Bordentown Township sees changes in business and budget
Almost halfway through 2013, Bordentown Township has seen several changes, including the approval of a new municipal and school budget, changes and renovations to locals businesses and development.
One of these subtler but still very real changes is the new budget for the year. The average home in the township will see a municipal tax increase of $64.33 this year. Mayor Jim Cann said $32 of that increase is set to go toward paying the increase of debt service from the reevaluation due to tax appeals.
Cann went on to describe how the other $32 covers health insurance and some salary increases, and noted that employees will also have to contribute more to their insurance.
However, the mayor explained that township finances had also improved this year despite significant challenges.
One challenge the township has continued to face is tax appeals. In order to prevent future tax reevaluations from possibly hurting town finances too much, Cann said the township made a decision made to save some money as well to try to plan ahead.
“One of the things we did do was put a couple hundred thousand dollars away for future lost tax appeals,” he said. “We thought that was a fiscally prudent and sound policy.
“Also, our budget reserves have taken a real beating over the last 3 or 4 years, so we actually added a hundred thousand to the reserve this year. Of course, you don’t want to just throw money at things, but the importance is that it puts the town in a better position in the future.”
The school budget also changed this year. There were some increases, but according to school board president Lisa Hartmann, that money is going to the right places.
“I know that some people look at the bottom line of it being a $40-million budget, and the current times really create pause about what that means. But if you look at the budget, you’ll see that it’s prudent, and that it’s about the same as it was last year,” Hartmann said. “The taxes did go up but only by about $5,000. Employee benefits went up, but that’s just because health costs went up and grants decreased. The service payment actually went down this year about $200,000, so what did go up was our operating budget by about $1 million.”
Some of that money for the operating budget will go to hiring teachers for advanced placement courses, which are being put in place because of many requests from the public.
There will also be a speech therapist hired to give consistent help to the students who need it. There will also be a position for someone to be in charge of teacher evaluations and make sure those are being done in a fair and accurate manner. This will give the schools a head start on seeing how the teacher evaluations have evolved.
Development, renovations continue for township businesses and projects One of the most noticeable changes in the township is the Russ Ayres Hot Dog Stand on U.S. 206. The long-standing establishment recently had some renovations done to spruce up its appearance.
“We raised the façade of the building, went up to 17 feet when it used to be 12 or so,” owner Chris Baldassari said. “We put the bright yellow stucco on the building, the black awning with the logo on it, and the concrete barriers in for safety. We also put safety mats inside so people don’t slip. We did the landscaping and put new lights on the building to lighten it up a little bit.”
Baldassari said these extensive renovations, which took about a month to finish, were made in order to increase the visibility of Russ Ayres.
“People would often drive by and not stop because it used to look like a little garage on the side of the highway,” Baldassari said.
He also briefly commented on some controversy regarding his awnings, which essentially double as signs. Someone reported them to the government because the awnings still had to be approved.
“I’m not really sure exactly why there was a problem, but we’ve resolved it now,” he said. “It was really just one person who had a problem with it.”
According to Cann, another building that will soon be getting a makeover is the old vacant Burger King, which was bought by a cell phone company. However, the long-vacant Bradlees building will remain that way for the time being, despite rumors that someone was interested in the property.
Development has also begun on the Waterfront Transit Village, which was delayed for a long period of time because a road had to be moved in order for construction to start. But now all of the requirements have been met and work on that development should start soon.