5 things to take away from Newark's budget hearings

By Naomi Nix | The Star-Ledger
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on August 04, 2014


Newark — City council members today questioned representatives from the engineering, water and sewer and neighborhood services departments on the proposed 2014 budget.

Here are five points from the discussions.

1. City lights have gone LED. Officials have been working for several years to switch bulbs at traffic intersections to LED lights. The reds, greens and walk signals have all been changed, said Jack Nata, manager of traffic and signals. Now the city hopes to work with PSEG to replace the bulbs in the city's street lamps, which would decrease the Newark's electrical use, Nata said.

2. The winter took a toll on city roads. Nata said the harsh winter of 2013 created extensive pothole problems for the city. "That last winter did a number on us," he said. "It really put us behind."

Last winter, the city used "pothole killers," trucks that are operated by one worker which can fill a pothole in less than two minutes. The pothole killers filled about 8,500 potholes this winter, Nata said. Meanwhile, crews filled about 6,200 potholes, Nata said.

3. Water bills may go digital. Residents may soon be able to pay their water bills online, said acting water and sewer department director Andrew Adebowale. The city is looking to launch a portal to allow residents to pay their taxes online as well. Soon after, water bills will be added to the system, Adebowale said.

4. Red-light cameras are working. The city placed redlight cameras at intersections as part of a state pilot program about five years ago. Since then, the city has seen a drop in the number of accidents near intersections with cameras and other nearby intersections, Nata said. If the program continues, Nata, said the city should see an increase in revenue from the program.

5. Code enforcement is lagging. At one point there were more than 30 code enforcement officers in the neighborhood services department, but the department is down to 16. The city hopes to hire additional officers, particularly those who can write citations, officials said.

The departmental budget hearings continue throughout the rest of the week.

Here's the schedule:

— Public hearing for public at 3 p.m.
— Finance
— Administration
— Mayor's Office.
— Council/Clerk

— Economic development
— Health
— Law

— Police
— Fire

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