Gloucester Township council considers $6.2 million bond for this year’s capital budget.
At its Jan. 8 meeting, Gloucester Township Council passed two bond ordinances on first reading. The funds, part of this year’s upcoming capital budget, will benefit various pieces of capital equipment and construction and completion of capital improvements, including a $6,198,323 bond and a $1,400,000 bond, specifically designated for stormwater drainage improvements.
For general obligation bonds, council has to put down 5 percent before borrowing the rest. Council would provide a down payment of $295,158 for the $6 million bond.
Of this particular bond, roughly $2 million would be used to finance the reconstruction of various township sidewalks, including Cherrywood Drive, Hillcrest Lane, Coles Road and John Road. These projects have a period of usefulness for up to 10 years.
Roughly $72, 876 would be set aside for improvements of recreational areas, including the township pool and recreation center, which also has a decade-long period of usefulness.
Some other projects include the installation of traffic signals and street lighting, costing around $169,000 for a five-year period of usefulness, and improvements to township buildings such as the municipal hall, recreation center and public works building, costing around $898, 300 for 15 years.
Also, roughly $1,195,264 would be designated for the police department, encompassing patrol rifles, computers, radio equipment, mobile data terminals, body cameras, traffic safety equipment and all-wheel drive vehicles, configuring a period of usefulness for five years.
The drainage-related bond would benefit the replacement of stormwater piping at Cherrywood Drive and Kelly Driver Road and the replacement of the headwall at Signey Lane. This period of usefulness is set to last 40 years.
Some members of the public voiced concerns about borrowing $6 million for capital projects, saying these investments could potentially come from general funds.
“It always puzzles me that you’re sitting on a better part of $5 million in surplus, and we’re borrowing $6.2 (million),” said Ray Polidoro, chairman of the Gloucester Township Republican Municipal Committee. “You have cash in your pocket, but you’re still swiping a card.”
He suggested a compromise, such as borrowing $3 million from surplus, while taking out a $3 million bond.
However, the township’s business administrator, Tom Cardis, said considering these capital projects require several years or perpetual years of financing, these investments must be made through the bond market, according to state laws.
“Those monies do not get commingled,” Cardis said. “ You do not look at the surplus in the general fund and say we’re that going to use that surplus for the capital budget.”
He says all the projects have useful life qualities that are “prescribed” by the state. From there, the state determines how long council can borrow that money.
“That is not the way the state tells us to do our funding,” Cardis said. “We need to buy the things we need to buy so we can safely protect this community.”
Council made no mention of how these projects would affect residents’ taxes.
A public hearing regarding these bonds is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. upon the second reading of these ordinances.
Two bond ordinances passed on first reading was originally published in The Sicklerville Sun on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.