Statement from the May 11, 2020 Borough Council meeting.
Members of the Borough Council, neighbors and friends:
I hope that this finds you and your loved ones well and that all enjoyed Mother's Day this weekend.
As we continue to navigate these difficult times we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. In New York, Governor Cuomo announced a gradual lifting of the stay-in-place order commencing May 15, 2020 with Phase One openings of some commercial venues. Here in New Jersey, we will hopefully follow suit.
I am happy to say that in Far Hills, there have been no new Covid-19 cases reported since my last update.
In communication with Mr. Tony Cava, President of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, care was provided to 937 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and over 500 patients have already been discharged. Emergency room services and other urgent services remain available at Robert Wood Johnson and Morristown Memorial Hospital and those with critical illnesses should not hesitate to seek medical care.
The testing site at Raritan Valley Community College has been up and running. An appointment is necessary and can be arranged by calling 908.237.7150. Additionally, a prescription from your physician is also required prior to going to the testing site.
The Memorial Day Parade will not take place this year; however, in accordance with the Executive Order limiting gatherings to ten or less, a small wreath laying ceremony, speeches from the respective Mayors and similar tribute may occur. I am working with our Borough Council and representatives from the Far Hills Bedminster Fire Department and will provide additional details to ensure we remember our fallen heros.
I would like to address Executive Order 130, which Governor Murphy signed last week and a recent article in the Bernardsville News regarding an extension of the current tax payment due date from May 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020. However, there was no similar extension afforded to the municipalities who had to comply with their financial obligations to the county, schools, libraries and state under the existing deadlines. While some municipalities extended the due date, after discussion with our CFO, Ms. Stern and Finance Committee, it was determined that the Borough would not be doing so. While it was politically a good-will gesture, it was short sighted and unduly burdened the municipality and achieved little to nothing for the residents. In fact, it even subjected taxpayers to an 8% rate of interest for tax payments, not received by the due date, retroactively to May 1, 2020.
A request for a Farmer’s Market to take place at the Fairgrounds was considered but ultimately denied due to the limitation on gatherings and a potential risk to our residents.
As you may know, Governor Murphy has extended the stay-in-place order until June 6, 2020 and through discussions with his office, this may be further extended. This continues to place a burden on our small businesses.
Due to the stay-in-place order, the next Council meeting in May and the first meeting in June will be conducted in a virtual format. As State guidelines continue to be presented, the Borough may revise the meeting format.
The municipal building will continue to be closed to the public for the safety of our residents and employees. I have had conversation with our Borough Clerk, Dorothy Hicks and have authorized the procurement of additional personal protective equipment for the safety of our employees.
Finally, with regard to future events in the Borough, specifically the Essex Horse Trials, which is currently scheduled for July 18, and 19, 2020, it is highly unlikely that this event would take place if the stay-in-place order is extended beyond June.
I will continue to keep you informed as we receive updates from the Governor’s office.
Paul J. Vallone, MD