Category Archives: Government

The Mayor and the Winter Fiasco

Well, I have to say, all of this brew-ha-ha about the mayor’s support personnel "misspeaking" the whereabouts of the mayor during the recent slew of snow storms has been enlightening and entertaining at the same time. 

The primary point that created all of this uproar was the fact that more than one person in the mayor’s office claimed that the mayor was our riding snow plows and tending to the city’s business at hand when in fact Bernie was relaxing in sunny Florida while the rest of us were packed into our houses amongst mountains of snow.   Now, why would someone in the mayors office claim that the mayor was around when in fact he was nowhere to be seen?  It’s not that anyone would be-grudge the mayor for taking some time off.  It’s a very hard job going around glad-handing everyone and hob-nobbing with all of the citizenry.  It’s the fact that the mayor seems to take off every winter for a month at a time.  Does that mean that he works for the remainder of the year without time off?  I would expect not. 

So please explain to my why a city official who is paid $80,000 a year to manage the city can go on an extended vacation every winter?  Is this a part-time job?  If it is then why is the city paying full-time wages? 

Maybe that is why his cronies needed to "misspeak" about his whereabouts. 

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Mayor Calls for Tax Cut

How is this for helping out the average Joe. Believe it or not Mayor Bernie Platt proposed a 3 cent cut in the tax rate Septe 14th.  This 3 cent cut in the tax rate will result in a $52 savings for the average home owner in Cherry Hill with a house rated at $140,000.

So how are they paying for this, you ask? Well, the township has been reducing costs by consolidating services, freezing payroll, and laying off staff. Fourteen employees were laid off last year which came out to a savings of $800,000.  

The township has also been  using green energy initiatives to help reduce the budget requirements. A solar panel project is set for installtion this fall which is expected to save $56,000 a year, and a new HVAC system is epected to reduce energy costs by another $36,000 annually.

In June council members approved a preliminary tax levy that assumed a $1 million budget cut. That was expected to keep municipal  taxes at the fiscal 2009 level, which is approximately $1,180 a year for municipal taxes.

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BioDiesel comes to Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill Township is going to fuel its municipal services vehicles with B20 biodiesel.  b20 biodiesel is a mixture of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum dieselthat can be used in a diesel engine without any modifications to the engine.

The township officially entered into the state’s Biodiesel Fuel Rebate Program at a July 13 Town Council meeting,  which cleared the way to using greener fuel.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, biodiesel blends, such as B20, reduce the emission levels and toxicity of diesel exhaust, substantially lowering the output of hydrocarbons, sulfate and particulate matter, among other hazardous air pollutants.

Biodiesel is generally made by chemically reacting vegetable oil, animal fat, and alcohol.

Sustainable Cherry Hill

It’s July 2020 and the people of Cherry Hill, NJ are just waking up to start their busy days. Mom hops on the new Cherry Hill bio diesel fueled jitney as she makes her way to work on the other side of town.

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Saccomano Admints to Taking Bribes

The former code enforcement director for Cherry Hill has admitted accepting bribes.  On June 16th Anthony Saccomanno pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

The Mayor’s office and city council members voted unananimously to seek to have his retirement benefits revoked.  They also want Saccomanno to pay restitution for any ill-gotten gains.

The NJ board will rule in Septemeber on the petition to revoke retirement benefits.

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Board of Freeholders Meeting March 19

The Camden County Board of Freeholders invite Cherry Hill residents to a town meeting on Thursday, March 19th, 6:30 pm at the Cherry Hill Library at 100 North Kings Highway.  This town meeting is an opportunity for residents to discuss issues that affect boht Cherry Hill and Camden County.  At 7:00 pm on the 19th, the regularly scheduled Freeholder’s meeting will be held at the library which residents are also welcomed to attend.

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Cherry Hill Tax Bill

From Mayor Platt’s Office

The Township issued estimated tax bills for the first quarter of 2009.  have already gone into great detail about why the state has forced us and 32 other fiscal budget municipalities to issue these bills, but I would like to offer an elementary breakdown of the average Cherry Hill tax bill since it was not contained in the estimated bills.

When you look at the average assessed Cherry Hill home the overall bill is broken down by four different taxing entities:
 

cherry hill taxes

At the end of the day, residents have seen an increase in their first quarter bill over their fourth quarter bill, due to a $96 increase from the School District a $65 increase from Camden County and a $1.50 increase from the Fire District.
As a quick aside, while Camden County did increase this quarter, it should be known that throughout the fiscal year they did drop their overall equalized tax rate in Cherry Hill.

Once again I would like to point out that the municipal portion of the average bill that pays for police, public works, code enforcement and the public library dropped since the last fiscal quarter by about $20. Additionally, the Township makes up a total of 13 percent of the total tax bill.

On that note I would like to take a moment to reiterate that my administration has proactively been working to weather the national economic meltdown by making painful cuts including layoffs, department consolidations, position eliminations, salary freezes for municipal employees and a 10 percent reduction in pay for me, the majority of Town Council and our business administrator.

This process has been very hard, but it is only a harbinger for the future because I will continue to push for more savings and I will be approaching our six unions and vendors to work with us to cut costs. This is a historic time and we all need pitch in for the betterment of Cherry Hill.

Furthermore, we have aggressively looked for new savings and innovative ways to raise revenue, including the implementation of RecycleBank, securing funding for renewable energy sources and installing an in-house employee self-prescription program.

Additionally, I have made monumental advances in municipal employees carrying some of the heavy burden of healthcare like our residents working in the private sector. This includes higher co-pays and premium sharing. Like I have stated in the past, while we wait for DCA to decide if we will be a recipient of extraordinary aid, any funding Cherry Hill receives from Trenton will go directly toward tax relief for our community.

Now, moving forward, all first quarter tax bills, already in mail boxes, will be due on Feb. 1 with a grace period until Feb. 17. Questions related to the estimated tax bill can be directed to the tax collector at (856) 488-7880.

For more than a year I have been having a very public discussion about what my administration has been doing in light of a perfect storm caused by a severe global recession – which has seriously cut into the Township’s revenue – a significant drop in state aid, and rising state-mandated costs. These discussions and your pragmatic suggestions have been used to combat expenses and streamline the way government works. In fact, I had a battery of public meetings last year where I asked for ideas about cost cutting measures in these extraordinary times and I would like to continue to extend that hand, by continuing the conversation. Please contact me by calling (856) 488-7878 or email me at MayorPlatt@CHTownship.com.

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Mayor Takes Pay Cut

Mayor & Council take 10-percent pay cut

Mayor Bernie Platt has given back 10 percent of his Township salary to personally create cost savings for Town Hall. The Mayor’s reduction was followed by a 10 percent salary reduction by Town Council leadership, the majority of Council members and Maris Kukainis, Township business administrator.

The Township has implemented several cost cutting measures to combat a significant drop in construction revenue, state aid and rising costs due to state mandated payments to the pension system and the public library.

"This is another form of universal belt tightening by my administration to combat the ongoing national recession," Platt said. "At this point as an elected official I feel a moral obligation to share the pain with employees and residents by giving back salary in order to do my part in these extraordinary times. In my estimate it would be unconscionable to ask for wage freezes without actively participating."

The total savings from the salary giveback by elected officials and the municipal manager will be more than $26,000. Additionally, Town Council members have not had a salary increase in more than 20 years and the mayor’s salary has not increased since Platt took office.

Steven Polansky, council president, said the salary giveback is another example of the administration sharing the pain with employees and the community.

"Right now we are looking at every option to cut costs," Polansky said. "The Mayor and Council must lead the way in these difficult economic times. During these unprecedented times of economic turmoil I am open to all options to preserve the core services upon our residents depend, and which they value. There is no question that people are suffering. Universal pain needs to be felt by everyone from the top down."

To offset the debilitating effects of the current recession, the Township has already made painful layoffs, consolidated departments, implemented premium sharing for medical benefits throughout union ranks, froze wages for 130 nonunion employees and cut more than $700,000 from its 2008-09 fiscal year budget.

Platt said the Township would continue to plan for the future during this recession-based economy, and that these particular givebacks are a "sign of the times." He also said that his administration would go back to the six unions operating in the Township to seriously discuss wage freezes and other concessions to create economic sustainability for future budgets until economic conditions improve.

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