Local business, township-provided services and growing the surplus were among the key goals Bordentown Township hopes to focus on this year, according to township Mayor Jim Cann.
Cann began his term as mayor in January 2015, succeeding 2014 mayor Stephen Benowitz. It is the second time Cann will serve as mayor in Bordentown Township; his first term was in 2013.
Looking forward to 2015, Cann said the township’s three main goals were really a continuation of efforts already begun in 2014. The first goal throughout 2014, Cann said, was reflected in the work Benowitz had started with the Economic Development Advisory Committee to put a strong focus on marketing the township and bringing in new business.
One of the most noteworthy projects right now is the construction of the Grainger warehouse, which is set to partially open in the first quarter of 2016.
“Once it’s up and running,” Cann said, “it’s going to bring quite a bit of tax relief, it’s going to bring jobs, not just to Bordentown Township, but to the city and the surrounding area. It’s also a magnet for other businesses, and we’re already seeing that.”
The construction alone, Cann said, has also encouraged the development of other properties around the warehouse, the most obvious example being the installation of a foundation for a 217,000 square foot warehouse just down the road from the Grainger site.
Other ongoing projects include the opening of the AT&T store where the vacant Burger King had once been located, the Edgewood Motel site had been cleared for construction of a Holiday Inn Express, and Cheyenne Mountain Outfitters had already begun renovations and improvements to the former Papp’s Bowling Alley.
“We want to attract good businesses…one of our goals was to take what I think a lot of people thought of as a negative—all the roadways in the township—and we felt that needed to be converted into a positive,” Cann said.
Part of the work done with the EDAC was to encourage already established businesses along the township roadways to spruce up or enhance their appearance to help make the township more attractive to new business.
The second focus was on improving and expanding township services. In addition to the typical township services—police, fire, sewer and trash collection—Cann hoped to continue some of the newer traditions brought into the township, some as recently as last year, such as continuing the 4th of July fireworks display, Easter egg hunt, Music in the Park concerts, wellness and environmental fairs, and other similar services. Cann also noted that the township utilizes shared services with several surrounding municipalities.
Financial focus and growing the surplus is the third main goal of this year, Cann said, noting that there are three different ways the township is budgeting for unexpected expenses.
The first is a bond reserve that can only be touched if the township is faced with a true emergency situation. That fund currently has about $400,000, Cann said. The main surplus is currently at more than $450,000. Finally, the township is also setting money aside in the event there are any future tax appeals.
In regard to the budget, Cann said, municipal taxes were lowered last year and are on track to be lowered again this year. He also said the township hopes to this year pay off its $3 million loan from 2010, which was used to pay back tax appeals.
As of press time, the township was also in the process of hiring a full time township administrator, a position that had not been filled since 2011. The position had been cut due to budget constraints, Cann said, and was never filled again until now. For the past year, three other municipal employees had been collaborating in addition to their other responsibilities to fill the role of township administrator.
And still, another project under consideration is the township municipal building itself.
“Our heating plan is from 1955, and it requires air conditioning to be running year round downstairs for the police department,” Cann said, noting that the building is in need of repairs and is not ideal for the functioning of different departments; the township EMS services are even housed at a city fire station.
While the topic is merely a discussion at this stage, Cann cautioned, he hoped that over the course of 2015, the township would be able to do some serious research about the potential costs of either renovating the current municipal building or rebuilding it completely, likely on another site in the township.
Having the full time administrator in place will also help with that research, Cann said, noting that he also hopes to eventually explore a five-year plan for the township.
Progress continues on other projects throughout the township, too. The fourth of five buildings—the second of two St. Francis buildings—on the Team 85 campus is nearing completion, just leaving the construction of the central Team 85 Fitness and Wellness building.
The Bradlees property was sold, and the apartments at the Waterfront Transit Village were open to tenants.
Progress also continues on the road program started last year, with construction expected to be completed this year on five roads.