Lakewood Briefs – April 11, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ -

No Tax Hike in Lakewood Budget

Lakewood’s Township Committee approved an annual budget that will keep taxes steady and calls for a modest spending cut, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press.

The price tag for the budget is slightly over $108 million, about $3 million less than the previous year’s spending plan.

“We are holding off on some hires, deferring equipment purchases,” Mayor Ray Coles told the Press. “We intend to continue with our road resurfacing program, our sidewalk program and hoping that with some money from the federal government that some of those programs will be expanded.”

Amid an anticipated revenue dip, the committee members initially looked for areas to cut back on. Mayor Coles said that tax income was more modestly affected than initially expected.

Departments across the board are being asked to cut their expenditures by four percent, but no jobs of township employees will be affected. Cuts will largely come from not replacing materials like furniture, technology, and automobiles over the coming year.

The budget proposal would keep property taxes basically on par with the previous year.

A final vote on the budget is scheduled to be held in May.

Lakewood Likely to Ban Marijuana Businesses

Lakewood is on track to ban the sale and manufacture of marijuana in the township as municipalities decide how to enact statewide law changes legalizing the drug.

According to a report by the Asbury Park Press, Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein initially proposed the ban citing the large population of school age children in the town.

“I was approached by some of the schools and concerned that we have so many children between the public and private schools that it would be too tempting right in their face,” Mr. Lichtenstein told the Press. “And it got me thinking that that is correct when you have such a young town with so many children in it…I represent the township and nobody has come to me saying they want marijuana sales in town.”

An initial vote on the ordinance banning all businesses that would deal in the drug passed the township committee unanimously, and it will face a final vote on April 22.

Even though, legalizing marijuana was widely supported in the state at large in a public referendum last November, Lakewood voters solidly opposed the move, with 69 percent of the town’s voters voting against it.

Recently, the Monmouth County town of West Long Branch passed a similar proposed ordinance.

Assemblyman Dancer Introduces Bill to Make Digital Driver’s Licenses

Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a bill that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to create electronic driver’s licenses and identification cards to individuals who request them.

The bill follows recommendations from a 2016 MCV study on the feasibility of electronic licenses. It showed that if technology were available, nearly 70 percent of drivers in the state would favor digital licenses that they could store on phones.

“Convenience is a driving factor for many motorists who want to access their driver’s license in their digital wallet. Residents are now able to keep proof of car insurance, health insurance ID cards, airplane boarding passes and so much more in their cell phones. It’s time to make driver’s licenses available in a similar smartphone format,” said Assemblyman Dancer (R-Ocean).

More than a dozen states presently have pilot programs or are working towards offering electronic driver’s licenses.

“Mobile driver’s licenses can be a secure and suitable alternative to traditional IDs for modern motorists,” said Assemblyman Dancer. “Most likely, we have at one time or another, forgot our wallet and drove without a driver’s license, but seldom today do we ever leave the house without our smartphone. Additionally, this innovation could cut down on in-person agency visits, something that will appeal to a great many New Jersey drivers.”