Voters overwhelmingly approve 3 boro initiatives

GOP council members returned to panel in uncontested race

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

SHREWSBURY — Three local ballot questions won the approval of the voters in the Nov. 4 election.

By a lopsided vote of 989 to 231, the voters passed a question to establish a Length Of Service Awards Program for volunteer firefighters and first aid squad members.

By narrower but still comfortable margins, the voters approved the merger of two environmental and historic preservation funds and the removal of a five-year sunset provision on those funds.

In addition, Terel Cooperhouse and Donald W. Burden were elected to the Borough Council. Both are Republicans and ran without opposition for the two seats at stake.

Cooperhouse, the council president, won his second three-year term, with 678 votes, exclusive of absentee ballots.

Burden, who was appointed to the council earlier this year to fill a vacancy, won a full three-year term with 708 votes.

The intent of the Length of Service Award Program, as stated by the council in the ordinance placing it on the ballot, is to ensure the retention of existing members of the fire department and first aid squad and to provide incentives for recruiting new volunteers.

The program will provide an annual contribution by the borough for each year of future service for each eligible volunteer of $1,150, the maximum allowed by the law. The annual cost of the of the program to the borough, based on 40 members, will be $46,000.

To qualify for the award, essentially a pension, a volunteer has to accumulate 50 points for service performed during the year. An attachment to the ordinance spells out how many points are awarded for each activity, including participation in fire call or first aid responses, training courses, drills, elected positions, attendance at meetings and miscellaneous other activities.

A ballot question asking to merge two open space funds into one was passed 2-to-1 by a vote of 652 to 314. It merges a fund to support renovation of the historic Wardell House, which formerly served as borough hall, with an open space fund into one Open Space, Recreation, Conservation and Historic Preservation Fund. The new combined fund will be supported by a penny per $100 of assessed value tax, the same as the total of the two taxes it replaces.

The Wardell House fund is being eliminated because the Monmouth County Library is taking over the building along with the cost of its upkeep. The fund has to be merged with the open space fund so that the borough can access the money in the Wardell fund for other purposes. Mayor Emilia M. Siciliano said that there is about $26,000 sitting in the Wardell House fund.

By a slightly less than 2-to-1 margin, the voters approved, 628 to 324, the removal of the five-year limitation placed on the life of both funds when they were created.

In urging that this "sunset" provision be removed, Siciliano noted that if the borough doesn’t have an open space tax in place, it will not be eligible for Green Acres funding from the state.