PHILLIPSBURG N.J. – Members of Phillipsburg Town Council and the mayor have signaled their support to suspend late fees for sewer and tax bills until the state lifts its COVID-19 emergency declaration.
At Thursday night’s council meeting, held remotely through Zoom, a teleconferencing app, Councilwoman Danielle DeGerolamo asked the council to place a resolution to suspend the penalties on its next council agenda.
It’s a small gesture, but “something we can offer to those not getting paychecks,” she said.
Mayor Todd Tersigni agreed, calling it “a good gesture” and urged the council to support the measure.
Tersigni said the move would be “above board,” noting that unemployment claims will continue to rise as the state and local municipalities face economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New Jersey ranks fourth among states with the number of workers who have filed for unemployment benefits.
Later in the meeting, DeGerolamo and other council members thanked town staff and emergency personnel for their work during the pandemic, urging calm and expressing hope that society will emerge stronger after the pandemic ends.
DeGerolamo urged residents to look out for one another and remain calm, optimistic and at home.
“We will come out stronger and wiser and more appreciative of our community,” she said.
Council Vice President Frank McVey said the mayor faces a difficult situation as the town tries to move past its financially stressed situation in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. If Phillipsburg can get through this time, it will be able to get through anything, he said. McVey said he’s been noticing how more people are waving to one another, a sign that communities will end up stronger than before.
Council President Randy Piazza Jr. thanked all departments, whose employees are “working twice as hard with half as much” to keep the town safe.
Tersigni advised all residents to follow state and federal guidelines and stay at home to help control the spread of the virus.
In other business, the council unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance that would appropriate $750,000 from the sewer utility capital improvement plan to fund labor, materials and equipment to make improvements to the municipal sewer system. Upgrading the aging sewer system is one of Tersigni’s stated goals.