PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. – Phillipsburg Town Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved the second and final reading of an ordinance that will require landlords to pay for police services if tenants commit repeated unlawful actions.
Under the ordinance, a landlord will be required to pay for police services when a tenant is issued a summons after the third repeated police call in any 12-month period.
The ordinance is intended to address chronic police calls arising from public disturbances and nuisances — including excessively loud music or parties, public alcohol consumption, late-night noise and chronic dog barking — recurring in the same locations.
Police Chief Robert Stettner requested a new, stronger ordinance because he said the old one was vague and unenforceable.
Council President Frank McVey expressed hope that the new ordinance will be effective.
Warren Street upgrades
Another ordinance passed by council will provide for $880,000, including grants expected from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, to improve Warren Street.
The scope of the work will include ramp improvements to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, selected curb and sidewalk replacement, drainage repairs and improvements, and road base repairs followed by milling and overlay.
Summer construction is planned to avoid interference with school traffic.
Library tax referendum discussion
In other matters, councilmember Danielle DeGerolamo recommended that a referendum be placed on the ballot asking residents if they favor a library tax increase to fund the Phillipsburg Free Public Library.
She said the library tax has not been changed in a long time and noted that other town budgets are supporting the library's operations.
McVey and councilmember Randy Piazza Jr. indicated support for a referendum, but both said more information is needed before moving forward.
"We must look at everything in totality and make a decision that's in best interest of taxpayers," McVey said.
COVID-19 vaccines, a thank you
During the public comment section of the meeting, James Kern III, director of the Warren County Commissioners, thanked council for its advocacy and coalition-building efforts in securing COVID-19 vaccines for St. Luke's University Health Network's Warren Campus in Phillipsburg.
In a recent letter to Gov. Phil Murphy, Scott Wolfe, president of the campus, said the hospital may need to close its COVID-19 clinic due to lack of supplies.
Within 48 hours of council taking action, the hospital was back to distributing vaccines, Kern said.
"It really was appreciated," he said. "Cheers to a victory."