Hopewell Township Committee issues numerous proclamations; approves .001 increase to budget

The Hopewell Township Committee met May 16 to hear a number of presentations and to officially adopt the 2022 budget. After a roll call, Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning initiated a moment of silence for all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19. 

“The United States passed one million deaths from COVID-19, and with the local cases surging and us being virtual tonight, I would like to take a minute,” said Peters-Manning. Committee member David Chait then addressed the Committee. 

“At this moment we are now two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and have reached this devastating milestone of losing one million Americans. All of us have been touched by this pandemic in one way, shape, or form. Recognizing those who have lost their lives, we would like to start this meeting with a moment of silence,” said Chait. 

Peters-Manning then began the meeting recognizing Lieutenant James Rosso’s promotion to the Hopewell Township Chief of Police. Chief Rosso has been with the Hopewell Township Police Department for 19 years, serving as a Patrol Officer, Sergeant, and Lieutenant. 

“I’m honored to have been given this privilege to lead the men and women of the Hopewell Township Police Department, and to serve the Hopewell Valley community. I am humbled by the number of friends, family and coworkers who are in attendance this evening for this special occasion,” said Rosso. Peters-Manning then recognized a proclamation for National Police Week. 

A second proclamation, in recognition of National Public Works Week, followed. As public works liaison, Chait explained this week’s theme of ‘Ready and Resilient.’ 

“As we know, public works professionals are always ready to serve their communities and [are] resilient when encountering challenges. This theme highlights the ability of these professionals to perform regular public work duties, be ready at the moment’s notice and to react to first responders during natural disasters,” said Chait. 

The Committee also recognized May 15-21 as Emergency Medical Services Week with the theme being ‘Rising to the Challenge.’ This theme reminds people that, everyday, EMS workers are faced with so many challenges, and yet still rise above to serve their communities. 

Committee member Kevin Kuchinski read a proclamation that decrees the first Friday in June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day. “Everyday, 110 Americans are killed by gun violence, alongside 200 who are shot and wounded. On average there are more than 16,000 gun homicides every year. Americans are 26 times more likely to die by gun homicide than people in other high-income countries, ” said Kuchinski.   

“By wearing orange on Jun 3, 2022, Americans will raise awareness about gun violence and honor the lives of gun violence victims and survivors,” Peters-Manning added.

The final presentation was from Jersey Meds Management, an application to be a class 5 cannabis retailer. Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger turned the meeting over to Sheila Mints, chair health care and cannabis law department in Mount Laurel law firm Capehart Scatchard.   

Mints gave an overview of the planned layout model located on 2566 Pennington Road, which is a 1,900 square foot retail space in a plaza that includes a variety of other businesses. The distance from all schools, playgrounds and athletic fields is greater than 1,000 feet. The Committee deferred action on the application until the next meeting.*

Kuchinski and treasurer Julie Troutman then presented the 2022 Municipal Budget. Troutman started by giving an analysis of the average tax bill. The average person’s share of Municipal taxes is $2,122. The total revenue is $85,980. The 2022 budget adopted on May 16 contains an increase of .001 over 2021. The average residential property in Hopewell Township will see a property tax increase of $25 annually.

Kuchinski and Troutman also shared future debt reduction plans. These include utilizing new revenues from PILOTs to pay down other Township debt and fund direct purchase of new capital. They also are evaluating using surplus of Open Space monies to retire the debt on previous open space purchases. 

The next Hopewell Township Committee meeting is scheduled for June 13 (edited May 27 at 9:18pm to correct date – meeting originally scheduled for June 6 was moved due to the primary election).

*The sentence noting deferred action was added to this story May 26 at 12:23pm.

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