Police, Building Projects Focus Of Manchester Council Meeting

Council Vice President Craig Wallis, Lt. James Sharkey, Chief Lisa Parker, Captain Todd Malland and Council President Samuel Fusaro. (Photo by Sara Grillo)

MANCHESTER – A proclamation was read on behalf of Mayor Kenneth Palmer at a recent council meeting, designating August 2017 as Police Appreciation Month. Police Chief Lisa Parker was there to accept the proclamation and express her appreciation.

“I feel very spoiled, very fortunate and very lucky that I have formed these awesome relationships with people who really care about the community and really try to move the community forward,” said Chief Parker,” adding, “I know from talking with other chiefs that those relationships aren’t always there, so we’re a fortunate community. We get a lot of things done because we have a common goal.”

Parker also mentioned welcoming two new police officers to the force this past May, including new female patrolwoman Victoria Raub, who has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and previously served as a police officer in Long Beach and Evesham Townships. Also sworn in alongside Raub was Manchester Class II Special Officer Gavin Reilly.

“You can’t argue that our police force is the best,” said Council President Samuel Fusaro. “From command staff to our most recent recruits, all of them go beyond the call of duty.”

Financial Review & Growth

The township took a look back at last year’s finances and passed a resolution certifying the 2016 Municipal Audit.

Outside auditors reported that Manchester is in a very good financial position. All available funds have either a small or modest increases in their balances, which is a positive sign, as opposed to seeing dwindling balances.

Fusaro said that for the last two years, the township has averaged $130,000 in overpayments from the bank, as they tend to send extra money. Township CFO Diane Lapp said this is not always the bank’s fault, as the surplus can sometimes be because of rebates or money going into escrow.

Fusaro also reported that the township tax collector collected $91 million last year, which he was quick to point out was not all from municipal taxes. That number also includes county, school and all four utility fees: western, eastern, water and sewer.

“That’s a lot of dollars going through a very small number of people,” he said.

Also up last year were Uniform Construction Code permits and fees, by nearly half a million more than the township anticipated. Fusaro said that this signals growth and progress in the town. Connection fees for the eastern water and sewer both saw about $150,000 each, which he said shows that homes and businesses are coming into town and hooking up their sewer and water.

Projects On The Horizon

Due to water storage and pressure issues that hit Manchester residents particularly hard in the summertime, a water main extension will now allow water to be automatically pumped from the Toms River line into the Manchester line if pressure gets below the fire safety level, officials said. Water is already pumped from the Toms River line, but it has to be manually done.

“They have more than enough capacity to service us if we ever need it,” said Fusaro.

Ocean County officials came to a recent Manchester planning board meeting to discuss their progress on building the Western Facilities Transportation Garage on Ridgeway Blvd.

Manchester Town Hall (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

The site is 55 acres, but Fusaro said the area they will need to clear is only about 18 acres, which is less than a third. There will be a 200 foot buffer from Ridgeway Blvd. and a 500 foot buffer from the back end of Leisure Knoll.

Fusaro said that clearing will begin in September and the actual building will likely not start until January 2018.

“They’re really doing a nice job with keeping it to the rural habitat that it is currently,” said Fusaro.

Multiple buildings would be on site, including an administration building, communications tower and 5,000-square-foot salt building. Trucks are anticipated to roll out around 7 or 7:30 a.m. and return back to the garage around 3 p.m.

The garage would replace two county buildings that currently exist elsewhere and do not have the bandwidth to expand as they need to. Ocean County has owned the property for years, and initiated plans to build the county garage eight years ago.

Painting and repairing of the township’s water tower will also take off in the near future, and the township set aside $1.5 million in bonds to take care of it. Fusaro said this is something that is done on a fairly regular basis, and something that the township plans ahead for.