Borough Council Meeting 3-13-23: The Budget is the Star

According to Borough CFO Jim Burnet, if residents haven’t been following the budgeting process, this is the key time to listen in to what is being proposed. A snapshot of the discussion is below, along with an update on the Drew Forest and list of upcoming events around town.

Watch the meeting hereView PresentationsSee past meeting recaps
View Agendas hereView Ordinances hereView Resolutions here

Mayor’s Update

  • Welcomed Drew University journalism class to the Council meeting
  • Update on the Drew Forest: Meeting 3/14 with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey to begin writing the grant application to the Morris County Open Space Fund. Looking for additional funding sources to save this valuable natural resource. Requested a direct meeting with the Drew Board of Trustees. Sale agreement would need to be approved by them and hope is to have it in place before the grant application is submitted on June 9th.
  • Recognized community commitment from the Madison PD as evidenced by the successful recent Coffee with a Cop event, which included current and retired police officers.
  • Read proclamations honoring Planning Board Chairman Steven R. Tombalakian and National Poison Prevention Week March 19-25, 2023

Committee Reports

  • Community Affairs:
  • Public Works, Engineering, and Finance
    • Residents were reassured that Borough deposits are protected, following the recent bank failure in the news.
    • Various positive updates were shared including that the Lucy D field bathroom renovations are underway and the Cook Ave. parking lot, pickle ball courts, MRC solar carport, and Dodge field playground renovation plans are continuing to make progress.
    • Yard waste collection has begun.
    • The Sustainable Madison Committee was recognized for going above and beyond to meet new deadlines.
  • Health
    • Madison and Westfield health staff are hosting a chronic disease self-management series at the Library of the Chathams. Runs from April 11th to May 16th 1:30 to 4 pm to cover many chronic diseases. Residents can sign up by calling 908-789-4070 X4080 or

Agenda Discussions

    • This was the next in a series of budget meetings that have been covered in prior recaps.
    • This is the most important presentation to pay attention to, according to CFO Jim Burnet.
    • Starting at minute 33:29, residents can see the presentation slides and commentary.
    • The budgeting process was covered and highlights of challenges including potential costs from acquiring the Drew Forest, tax challenges, etc.
    • A notable point included lack of compliance with funding for capital improvement with lower levels of funding than recommended. This was the result of belt-tightening to balance the budget. Projects are still happening, but it’s recommended to move into compliance in the future. Hope this will happen as new buildings are built.

Here are two key slides summarizing these details:

  • One challenge highlighted was the tax challenges from loss of value of large office properties, leading to tax challenges:
  • Discussed the transparency of the process, which is quite different from other towns who introduce the budget when it’s about to get voted on.
  • Ms. Ehrlich asked about the electric utility dividend. Mr. Burnet shared that we are seeing rising costs to purchase electricity (from rising fossil fuel costs), but it’s holding for now in terms of the level of the dividend. Ms. Ehrlich expressed enthusiasm for the coming solar carport project to reduce electricity costs.
  • The vote passed giving Jim Burnet the approval to prepare the budget for introduction.

Public Comments

  • A few residents asked for better transparency on getting onto Borough committees as a volunteer. The Mayor promised to look into this.
  • One resident expressed concern about climate action committee recommendations and potential expenses. Stated a series of inaccurate or outright false claims about renewable energy sources.
  • A Drew student spoke to urge the town to save the Drew Forest and to thank the Council for its efforts.


  • Two ordinances had their first reading and were all voted through.

Consent Resolutions

  • As seen in the agenda, a series of resolutions were voted on and all passed.