Vernon wants to borrow $4 million for townwide improvements

Vernon. The money will be used for trucks and other equipment, including an ambulance, plus roadwork, sidewalks, and open space.

Vernon /
| 20 May 2021 | 02:43

The Vernon Township Council on May 10 introduced a $4 million bond ordinance to make various improvements throughout the township.

The ordinance calls for purchasing new and additional equipment for the Department of Public Works, gear and a vehicle for the fire departments, roadwork, curb, sidewalk, the purchase of a dump truck, and truck radios for the DPW and an ambulance.

The township also plans to improve township-owned properties and facilities, including upgrading the football field at Maple Grange Park and installing new lighting at the snack bar.

“Things break, things go forward, and we certainly don’t want to go through what we did at the Maple Grange field, where we were closing them,” said township council President Harry Shortway. “We have to replace the tanker, and the Ambulance Corps needs another ambulance. You have to spend money on these types of items.”

The township plans to buy and install tanks for the fueling station and a tanker truck for the fire department.

The ordinance also includes construction of a new bike pump track and a bicycling and walking path, along with paving and other roadway and parking lot improvements.

The public hearing on the ordinance, which authorizes the township to borrow $3.13 million, is scheduled for May 24.

“That’s probably one of the biggest bond ordinances that we’ve had in years,” township resident Jessie Paladini said. “I think it’s outrageous that this mayor council is going to put us that much more money into debt.”

The township’s chief financial officer, Donelle Bright, said last year’s debt total was 1.072 percent. With the passage of this ordinance, the total will be 1.070 percent because debt was paid down already this year, she said.

“With this increase, we’re still going to see a decrease in our overall debt,” said Bright. “This is not going to raise taxes.”

Pump track and trail

The last portion of the ordinance includes $900,000 to improve municipally owned property. That amount includes nearly $292,000 from the township’s Open Space Fund.

Township resident Matt Conway said the pump track was supposed be built by an all-volunteer work force, and that he knows someone who offered to do the work for free.

“I didn’t get a single reply from anybody, and now we’re spending $900,000 at a time when we’re coming out of a pandemic,” Conway said. “I think this is irresponsible.”

Bright said the pump track is budgeted at $175,000, and the biking/walking trail at $195,000. Most of the $900,000 allotment is for needed road improvements, she said.

Councilman Andrew Pitsker said the ordinance costs the average township home, assessed at $206,000, about $32 per year, and the pump track portion about $5.80 per year.

Township Mayor Howard Burrell called the ordinance a smart investment. “We really need to invest in our town,” he said.

The ordinance sets a maximum amount the township can borrow for projects, but the township can spend and bond for less if estimates come in lower.

“Things break, things go forward, and we certainly don’t want to go through what we did at the Maple Grange field, where we were closing them.” Harry Shortway