Elizabeth – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders plans to approve a bond ordinance authorizing significant fire safety and infrastructure improvements to County property, and a number of smaller items relating to infrastructure and equipment upgrades. A public hearing and final reading will take place at the regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, October 9.
“Union County’s recent AAA and AA1 ratings are solid proof that the Freeholder Board has been, and will continue to be, strongly committed to the responsible management of public finances,” said Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “The new bond ordinance will enable the County to move forward with measures that protect the public welfare, and continue to meet the demand for high quality public services.”
The exact amount of the authorization is $33,441,260. The debt authorized by the ordinance will be $31,137,894. The difference between the two figures is the result of $750,000 in state grants, and a down payment of $1,553,366.
Almost half of the authorized funds will be used to add a stairwell to the County Courthouse tower. The $15 million state-mandated stairwell is required as a fire safety exit. It will be built as an appendage to the 17-story tower.
The Courthouse tower was constructed in 1928 and is listed on the State and National registers of historic sites. Because of its historic status, the project has been reviewed and approved by the State Historical Commission.
A number of other County structures are due for work related to fire safety, compliance with
the Americans with Disabilities Act, and structural upgrades including roof replacements. The ordinance authorizes a total of $3 million for these projects.
Other major items in the authorization include $2.6 million for the routine replacement of traffic signals at intersections on County roads.
“This is all part of the routine business of keeping our infrastructure up to date,” said Estrada. “We take care of our facilities on a regular basis, and we avoid the expensive consequences
The County park system dates from the 1920’s and requires regular upgrades to accommodate the heavy – and growing - use of its facilities. The bond ordinance authorizes $4.4 million for a number projects including $1.3 million for roof replacements, $500,000 for a restoration project in the Deserted Village, and $500,000 for the design and construction of new athletic field lighting. The popular Trailside Nature and Science Center will receive $100,000 for new classroom and auditorium equipment, to bring those areas up to the facility’s state-of-the-art standard.
The County’s Vo-Tech campus will receive $800,000 for the upgrade of its boilers, to accommodate increased enrollment. Vo-Tech will also receive another $800,000 for other campus building upgrades and for the replacement of instructional equipment.
Vehicles are an important part of County operations and they are replaced on a regular basis
to ensure reliability and functionality, and to reduce the cost of repair. Among these, the ordinances authorizes $285,000 for a new bomb squad vehicle, $189,000 for three new paratransit vans, and $200,000 for a new sewer basin cleaner.