By Mark Rosman
ALLENTOWN – In a move officials expect will save money on the operation of borough-owned properties, Allentown has joined an energy aggregation program through the New Jersey Sustainable Energy Meeting.
Borough Council members Wil Borkowski, Johnna Stinemire, Angela Anthony and Madeline Gavin voted to take the action at the council’s Sept. 13 meeting. Council members Rob Schmitt and Rob Strovinsky were absent.
Mayor Greg Westfall said officials are specifically hoping to save money on Allentown’s water and waste water treatment bills through the joint purchase of electricity and natural gas. He said the council’s decision to join the energy aggregation program does not include residents or businesses.
Energy aggregation is a program through which municipalities, residents and business owners join together to negotiate more cost-effective rates for energy. In Allentown’s case, only the borough is participating.
In other business, the council passed a resolution authorizing the Roberts Engineering Group to prepare a New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Alternatives Program grant application.
According to the resolution, the DOT has recently made funding available through the 2016 Transportation Alternatives Program and the borough engineer has recommended that officials submit an application for the proposed streetscape improvements along Church Street from Main Street to the borough limits and North Main Street from Church Street to Broad Street since it will encompass a large portion of the borough’s northern business district and connect to improvements previously completed on South Main Street which received DOT funds.
Borkowski, Stinemire, Anthony and Gavin authorized the Roberts Engineering Group to prepare the grant application at a cost not to exceed $4,000 as long as the funding can be used past 2017.
Westfall announced that Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding the borough applied for in order to continue making streetscape improvements was not approved by Monmouth County.
Officials said the bulk of the CDBG funding that was available in this round went to three county municipalities that are still recovering from the effects of superstorm Sandy in 2012: Atlantic Highlands, Highlands and Bradley Beach.
And, the council passed a resolution recommending WIPP third party payment system for the online payment of sewer, tax and water bills. Officials said it was the desire of the Finance Committee to make it easier for residents and business owners to make those payments online through the borough’s website.
Westfall was authorized to sign a contract with WIPP in the amount not to exceed $1,200.
Officials said there will be a fee associated with making online payments. For example, a property owner who pays a $10,000 tax bill online will pay $300 for the convenience of making the payment through WIPP.
Paying the tax bill, or any other bill, at the municipal building or by mail will not incur any additional charges, according to municipal officials.