PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Phillipsburg Town Council moved Tuesday to undo a key ordinance and personnel decisions made by Mayor Stephen Ellis.
Notably, council voted to repeal parking ordinance O2017-07, with plans to rewrite hours and rates for municipal lots in workshop and have that section of town code active again before March 24.
Officials are trying to refresh the parking ordinance before tourists arrive in March for seasonal train events, which generate income for the town.
Council president Robert Fulper said the ordinance as it stood was assembled piecemeal and did not contain several amendments promised to business owners and fishermen the previous year.
While the ordinance was unarguably a good revenue source for the town, it needed to operate as a cohesive unit, Fulper said.
Council member Mark Lutz said he worried council was moving too quickly. Officials need to have numbers on how many municipal lots exist, the revenue at each and who is in charge of collection and enforcement, he said.
“[Otherwise] it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Council member Frank McVey said a reworked ordinance would provide the town with a proper way to enforce parking and fees at municipal lots.
“Throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing if it sticks is not a way to run the town,” he said.
Repealing and replacing the current ordinance before the Easter Bunny Train Ride would be a tight squeeze requiring a special meeting for one of the two required readings for any new ordinance, council member Joshua Davis argued.
Council vice president Danielle DeGerolamo said the rush would not be a problem.
“We did it last July,” she said.
The repeal passed 4-1 with Davis opposing.
Also, council voted to reduce salary or scope of duties for three town employees hired by Ellis.
Council transferred several duties, including pension and benefits supervisor, from Sam Cappello back to town clerk Victoria Kleiner. Capella was exceeding the duties he had been hired for, according to Fulper.
Council also reduced the salaries of Superintendent of Recreation Kelly Post-Sheedy and Sherry Corcoran, confidential aide to the mayor, as of the next pay period.
The votes fell in a 3-2 split, with Davis and Lutz opposing.
In other news, council members voted down two municipal service liens stemming from a 2017 pipe break that affected multiple units on Irwin Street.
The town usually fixes the main pipe and leaves the laterals — the pipes joining the building to the main — up to the property owner to fix. But the break was declared an emergency, allowing the town to do the lateral repairs.
Fulper indicated his intent to reimburse the individuals who had already paid their fees.
“This has to serve as a learning experience,” Fulper said. “A very expensive one.”
Phillipsburg tax collector Sandra Callery disagreed with council’s decision to waive the liens.
“We do not do repairs for private properties,” Callery said.
Liens are the township’s way of getting compensation if the individual does not pay the fees within the time limit. Without the two liens, the town could lose approximately $6,000 for its repair efforts.
Also, council meetings are now regularly held at Phillipsburg Housing Authority Community Building, 535 Fisher Avenue.
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