Hopewell Twp donates equipment to Ukraine, continues budget talks focussing on department spending

The Hopewell Township Committee met for a special meeting on March 14 to discuss a way to help Ukraine as well as to continue discussions about the 2022 Township Municipal budget, specifically department operating budgets.

In Police Director Robert Karmazin’s absence, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger read a ‘walk-on item’ to the Committee agenda. The Police Department requested the donation to Ukraine of their out of service bullet proof vests, which normally would be destroyed.

“A vendor by the FBI has solicited departments wanting to donate old bullet proof vests, which will be collected and transferred to Ukraine,” read Ruger. 

Ruger explained that for this donation to happen, the Committee has to give approval,by Resolution. The item was agreed upon amongst the Committee, and the resolution will be on the agenda for next week’s meeting. 

Ruger then turned the meeting over to Committee member, Kevin Kuchinski. 

“We’re partially through the operating budget, we have reviewed the largest departments in prior meetings. We want to get to a point over the next coming weeks where we can finalize the budget and get things moving for 2022,” said Kuchinski. 

Treasurer Julie Troutman began with the health department budget, sharing numbers on the screen with the Committee.

Health Officer Dawn Marling gave an overview of her department operating budget. “The operating budget request is an overall decrease of $13,600 for 2022, and the bulk of that will be coming out of the professional services area,” Marling explained. 

Marling stated that the department has tightened up estimates for vendors based on historical usage, and the fact that the department has not been spending as much of what had been previously budgeted.

“We have not seen the need to use the Mercer County tv screening, or the geologists, so a number of those items are in there as buffers in case grant funding goes away,” said Marling.  

Another area that saw a major decrease was the health database, dropping from $10,000 to $2,000. 

Troutman then moved on to community development, turning the meeting over to Planning Board engineer, James Hutzelmann. The department has $5,000 set aside for a comprehensive farmland plan. 

Hutzelmann explained to the Committee that the 2021 farmland preservation plan element of the Master plan needs to be updated, as it was last documented and approved in 2012.  

There is also an additional $2,000 for community development for other things that may come up throughout the year, as well as $6,100 budgeted for SDL, the platform used for inputting data. 

Troutman moved on, sharing the recreation budget. “The recreation budget is for our full-time staff who …operate our recreation programs, some of these items include summer camps and other various activities,” explained Troutman.  Recreation’s request of $2,200 for operating supplies is higher than last year because of the potential of bringing on a part-time person to help the department through the hectic summertime schedule.  

The Committee talked about repurposing computers as a potential solution, rather than buying new technology for departments. After going through all the departments, Ruger read a resolution authorizing a professional services agreement; the resolution passed. 

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