of licenses, and Mayor Mahr will put together a working group.

There were no public comments and the meeting was adjourned.

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