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COUNCIL TIES UP BAGS, HOSPITAL DEAL

RiverviewrubbleThe site of the former Worden-Hoidal Funeral Home on East Front Street, owned by Riverview Medical Center, is not covered by the deal.

After a year trying to knit together a consensus, Councilman Mike DuPont finally got a watered-down version of his plastic bag ordinance passed by the Red Bank governing body Monday night.

Also in the ‘done’ box following the council’s final session of 2008: an agreement under which Riverview Medical Center will up its annual payment in lieu of taxes to the borough.

• Instead of the ban on bags that DuPont called for over most of the past year, the version that won unanimous approval requires any retail business that gives out bags to collect returned bags for recycling, with pickup provided by the borough. Violations carry fines of up to $500. Here’s the language: Download 2008-27.pdf

Even Republican Grace Cangemi voted for it. She had effectively derailed the original version by pointing out internal inconsistencies in the text and by arguing that it would result in more plastic bags winding up in the waste stream at a time when recycling of thin-film plastics is on the rise.

“We’ve come to an agreement, praise Jesus,” she said, looking DuPont’s way.

“Now you two can send Christmas cards to each other,” said Councilman Art Murphy.

No members of the public spoke on the measure.

• Mayor Pasquale Menna unveiled a new agreement under which Riverview agreed to boost its annual payment in lieu of taxes to $150,000 from the present $109,000, and to adjust the contribution annually by the percentage increase in the municipal tax rate or three percent, whichever is less.

As a non-profit entity, Riverview has no legal obligation to pay property taxes. But in the agreement, the hospital, which is the borough’s largest employer, pegs its contribution to the present value of its property holdings, and agrees that its contribution may go up if it adds any properties to its holdings, or may decrease if it disposes of property.

The base rate does not include the site of the former Worden-Hoidal Funeral Home on East Front Street, which the hospital acquired last summer for $2.3 million. Riverview officials say they have no immediate plans to develop the site, which is across the street from the medical center.

The deal reflects the “delicate relationship” between the borough and the center, said Menna.

“This agreement represents a balanced approach. It behooves us to keep that center and to keep it competitive” in an era in which other hospitals are shrinking their operations or closing their doors, he said.

“We have a lot of nonprofits here in Red Bank,” said Cangemi. “Riverview is and continues to be a great neighbor.”

Here’s the paperwork: Download RBRiverviewPILOT2009.pdf

Also last night:

• Steve Fitzpatrick of Hudson Avenue asked that borough Attorney Ken Pringle recuse himself from any role in the borough’s efforts to investigate, and possibly litigate, claims regarding the former municipal building at 51 Monmouth Street, now owned by the Community YMCA‘s Children’s Cultural Center and on the market for $2.55 million.

Fitzpatrick noted that the lobbying arm of Pringle’s law firm, Pringle, Quinn & Anzana, represents Riverview Medical Center in Trenton, and that both Riverview president Tim Hogan and John Lloyd, chairman of Riverview parent Meridian Health Systems, are members of the YMCA board.

“New counsel should be appointed to review the matter,” he said.

Pringle said he was not previously aware that Hogan and Lloyd were involved in the Y and that his firm has never represented the Y.

Menna told Fitzpatrick he would take his request “under advisement. I do not take it lightly.”

• The council held an executive session to discuss resolutions that would settle tax appeals on three properties after Councilman Jim Giannell questioned the rational for them.

• Administrator Stanley Sickels was honored for a decade of involvement in Pop Warner football.

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