In the 2019 budget, the $750K specified for years 2020 through 2024 is simply a placeholder. There is no funding for the $750K. There is no guarantee on how much money we will receive from grants.
In simple terms:
15 year pavement improvement plan is a ranking system used to determine the conditions of all the roads in Berkeley Heights.
6 year capital road resurfacing plan was a strategic funding mechanism that provided the money necessary to perform the road resurfacing work.
Berkeley Heights roads have always been an issue. In order to effectively address the roads, in 2014, a 6 year STRATEGIC capital road resurfacing plan (bond ordinance) was introduced. This plan provided reserve of money to be used solely to pave roads. This strategic plan removed the year-to-year volatility of capital needs for roads.
The 15 year pavement improvement plan does not include funding. It is ranking system calculated by the Township Engineer and DPW Director. The rankings are updated annually. The 15 year pavement improvement plan acts as a guide to assist in planning road improvements. It provides estimated costs but does not provide the funding necessary to perform the work.
6 year capital road resurfacing plan was a strategic plan that bonds the money needed to fund road improvements. This will ensure roads will be paved regardless of other annual capital demands.
On August 12, 2014 a bond ordinance was adopted to provide improvements to various roads in the Township of Berkeley Heights. Improvements include, but not limited to, street signs, crack sealing, micro surfacing, milling, paving, curbing, catch basins and reconstruction.
The 6 year capital road resurfacing plan was a strategic plan that supplemented money received from grants to improve roads in Berkeley Heights quicker and more efficiently.
In June 2014, for the first time in Berkeley Heights history, the Township Engineer and DPW Director completed a Roadway Condition Survey (RCS) in an effort to empower the township to more efficiently formulate a 15 year Roadway Improvement Plan. This plan ranked the roads ranging from Poor to Excellent and defined a year-to-year breakdown of estimated costs and year the roads will be repaired.
This plan is reviewed and updated annually.
Last year candidates promised to "provide strict oversight and management to bring projects costs down and save taxpayer dollars" and "we will provide strict oversight on the Municipal Complex to prevent any additional cost overruns and make sure we realize all cost savings". As heard at Town Council meetings there have been many cost overruns and almost a $1 million dollar increase spending. ZERO cost savings.
When the new administration took over in January the project was on-time and under budget. Since January most reserves have been used and the project is delayed.
Councilman Couto voted NO to entering into a Shared Service Agreement with Union County for a DPW Director on January 1, 2019*. During the January 1st Reorganization meeting residents were assured that this was best for Berkeley Heights and only an interim appointment. It was also explained the new administration was looking to promote within and give longtime employees an opportunity to take on the DPW Director position.
During the next several months, Mr. Couto continued to express his concerns regarding the reduction of DPW resources and the fact that the contract favored Union County. On April 23rd an amended Shared Service Agreement was voted on that made the agreement more favorable for Berkeley Heights. Councilman Couto put his trust in the words "we can do it better" that the Shared Service Agreement would work and longtime staff would be entitled to attend training to allow them to fill the DPW Director position. To date, there is no mention of staff attending training or a plan to fill the interim part-time DPW Director.