Editor's Notebook: Feb. 14 Council Meeting
Council Liaison reports, a precautionary ordinance and a draft resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of Eastern Christian Elementary School were discussed at the rather quick and quiet Feb.14 council meeting that included minimal public comment. Council President Nancy Peet gave an update on the ongoing collaborative efforts between the municipality and schools, Mayor Bud O'Hagan reminded residents about coffee with the mayor this Saturday and Councilman Scott Pruiksma gave updates on the rec department.
The 2013 Municipal Budget is a work in progress, Councilman Mike Junta reported. As a precautionary measure, the councilman introduced a precautionary ordinance to exceed the 2.5% cost of living cap, which would allow the municipal budget to increase up to 3.5% if necessary. Borough Clerk-Administrator Addie Hannah explained proposed ordinance 01-13 serves as a safety net that gives officials greater flexibility in creating a budget. The ordinance is a "standard procedure" that the borough has "not needed to use in the past," she said.
In other finance news, the council passed an "emergency temporary budget" resolution for $10,000 in repairs to borough emergency vehicles. The work was done in December and billed in January. Hanna said the resolution was more of a formality than an emergency, because standard temporary budgets may only occur once a quarter and any subsequent changes must fall under "emergency".
In-depth reports of previous budgets are available on the borough's website.
Contracts & Liscenses
The borough also finalized contracts for recycling. Galaxy Carting will perform curbside pick-up and Atlantic Coast Fibers will will dispose of the material. The borough receives reimbursement or recycled goods.
The borough also approved the contract with Borough Attorney Robert T. Regan and grant writers Capital Alternatives. Fees for grant writing are paid by a percentage of the grant award and are not an expense to taxpayers. The group has successfully acquired many grants for Midland Park, primarily for road repairs.
Council President Peet gave an update on the ongoing subcommittee meetings between the school and municipal governing bodies. Additionally, she met with a School Resource Officer from Wayne Hills as the borough continues to explore the option of having a full- or part-time police officer in the schools. The goal of a SRO is work with students as an advocate rather than an adversary.
Mayor O'Hagan reported he received notification about a $1,000 scholarship opportunity for high school seniors living in Midland Park. The New Jersey League of Municipalities is offering the Louis Bay 2nd Future Municipal Leaders scholarship, which was named for the former mayor of Hawthorne. Anyone who is interested should contact Mayor O'Hagan at borough hall. A Midland Park resident has previously won the scholarship twice and it is open to all students, regardless of whether they attend public or private school.
Eastern Christian Elementary School on Baldin Avenue is celebrating its centennial this year, which borough official plan to commemorate with a resolution, currently in draft status. The draft, which was on the agenda for the work session and brought up during the public portion of the meeting, gives a brief history of the former Midland Park Christian School which was founded in 1913.
The wording of the draft, however, was questioned by a resident during the public portion of the meeting. The section in question reads: "WHEREAS it is evident that Christian education is needed more today than ever before to teach the principles of Christianity and to encourage the use of these principles in day-to-day living and to make our youth good citizens."
Members of the governing body asserted that the resolution is "not an endorsement of the schools or their religion or anything more than acknowledging their centennial," and said it would take the wording under consideration.
Fire Department Update
Councilman Jack Considine reported about a new safety law governing elevator master keys which the Fire Department is actively addressing with local businesses to ensure code compliance.
In addition, Councilman Pruiksma reported on a working fire earlier this month, which the Midland Park Fire Department did an excellent job containing. The fire started in a garbage can outside the home and the fire was quickly knocked out with minor damage to the home. Pruiksma noted that anytime there is a working fire, the fire whistle is set off as a back up alarm to the pagers.
Baseball and softball sign ups are currently underway at the Rec center, along with several other offerings, including a Mini-Golf event in Waldwick, a Volleyball clinic and Yoga. The Baseball-Softball parade is set for April 13.
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