By PETE WALTON
The Neptune City Borough Council will consider an ordinance allowing the sale of cannabis in the borough.
Mayor Andrew Wardell scheduled a workshop discussion at this week’s council meeting to “take the temperature” of the governing body on the subject.
Towns must decide by August if they want to regulate marijuana in the wake of last year’s statewide legalization vote.
Wardell noted that nearby Neptune and Asbury Park plan to allow the sale of cannabis, and Neptune City residents could purchase marijuana there or elsewhere. Neptune City would then miss out on tax revenue generated by the sales.
The proposed ordinance will be discussed at the next council meeting on May 24, which is also the date of the public hearing on the proposed 2021 municipal budget.
The mayor said he expects that council meetings will return to Borough Hall as of June 28. Meetings have been held at the Neptune City Community Center in recent months.
Wardell said he and director Thomas Adcock are continuing to plan for reopening the community center on a regular basis.
Also at its meeting earlier this week, the council approved $395,000 in bonds to finance improvements at Adams Field and on Steiner Avenue.
Pedestrians and persons with disabilities should find it easier to navigate Steiner Avenue once the $425,000 capital improvement is completed. In addition to $245,000 from bonds, a Community Development Block Grant of nearly $180,000 will help pay for the project.
A $400,000 project to improve Adams Field will be paid for with a $250,000 Monmouth County Open Space Grant, $150,000 from the sale of bonds, and $50,000 from the borough’s capital budget.
The bond ordinances were given final approval when the council met earlier this week.
The council approved a corrective action plan drafted in response to comments and recommendations made in the borough’s 2019 financial audit report.
Council members agreed with a recommendation made by Chief Financial Officer William E. Antonides regarding a trust fund maintained by the borough.
“The Other Trust Fund was not accurately maintained by the [borough] from at least 2007 through 2015,” Antonides said in his recommendation. “The current chief financial officer and tax collector attempted to analyze the aforementioned years in an attempt to reconcile the account. However, numerous records that would be needed to substantiate the balances are not available.”
Antonides said the borough “intends to retain the unidentified balance in the Other Trust Fund for a number of years in the event that a valid claim is presented to the borough.”
The amount held in the trust fund is $102,432. There is also developers’ escrow in the amount of $42,937.
Mayor Wardell said Antonides, who is a part-time employee, is continuing to track down the money as his schedule permits while he carries out his regular duties.
The council certified that it had received and reviewed the 2019 audit prepared by Charles Fallon of Fallon and Company in Hazlet.
At the April 26 meeting of the governing body, Councilman Brian J. Thomas noted that the audit had not been received. The state granted a filing extension last year to all municipalities due to the coronavirus response. In October, Thomas said, Fallon requested and received a further extension of time to file his report.
Municipal Attorney Carol A. Berlen said she would review the auditor’s contract to see what action might be possible if the report was not received by the following meeting.
The audit for 2020 is currently being prepared by Robert W. Allison of Holman Frenia Allison in Lakewood. Oliwa and Co. of Freehold was hired to perform the 2021 audit.
The Oliwa firm is the fourth different borough auditor in four years.
Also at this week’s meeting, the council approved the appointment of John Fox to the Neptune City Fire Department.