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Latest News in Chatham Borough, NJ

Spiking Healthcare Premiums Addressed By Chatham Mayors

Mayors Thad Kobylarz and Ashley Felice recently spoke out about the impact rising health-care premiums are having on residents.CHATHAM, NJ — Mayors Thad Kobylarz and Ashley Felice, spoke at a press conference yesterday to address how residents of Chatham Township and Chatham Borough will be impacted by upcoming increases in health insurance premiums.The event, held on the front steps of the Morris Township Municipal Building, served as an informational discussion as well as a call to action and a plea for change to the ...

Mayors Thad Kobylarz and Ashley Felice recently spoke out about the impact rising health-care premiums are having on residents.

CHATHAM, NJ — Mayors Thad Kobylarz and Ashley Felice, spoke at a press conference yesterday to address how residents of Chatham Township and Chatham Borough will be impacted by upcoming increases in health insurance premiums.

The event, held on the front steps of the Morris Township Municipal Building, served as an informational discussion as well as a call to action and a plea for change to the elected officials in Trenton.

The state surprised all New Jersey municipalities, including the Chathams, with a 20% increase in healthcare insurance rates earlier this fall, prompting local governments to pass resolutions opposing the increase in an effort to fight back.

The conference was attended by all mayors and elected officials from Southeast Morris towns, including Madison, Morris Township, Morristown and Morris Plains.

"The substantial premium increases of over 20% proposed for State Health Benefits Program participants is yet another burden taxpayers and public employees will be left to carry and will leave many towns grappling with the potential for layoffs, the cancelation of important public projects, and/or tax increases," said Mayor Mark Gyorfy, Morris Township Mayor.

Hundreds of thousands of New Jersey public employees, early retirees, and school employees could face rate increases of up to 20% for health benefits under the new healthcare proposals.

Locally, Chatham residents may experience budget constraints and higher property taxes as a result of the significant increases in health insurance premiums.

According to officials, municipalities across the county have faced daunting challenges in recent years to keep public finances in order, ranging from the unanticipated and complex effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to subsequent cost increases for basic services due to inflation.

"Chatham Township's healthcare costs account for 10% of our operating budget. The planned increases for 2023 will be a large burden on both Chatham Township's tax paying base as well as our municipal employees," Felice said.

Felice estimates that premium contributions for the 49 municipal employees and 62 retirees in Chatham Township will rise by 19.7% in the upcoming year.

"I feel for our employees, who are impacted the most. Increases of this size are not something people typically anticipate or plan for," Felice said. "When you couple this with the already out of control inflationary environment impacting them at the grocery store, gas station, etc. it has a snowball effect which forces them to make hard decisions on what they can and can't afford."

Chatham Borough has recently taken proactive steps to reduce costs, according to Mayor Kobylarz, including a program that offers a cash incentive to employees who switch to lower-cost health plans.

The new plan, which was presented at a recent council meeting, will cost the borough $150,000 more. To help offset the additional funds that would be added to the borough budget, the council unanimously approved a resolution that would provide employees with a 40% cash incentive for choosing lower-cost plans for two years.

"This State Health Benefits Program 20 plus percent rate hike is definitely going to hurt us in Chatham Borough. There is little doubt that, like the municipalities all across the state, the increase will trigger property tax increases for our residents," Kobylarz said.

Senator Anthony M. Bucco stated following the press conference that the mayors of Morris County were correct to be concerned about the impending impact of massive health insurance premium increases.

“It’s clear, however, that Governor Murphy knew this was coming as early as February, months before the increases were announced. Had the governor shared that knowledge with the rest of us this spring, we could have worked on a solution with mayors, local governments, and the administration as part of the State Budget adopted in June. Unfortunately, that never happened because the administration wasn’t transparent about what it knew.”

During the conference, Kobylarz explained that the taxpayers within each municipality will end up bearing the brunt of the premium hike, saying that "the money has to come from somewhere."

The anticipated cost of healthcare in Chatham Borough for the upcoming fiscal year is $145,000, which equates to a budget appropriations increase of 12% to 15%.

"The bottom line here, is that the cost impact of the State Health Benefits Program dramatically steep and burdensome 20 plus percent rate hike has all the hallmarks of an unfunded mandate on local governments. One that will be borne on local taxpayers at a time when the rate of inflation has reached levels not seem in decades," Kobylarz said.

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8-Year-Old Chatham Boy Starts Local Christmas Tree Farm

CHATHAM, NJ — Whether you choose to get into the holiday spirit before or after Thanksgiving, it's safe to say that now is the time when most people start pulling out those Christmas decorations.Obtaining a locally grown tree in Chatham Borough has become more difficult since the closure of Dixiedale Farm, but one local second grader has devised a plan to change that this holiday season.Max Brown, an eight-year-old boy from Chatham Borough, wrote to the mayor last year after learning that Dixiedale Farm in Chatham had clo...

CHATHAM, NJ — Whether you choose to get into the holiday spirit before or after Thanksgiving, it's safe to say that now is the time when most people start pulling out those Christmas decorations.

Obtaining a locally grown tree in Chatham Borough has become more difficult since the closure of Dixiedale Farm, but one local second grader has devised a plan to change that this holiday season.

Max Brown, an eight-year-old boy from Chatham Borough, wrote to the mayor last year after learning that Dixiedale Farm in Chatham had closed and asked to start his own Christmas tree farm from his home.

"I am sad because they took the farm away," he wrote in the letter addressed to Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz.

In response, Mayor Kobylarz stated that he admired his spirit and invited the Brown family to the Chatham Borough Office to receive a proclamation authorizing them to start their own Christmas tree farm for the 2022 season.

"I want you to know that I share your sadness over the closing of our beloved Christmas Tree Farm at the old Dixiedale site on Hillside Avenue. This is such a terrible loss to our community. There are so many disappointed people in Chatham right now," Mayor Kobylarz said.

Brown was originally inspired to make their own tree farm after noticing that their front yard had enough space for Christmas trees, his father, Christopher Brown, told Patch.

"He asked me if he could start a tree farm, and I said it was up to the town, but assumed they would say no. They said yes, which made him so happy. From there he built a business plan, got help from his school and was off and running with his idea for a more sustainable Christmas tree farm," Christopher Brown said.

The business, dubbed "Fairmount Farm," took off this year, with more than 70 trees ordered and nearly half sold before the season began, thanks to farmers' market activities and Max's school informing all of the parents.

Each tree will be delivered with lights and ornaments, then picked up and replanted/recycled for the following years, according to Christopher Brown.

Tree selection will run until Dec. 24, with deliveries beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 29. The sustainable farm is located at 228 Fairmount Avenue, and residents can reserve a tree by clicking here.

"Max is a goofy, super curious kid who is always asking great questions but coming up with fantastic solutions for everyday problems, I think he is an inventor and he enjoys working with his hands, and exploring," Christopher Brown said.

Judge will make Affordable Housing Compliance Ruling for Chatham Borough after Hearing Oral Argument to Reconsider by SV

Chatham High 17-year-old Miranda Salinger reported on her Girl Scout Gold Award project to collect pajamas for homeless childrenChatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz gave a Post Office Plaza litigation update at Monday's regular meeting of the Borough CouncilScott Fischer of cielpower.com announced that home energy audits will be available to Chatham Borough residents for $49 over the next six monthsChatham High 17-year-old Miranda Salinger reported on her Girl...

Chatham High 17-year-old Miranda Salinger reported on her Girl Scout Gold Award project to collect pajamas for homeless children

Chatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz gave a Post Office Plaza litigation update at Monday's regular meeting of the Borough Council

Scott Fischer of cielpower.com announced that home energy audits will be available to Chatham Borough residents for $49 over the next six months

Chatham High 17-year-old Miranda Salinger reported on her Girl Scout Gold Award project to collect pajamas for homeless children

Chatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz gave a Post Office Plaza litigation update at Monday's regular meeting of the Borough Council

CHATHAM, NJ -- Chatham Borough Mayor Thaddeus Kobylarz reported on Monday night that the borough is close to meeting its third round of affordable housing obligation and will hear the final ruling on compliance by Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury on Nov. 28 at the Morris County Courthouse.

The plan on the table is for Chatham to build an all-affordable, 15-unit building in the parking lot of Post Office Plaza near Bowers Lane, which would be built by Bergen County United Way.

In order to gain compliance, the Borough Council passed a resolution at the regular meeting on Monday night to bond in excess of $6 million, if needed, to cover any extra costs to complete the BCUW project at Post Office Plaza. See the mayor's remarks below.

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In August, Judge Hansbury ruled in favor of Chatham Borough in its decision to build 15 stand-alone affordable housing units and rejected the motion for intervention by SV, associated with Kushner Real Estate, at the August hearing.

Hansbury denied SV's motion because he did not believe they met the legal standard for intervention and denied the claim for the litigant's rights. He also denied the Fair Share Housing Center's cross-motion but said in August: "I'm not going to order FSHC to accept" Chatham Borough's plan, but ordered the parties to "negotiate in good faith."

At the Nov. 14 hearing, the Fair Share Housing Center dropped its objection to the 15-unit plan, but the judge said he would hear oral arguments from SV for reconsideration before making his compliance ruling at the Nov. 28 court date.

Home Energy Audits

Scott Fischer of cielpower.com came before the council to announce a home energy audit program backed by JCP&L and PSE&G that will be available to Chatham Borough residents over the next six months. The home energy assessment of Chatham homes will be offered for $49. Homeowners will be offered cash incentive programs to upgrade energy efficiency after the assessment. There is no obligation to purchase anything.

Girl Scout Gold Award Project

Miranda Salinger, 17-year-old Chatham High Girl Scout, reported on her Gold Award project, "Everything is better in pajamas", collecting pajamas for homeless children (see video below).

Discounted Home Energy Assessment Coming To Chatham Residents

A representative from Cielpower.com addressed the Chatham Borough Council about the Chatham Home Energy Insight Program.CHATHAM, NJ — A home energy audit program supported by both JCP&L and PSE&G may be offering an incentive program to all Chatham homeowners in the name of being more energy efficient.Scott Fischer of cielpower.com recently appeared before the council to announce the launch of the Chatham Home Energy Insight Program, which provides discounted home energy assessments.Over the next six month...

A representative from Cielpower.com addressed the Chatham Borough Council about the Chatham Home Energy Insight Program.

CHATHAM, NJ — A home energy audit program supported by both JCP&L and PSE&G may be offering an incentive program to all Chatham homeowners in the name of being more energy efficient.

Scott Fischer of cielpower.com recently appeared before the council to announce the launch of the Chatham Home Energy Insight Program, which provides discounted home energy assessments.

Over the next six months, the energy assessment of all Chatham homes will be offered for $49 under the program. The audit's goal is to highlight potential efficient changes and upgrades within the home.

Many people, according to Fischer, are unaware of the robust incentive programs that both JCP&L and PSE&G offer to their customers for making energy efficiency improvements in their homes.

The incentive programs provide both cash back and on-bill repayment for improvements such as insulation upgrades, heating system upgrades, and air conditioning system upgrades.

According to Fischer, these changes can also lower the home's operating costs.

"The goal of the Chatham Home Energy Insight Program is to broaden awareness that these programs that are out there are available to homeowners to make these types of improvements," Fischer said.

The energy audit is considered a "deep dive" into a home, Fischer said. The technicians are tasked with conducting multiple diagnostic tests that are designed to pinpoint how each home is losing or wasting energy.

Following the three-hour visit, the technicians will compile a report outlining all of the systems in their homes and which are "the worst offenders," as well as recommendations for how a homeowner can improve their efficiency.

Cielpower.com currently has similar programs in neighboring communities such as Madison and Summit.

"My hope is that we can come here and audit all of the homes in Chatham and that we can open up these incentives or make them available to many households here in Chatham that could benefit from them," Fischer said.

The assessment program will also offer several low income options in order to accommodate for all Chatham residents.

According to Fischer, the audit program was created in response to a public request for proposal, which is a process in which the borough accepts bids from competing companies and selects one of them.

The program's website is still being developed, but once completed, it will be linked to the borough's main webpage, according to Mayor Thaddeus J. Kobylarz.

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Hedges Avenue Residents Ask Borough of Chatham Council to Consider Installing a Crosswalk to the Cut-Through Path

CHATHAM, NJ -- Chatham mother Alex Friel came before the Borough of Chatham Council on Monday night to ask that a crosswalk be installed on Hedges Avenue, so that children can more safely walk to the cut-through path to Roosevelt Avenue."This is a subject near and dear to our street," Friel said during public commentary. " There are 20 children under the age of six who traverse our street. A crosswalk would serve as a visual reminder to motorists that this is a residential street with many in the commun...

CHATHAM, NJ -- Chatham mother Alex Friel came before the Borough of Chatham Council on Monday night to ask that a crosswalk be installed on Hedges Avenue, so that children can more safely walk to the cut-through path to Roosevelt Avenue.

"This is a subject near and dear to our street," Friel said during public commentary. " There are 20 children under the age of six who traverse our street. A crosswalk would serve as a visual reminder to motorists that this is a residential street with many in the community walking across at that intersection. The walk would also help aesthetically make our street more in line with the other blocks within the borough. We would like a “STOP for Pedestrians it’s the LAW” sign in the middle of the walk."

A petition signed by about 200 residents, making the case for a crosswalk, can be read below:

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Safe Crosswalk on Hedges Avenue Chatham NJ

The Moms, Dads, Neighbors & Friends of Hedges Avenue would like to implore the Chatham Borough Council to approve the institution of a cross-walk on Hedges Avenue at the walking cut through intersection to Roosevelt Avenue.

Our lovely residential street has supported the community of Chatham in many ways including utilizing the local public schools such as Milton Avenue. Many of the 20 Hedges Avenue children (most of whom are under the age of 7) walk, bike and play up and down the Hedges Avenue block. Our street is on the walking path to MAS and a popular street for Middle Schoolers who walk down Main Street, hit Dunkin Donuts and then take Hedges Ave home. The sidewalk ends at this intersection on Hedges and all foot traffic crosses the street to continue walking along the sidewalk. Our street is 1/3 Mile long so a crosswalk is important to ensure safe legal crossing.

A crosswalk would serve as a visual reminder to motorists that this is a residential street with many in the community walking across at that intersection. The walk would also help aesthetically make our street more in line with the other blocks within the borough. We would like a “STOP for Pedestrians it’s the LAW” sign in the middle of the walk. This is not unlike the crosswalks on Shunpike and Hillside avenue. We hope the community will support and protect not only the adults and children of Hedges Avenue but the broader community that walk our street. Thank you.

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