HomeE/M SentinelE/M Sentinel NewsGrant funds to help replace Kahn's Bridge Crossing in Metuchen included in...

Grant funds to help replace Kahn’s Bridge Crossing in Metuchen included in 2022 municipal budget

METUCHEN – The replacement of the Kahn’s Bridge Crossing, which connects Graham Avenue across the Middlesex Greenway trail gap, is on the horizon.

Included in the calendar year 2022 Metuchen municipal budget, which was introduced at a meeting on May 9, are grant funds to replace the bridge crossing, which has been closed since early 2018 for safety reasons.

“A routine [engineering] inspection uncovered [the problems],” Mayor Jonathan Busch said, noting the report stated a pencil could stick through certain points of the crossing.

Another issue with the bridge was the way it was painted.

“It was not coated in a way that was sustainable [to weather],” Borough Administrator Melissa Perilstein said.

Residents in the area had raised funds to build the bridge, which was named after Donald Kahn, a member of the Environmental Commission. Kahn, a conservationist and environmentalist in the community, passed away in 2006 at age 75.

“[Kahn] died around the time the bridge was built,” Busch said. “Then 15 years into its construction, the bridge was suddenly seriously damaged enough that it had to be shut down.”

The bridge connection was a crossing for residents in the area to get to the train station or to walk their children to school, he said.

Busch said since the bridge closed, they have requested grant funds for the repairs of the bridge, which was finally granted in 2021.

The borough will utilize the $302,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation and $123,000 from the capital budget to fund the repairs of the bridge.

And because the bridge is made of steel, it is expected to be built off site and be “dropped in” when it is completed, Perilstein said.

2022 municipal budget

Township Council members have introduced a $22.7 million budget. The budget increases municipal taxes by $74.96 on an average home in Metuchen assessed at $200,000.

From 2021 to 2022, the total budget is up approximately $733,930, and the total amount to be collected from taxpayers is up approximately $504,180.86.

A higher assessed value of an individual’s home and/or property will yield a higher municipal property tax payment.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes taxes from the Metuchen schools, Middlesex County, and library.

School taxes are estimated to increase by $181.69, county taxes are estimated to increase by $41.54, and library taxes are estimated to increase by $13.80.

For the average homeowner, the estimated total increase is $311.99, which brings the total property tax bill to $12,761.99.

The amount of taxes an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Metuchen officials will collect $16.02 million in taxes from Metuchen’s residential and commercial property tax owners in 2022 to help fund the municipal budget.

Metuchen will receive a flat state aid of $1.45 million. Officials will use $1.1 million from surplus funds (savings) as revenue in the budget in 2022; a $250,000 contribution from the Metuchen Parking Authority; $572,087 from local revenue – fees, permits and licenses; $550,000 from the collection of delinquent taxes; $323,640 from grants and other sources; $910,486 through library property taxes; and $761,097 through the American Recovery Act for replacement of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perilstein said they are grateful for the funds from the American Recovery Act; however, the borough does not expect the funds to recur next year, which may create challenges.

The municipal tax rate has decreased over the years from 4.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 2.6 cents, which Councilman Dan Hirsch said has been going down for at least eight years.

The largest percentage of the municipal budget is 24% for public safety (police), including salaries and wages, 20% for sewage treatments, health care costs, 19% for pension, FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) and insurance, and 15% for public works.

The proposed budget includes $1.15 million for million and paving of Woodbridge and Lowell avenues, Rose Street, Douglas, Dolores and Michael drives; and Lynn and Robert circles.

The funds for milling and paving include $659,000 in grants with $492,900 in borough contributions and a reimbursement of $203,500 from the Parking Authority for the milling and paving of Halsey Street Lot.

The proposed budget also includes $761,000 for the Department of Public Works for the purchase of an automated garbage truck, a pickup truck, a sewer utility truck and a tree truck; $175,000 for the police department for the purchase of rifle suppressors, Alcotest, two police vehicles and live scan fingerprint equipment; $100,000 for the fire department for the purchase of replacing SCBA air packs; and $140,000 for the digitization of planning and zoning records.

Perilstein said the borough explored electric garbage trucks and will continue to explore.

“To my knowledge, up to this point, nothing is actually a fleet that is out doing [the garbage pickup],” she said, adding with only four automated trucks for the borough, they did not want to become a “guinea pig” with their fleet.

A public hearing on the 2022 municipal budget will be held at a meeting on June 13.

For more information, visit www.metuchennj.org.

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