Business growth, retention, relationships prioritized on the new commission
MILLVILLE – Economic issues will be a priority with the newly sworn in Municipal Commission.
Vice-mayor Joseph Sooy, back in power after a four-year absence, presented several planned actions during Thursday’s reorganization meeting.
Sooy highlighted hopes for substantial, though unspecified, new money from a recently restored New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone program. Sales tax revenues from qualifying UEZ businesses in designated areas were a major source of revenue for the city until New Jersey essentially cut revenue access about a decade ago.
In August 2021, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver promulgated the Urban Enterprise Zone Reform Bill. The legislation reinstated and revised the program and allocated $ 42.5 million in “aid funds” for 2022.
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There are 32 UEZs in the state, covering 37 municipalities. Millville and Vineland operate a joint zone program.
On Friday, Sooy said the city was reviewing measures to comply with the law, including setting up a non-profit corporation to administer the funds. Vineland took similar steps in 2021, he said.
In addition, the new governing body seeks to bring back an improved version of the old municipal industrial commission. The previous municipal commission disposed of the body in 2018, following protests.
“It will have a different name and a different organization,” Sooy said at the meeting. “And he will have a budget. And he will have the power to make decisions, which he did not have before, which will greatly benefit the industries of Millville and the industries that want to come to Millville.
In another business-oriented move, the commissioners voted unanimously to begin the process of repealing the changes adopted in December 2021 to the Sewer Ordinance. A second hearing on the repeal measure is scheduled for February 1, which may be followed by a vote on whether to finalize the repeal.
Sooy, who is director of the revenue and finance department, said the objection to the order is its inclusion of a tariff increase for industrial and commercial customers. The tariff increase is not necessary to support the operation of the city’s solid waste treatment facility, he said.
“So I know that I and the members of this committee want to encourage economic growth and encourage businesses to come here,” Sooy said. “Don’t discourage them with a rate hike. Therefore, for this reason, this ordinance should be repealed.
“The additional aspects of the ordinance will be reviewed by our new municipal engineer and will then act accordingly,” he said.
The municipal commissioners also approved the hiring of Raymond Compari as a part-time municipal administrator. City administrator Regina Burke, who was a full-time employee, stepped down at the end of 2021.
“Mr. Compari has an outstanding CV, especially as Assistant Dean at Rutgers University,” said Sooy. “He brings a wealth of teaching, science and management experience, including his work as a as a consultant for businesses and governments all over the state, so it will be great to have him on board.
Compari is the husband of a former commissioner, Dr Lynn Porreca Compari.
Joe Smith is a native of NE Philly who transplanted to South Jersey over 30 years ago, keeping an eye on the South Jersey government. He is a former editor and current editor of the Vineland Daily Journal, the Cherry Hill Courier-Post and the Burlington County Times.
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