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: ZOOMING IN ON PARKING & MORE

red bank white street lot 040820The White Street parking lot was desolate April 8. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[See CORRECTION below]

By JOHN T. WARD

Along with their Netflix and Hulu viewing options during the COVID-19 lockdown, civic-minded Red Bankers will have some Zoom options in coming days.

Among them: a presentation on the redesign of the White Street parking lot.

OK, so it’s not quite ‘Tiger King,’ but hey.

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RED BANK: MAPLE COVE ADDITION POSSIBLE

red bank 96-98 west front 041420The property at 96-98 West Front Street is approved for offices and apartments. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank may get a small addition to its riverfront Maple Cove tract under negotiations authorized by council in executive session Wednesday night.

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RED BANK: WHITE STREET ON COUNCIL AGENDA

red bank council 040720 1Officials and council members recite the pledge of allegiance during the borough government’s first-ever digital-only meeting April 7. (YouTube screen grab. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

At its second official meeting of the COVID-19 era Wednesday night, the Red Bank council plans to consider awarding a contract to rebuild much of White Street and the adjoining municipal parking lot.

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ON THE GREEN: RED BANK JOINS MOVE ONLINE

Fair Haven remote council meeting 032320Fair Haven’s March 23 council meeting, conducted via Zoom from the office of Forefront Incorporated, drew 68 attendees. (YouTube screen grab. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Thanks to a videocamera placed on a conference room table, Fair Haven residents got a close-up view of Mayor Ben Lucarelli’s beard when the town’s governing body held its first-ever online-only public session two weeks ago.

Now, thanks to the limits on public gatherings in the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Bank is also about to enter the fuzzy world of public sessions at which no members of the public are present.

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ON THE GREEN: MEETINGS MOVE ONLINE

Fair Haven Board of Ed members sat well-spaced at a meeting carried live on YouTube last week. (YouTube screen grab. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Fair Haven’s board of ed held its first-ever virtual meeting last Wednesday.

With five members seated well apart from one another in the Knollwood School gym to minimize the possible transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the board had a quorum. Four other members participated via the Zoom conferencing app. And the public, barred from appearing in person, chimed in via the chat function on YouTube, where the meeting was live-streamed.

Among the most frequent comments: “we can’t hear you.”

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