‘Layers and layers of paper’

Cranbury's Town Hall on 23 N Main St. during the afternoon on March 17.

Cranbury officials discuss construction fee increases and modernizing the department

Construction fee increases may soon be coming to Cranbury as the township plans to craft an ordinance revising fees that haven’t been adjusted since 2000.

In a work session meeting on June 26, the Township Committee received a request and briefing from Gary Junkroft, Cranbury’s new construction officer, about increases in construction fees and modernizing the department.

“The department fees have not been adjusted in over 20 years, so consequentially year after year the fund has slowly gone down over and over,” he said. “Within the next couple of years if we do not make any changes, it is going to run out. At that point we will become a burden on the taxpayers.”

The department’s funds are paid through a dedicated Construction Trust Fund. All permit fees collected are put into the fund that pays for all the equipment and supplies they use as well as salaries, and benefits.

“The goal going forward is to adjust those fees to come in line with the rest of the surrounding towns,” Junkroft said.

Part of the fees that need adjustments are for state mandates that are going to be implemented in technology.

The department needs to update its software and hardware.

“We are bogged down with layers upon layers of paper and things that need to be digitally archived, shipped off and properly handled,” Junkroft said. “The state is pushing us towards digital permitting and in the near future they will finally resolve those steps of what the final process is going to be and the mandates we are going to be held to.”

Junkroft said since the state has delayed the technology mandates a few times, they are not behind the ball much yet.

An ordinance will be crafted for a future Township Committee meeting.

Construction fees were last updated in 2020 with no hardship provision, Mayor Mike Ferrante said.

“Most of the fees are on a sliding scale,” he said, noting they are based off a renovation budget and the other four sections are based on devices or fixtures. “Based on the complexity of the project, the fees go up accordingly. A simple project still does have a relatively low fee structure.”

Cranbury’s Construction Trust Fund has remained afloat due to the warehouse development, however, “that work is slowing down,” Township Administrator Denise Marabello said.

“We are not going to have brand new warehouses, there is not space,” she said. “So, we need to increase the fees now to bring in some more revenue to keep us going for the next 10 years.”

Committeewoman Lisa Knierim said the future is going to be more residentially driven noting the borough gets less revenue in business and residential construction fees.

Marabello said there will come a point where they need to find a balance and expenses may need to be cut because of less demand. For example, the need for less inspectors.

“I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future, but five or eight years from now we see that those are the things that will have to be changed,” she said.