BEESLEY’S POINT – Mayor Jay Newman told the Upper Township Business Association he thinks the township is in “great shape.”
Newman told the association’s members that their community is safe and clean, the taxes are stable, and the schools are great.
He said there will be a 2024 budget workshop on Monday, Feb. 12, and the goal is to keep increases to a minimum.
“I don’t think there will be an increase,” he said.
Newman said people need to understand that the tax bill is a compilation of the local-purpose tax plus the school taxes – which he said is a large part of the bill – the fire district tax and county taxes. He said the township sends more money to the county than it spends on township businesses.
Speaking at the Tuckahoe Inn at Beesley’s Point, Newman told the association he grew up in and has a passion for Upper Township, including the development of the former B.L. England power plant, which he said has been the site of a number of events related to the demolition of the plant.
He said the Beesley’s Point Development Group, which will ultimately develop the 300-plus-acre site, continues to work with the township on plans for the property.
“There are lots of concepts but no plans yet,” the mayor said. “I can’t tell what they are going to do, yet.”
He said the township would work with the group to come up with the best possible development.
Newman also briefly touched on affordable housing, saying the township is working with the Fair Share Housing Center to ensure that the township develops such housing.
“This is not low-income or Section 8,” he said. “If you put in five houses, one has to be affordable.”
Newman said this plan, the need for which is based on the Mount Laurel doctrine, has been worked out with the Fair Share Housing Center along with township professionals, planners and attorney. He said the township always has the intention of allowing development with the least impact on residents.
He said the township has a big paving project – about $1 million – which is the culmination of a three- to four-year plan. At the same time, the county and state have projects within the township. The state is repaving part of Route 9, there are fiber optic lines being installed, and ADA ramps are being installed at intersections. Church Road is getting new drainage and curbs, he said, and a portion of Tuckahoe Road to Route 9 is being widened. Some bridges in the township will be worked on next year.
“These are all projects we are not involved with,” he said.
Locally, the township is looking at purchasing some new trash trucks and a new fire engine. The mayor said these are things the township has to plan for. “If you sign the order tonight it will be five years before you get it,” he said.
Newman praised the Upper Township Department of Public Works, saying, “Public Works continues to shine.” He referred to the township’s only measurable snowfall, which dropped about 4 to 5 inches of snow, saying the DPW soon had the roads plowed curb to curb and salted.
He said the township has replaced lights at the football field at Caldwell Park and installed a new floor at the community center.
The mayor said Upper Township is fortunate to have the best fire companies in the county and emergency medical services that are fully staffed and well-equipped. All the firefighters in the township are volunteers.
“They don’t get a cent – not a dime – and they do a great job,” he said. “And they work well with the state police.”
Newman also referred to the recent, major beach fill project by the state Department of Environmental Protection, saying that this summer the beaches at Strathmere will be “wide, sandy and free.”
The mayor said he was born in Somers Point and raised in Beesley’s Point. He graduated from Ocean City High School. His wife, Fran, has been an Upper Township representative to the Ocean City School Board for many years. His son John is a major in the Air Force, and his other son, Mark, is a second-grade teacher in Upper Township.
“We are a family of service,” he said.
Newman said his political career began in 2001 when he was asked to run for office. He was seated in January 2002 and has been reelected three times.
Contact the author, Christopher South, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.