RED BANK: SURPLUS KEEPS TAX RATE LEVEL

A new trash contract and landfill fees increased waste removal costs by $318,000 this year, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank taxes

Facing large increases in debt financing and trash costs, Red Bank officials dodged a tax rate increase thanks in part to a surplus from 2020, they said Tuesday night.

At a 45-minute information session by the borough finance committee, held via Zoom, Councilman Hazim Yassin called the outcome “phenomenal.”

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RED BANK: NO LOCAL TAX INCREASE IN BUDGET

A screengrab from Wednesday’s virtual meeting, which was chaired by  Councilman Hazim Yassin, top right. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank taxes

Red Bank property owners will see no increase in the local tax rate under the budget introduced by the borough council Wednesday night.

The governing body also finalized a plan for a charter study referendum that several commenters referred to as “historic;” eliminated the job of animal control officer to make way for the Monmouth SPCA; and tabled the hiring of a new executive director of the Redevelopment Agency.

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RED BANK: ANIMAL CONTROL VOTE SCHEDULED

Henry Perez with opossums orphaned when their mother was hit by a car in 2016. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicHowls of protest are expected Wednesday night when the Red Bank council considers a proposal to scrap its in-house animal control service.

In addition to eliminating the position of animal control officer, held for the past 18 years by Henry Perez, the council would shift the work for the second half of 2021 to the Monmouth County SPCA, a change opponents say would delay responses.

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RED BANK: ANIMAL OPERATION ON THE BLOCK

Animal Control Officer Henry Perez with a bat removed from a Madison Avenue home in 2013. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicIn a move that has animal advocates alarmed, Red Bank is looking at jobbing out its animal control operation.

They say replacing the in-house service with the Monmouth County SPCA would reduce response times and service.

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RED BANK: WHAT’S ON COUNCIL AGENDA

Among the many events organizers hope to bring back in 2021: the Red Bank Classic 5k, slated for June 19. A list of event dates is up for approval by the council. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s borough council meets with a busy agenda of financing actions, hirings and more Wednesday.

There’s also something missing, though numerous commenters have demanded it: changes to the meeting protocol covering… public comment.

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RED BANK: TRASH PACT, LEAK REPORT OK’D

DeLisa Demolition won the bidding to haul the borough’s trash and recycling for another five years. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicMonths later than expected, Red Bank officials agreed this week to enter a new five-year contract for private trash hauling, one that will increase the frequency of recycling pickups.

They also agreed to hire an outside attorney to look into disputed emails about the bid specifications.

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LITTLE SILVER: PANDEMIC BONUSES ON DECK

little silver bob neffLittle Silver Mayor Bob Neff alone in the council chamber for the governing body’s first virtual meeting in April. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Little Silver plans to thank public employees for their extra efforts in the COVID-19 pandemic with $500 bonuses.

The payments, as well as new police salaries, are up for consideration by the borough council at its virtual meeting Monday night.

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RED BANK: TRASH SURVEY SPLITS COUNCIL

A screengrab of the council’s session Wednesday night. (Zoom screengrab. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicA trash-and-recycling survey became the latest wedge between two factions of Red Bank’s one-party council Wednesday night.

The dispute included innuendo that Councilman Ed Zipprich could not be trusted to keep information secret from bidders in the pending award of a trash hauling contract.

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RED BANK: DEAL OVER LEAK PROBES POSSIBLE

ballard zipprich 102217Michael Ballard, left, and Ed Zipprich with an unidentified woman at the 2017 Halloween parade. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicA stalemate over dueling demands for probes stemming from a Red Bank government email leak may be headed toward resolution.

At the urging of Mayor Pasquale Menna, council members informally agreed Wednesday night to seek a legal opinion regarding their options on how to proceed.

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RED BANK: SPLIT OVER LEAK PROBE CONTINUES

A screengrab of the council’s session Wednesday night, with councilmembers Erik Yngstrom at center left and Michael Ballard at center right. (Zoom screengrab. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicA dispute over leaked emails entered its third month when the Red Bank council met for a workshop session via Zoom Wednesday night.

The issue has pitted two Democrats who are running for re-election against four who aren’t.

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RED BANK: BIKING LANDSCAPER GETS ASSIST

Ricardo Paz with Liz Schuber and restaurateur Danny Murphy outside Danny’s Steakhouse Tuesday, and below, in Fair Haven in July. (redbankgreen photos. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A Red Bank landscaper who hauls his equipment around in a trailer attached to his bicycle needed a new set of wheels.

And thanks to a fund drive set up by a stranger, Ricardo Paz now has $3,600 to buy one. But because there’s been a run on bikes triggered by the pandemic, Paz hasn’t been able to find a bike sturdy enough to accommodate his trailer, which carries more than 300 pounds of gear.

So last month, Paz –yes – started pushing his gear to his clients’ homes.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL PROMOTES SIX COPS

Errico Vescio, right, who was promoted to captain, with former Captain Mike Clay in 2014. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Six Red Bank police officers are set to step up in rank next week, following promotions approved by the borough council last week.

By custom, the changes would have been an occasion for family and friends to pack the council chamber for swearing-in ceremonies. But with borough hall shut down to visitors, and the council meeting remotely via the Internet, that event could not be held, said Chief Darren McConnell.

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RED BANK: DEMS CLASH OVER BUDGET, PROBE

A screengrab of the council’s session Wednesday night. (Zoom screengrab. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topicRifts among Democrats were on almost nonstop display during a three-hour meeting of the Red Bank council Wednesday night.

While Councilman Ed Zipprich pressed for a probe into an email leak he said had smeared his reputation, at least two of his colleagues were more concerned about his intervention in the bidding for a new trash hauling contract.

But first, the all-Democratic body split over proposed budget cuts pushed by Councilman Michael Ballard that others saw as unwise.

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RED BANK: BUDGET Q&A SLATED AFTER ALL

red bank, nj, ed zipprich, michael ballard, ziad shehadyCouncilman Michael Ballard, center, with Councilman Ed Zipprich, left, and Business Administrator Ziad Shehady in December, 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Almost two months later than promised, Red Bank residents will get a detailed explanation next week of a borough budget that would increase property taxes by 2.8 percent.

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RED BANK: TAX INCREASE AT 2.8 PERCENT

A screengrab from Wednesday’s virtual meeting, with Councilman Michael Ballard at top center and Business Administrator Ziad Shehady at center right. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic

Red Bank property owners would pay 2.8 percent more in municipal taxes this year, under a budget advanced by the borough council Wednesday night.

The still-evolving $22.4 million spending plan was the centerpiece of a nearly three-hour online council meeting that left viewers with a lot to unpack.

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RED BANK: TAX INCREASE ON AGENDA

michael ballard 051320Councilman Michael Ballard during an online meeting in May. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank taxesDelayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Bank’s proposed budget for 2020 would boost the amount to be raised from local property owners by 5.4 percent.

But heading into the final stretch, it’s not clear that the chairman of the finance committee will support the spending plan if it goes to a vote Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: JOBS DEBATE SPLITS COUNCIL

red bank recycling center 051420 Robert Greene, left, and John Caine at the Red Bank recycling center Thursday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

redbankgreen hot topicA plan to eliminate two part-time jobs at the recycling center sharply divided Red Bank’s all-Democratic council Wednesday night.

Things got personal. During the governing body’s semimonthly meeting, conducted via Zoom, Councilman Ed Zipprich accused Business Administrator Ziad Shehady of retaliation for an earlier action by the union that represents the affected employees.

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RED BANK: SILENCE BY ALL ON HARASSMENT

ziad shehady, stephen hechtBusiness Administrator Ziad Shehady, left, chatting with borough resident Stephen Hecht last May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s elected officials closed the books Wednesday night on a harassment complaint filed against borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady.

But the public may never know the details of the case, or the recommendations that followed an investigation.

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