The month of March brought some severe weather. We saw a significant amount of snowfall accompanied with hazardous road conditions. The March 21 Budget Meeting was rescheduled due to the nor'easter that made its way to our area the night before. Despite the scheduling setback, we managed to conclude our budget hearings before the end of the month.
2018 Municipal Budget The budget process is never easy, especially in an age of budget caps that are below the rate of inflation. Basically we have to, at a minimum, deliver the same level of services every year with a limited capacity of raising revenues to meet the increased cost of delivering those services. Changes to federal income tax laws at the end of 2017 have adversely impacted many of our residents by sharply reducing the amount of state and local income taxes ("SALT") they can deduct in determining taxable income. Mindful of this, we worked very hard with our department heads to come up with a budget that would not place an additional undue burden on our residents. On April 11, the Village Council will introduce a municipal budget with a property tax increase of 0.99% over 2017. Please note this is just the municipal budget and does not include the Board of Education or the county. Street Paving We are continuing the improvements to our roads in 2018. We recently funded $2,489,852 for paving and resurfacing. Harsh winters and infrastructure work by PSE&G have wreaked havoc on our roads. Many residents have expressed concerns over the conditions of many of our roads. It is important to note that not all of the roads in town belong to the Village. Many roads belong to the county and the cost and responsibility of paving those roads falls on the county. Despite being a quaint town, Ridgewood has more county roads running through it than any other town in Bergen County, with a total of 15. Hackensack comes in second with only 11. Some of the roads with the worst conditions are county roads. For example, Franklin Avenue and Ridgewood Avenue from Paramus Road to Maple Avenue (only the portion between Maple and Broad belongs to the Village). Here is a complete list of the county roads that run through Ridgewood:
E Ridgewood Ave
E Saddle River Rd
Van Emburgh Ave
The county is working on their $13 million paving and resurfacing program. Their work in our area will begin with E Ridgewood Avenue from Rt 17 to Maple Avenue. In the meantime, we are pleased to announce our 2018 Ridgewood Paving List:
Replacement of Maple Park Turf Field On March 14, the Village Council adopted a resolution to appropriate funding for the replacement of the turf field at Maple Park. $500,000 was appropriated from the Open Space Trust Fund to replace the turf field. This money will be reimbursed to the Open Space Trust Fund, in whole or in part, by the adoption of a bond ordinance.
The existing turf field was installed in late 2006. The field is now four years past its warranty and nearing the end of its expected life. During its life, the turf field has been heavily used for various sports including football, lacrosse, soccer, and softball. The Village had originally anticipated replacing the field in late summer. However, the decision was made to accelerate the replacement to late spring given safety concerns due to the hardening of the surface. The blades are worn to the point where they can no longer hold the necessary infill to make the surface safe to play in terms of softness. Also, the blades no longer provide enough grip, further increasing the risk of injury. Scheduling of games and practices at Maple Park have been cancelled by the Board of Ed and various sports organizations. On March 5, the Village closed down Maple Field citing safety concerns.
The appropriation from the Open Space Trust Fund gave us the ability to replace the field quickly. The Village is currently analyzing several options to facilitate contributions from sports organizations to defray current replacement costs as well as the possibility of creating a sinking fund to cover future replacement costs. The new field will be completed in late spring to early summer, in time for the Ridgewood Summer Day Camp.
Hudson Street Garage Following presentations from the four developers that responded to the Village's RFP, the Village Council selected two of the four developers to continue negotiations. The negotiations began in March, with the goal of selecting a final proposal that balances the best fit, value, functionality, and design. Designating the existing Hudson Street lot as an area in need of redevelopment in 2017, has allowed us the opportunity to negotiate directly with the construction companies, instead of simply accepting or rejecting the bids. An additional benefit of the redevelopment zone designation is that the Village does not have to post the usual deposit for the bond which, for this project, could have been up to $600,000. The results of the negotiations will be discussed in Closed Session on April 11.
School Resource Officer (SRO) Without question, tragic events like the one in Parkland FL, compel us to reevaluate the safety of our children. Many states have even begun to shift education funds to school safety. I have always been in favor of having a School Resource Officer in our schools. SROs are commissioned law enforcement officers assigned to schools. In addition to responding to incidents on school grounds, they also work closely with faculty and staff to prevent crime, bullying and violence. SROs receive special training and can be a vital component in community building by building trust and opening lines of communication with students. We need SROs in our schools. As the Council liaison to the Board of Education, I continue to implore the Board to partner with the Village to bring SROs to our schools. The Village has offered to pay for half of the cost but allocate 70% of the SRO's time to the Board of Education. When school is not in session (30% of the work year), the SRO will be on regular duty for the Village. I hope the Board will accept our generous offer.
In the meantime, we have police officers rotating through our schools while we are working to install a full-time dedicated SRO.
Business Highlight Congratulations to SMOKED of Ridgewood for winning Best BBQ at the North New Jersey BBQ Showcase/Throwdown! The event took place on Thursday March 15 at the Garden State Plaza and drew some of the top BBQ artisans in the state. Stop in to personally congratulate Dee and Richard and try their signature smoked brisket Friday thru Sunday. SMOKED is located at:
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Ramon M. Hache Sr Councilman Village of Ridgewood 201-670-5500 Ext. 201
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