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American Rescue funds provide bonus for Bedminster police


Bedminster Township is providing each of its six police officers a $10,000 bonus as its first fruit from the federal government’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes funding for municipalities that was not included in previous Covid-related federal relief.
The township has already received a payment of $378,000 from the act, and is to receive that amount again next year, with a 2023 deadline for spending all of it.
The grant and bonus intention were announced at the July 14 public board of supervisors meeting, where supervisors also approved a new, collectively-bargained five-year contract for the officers, which calls for a 3% salary increase each year. The bonus, which was discussed during negotiations, is to be officially acted upon separately at the next supervisors’ meeting on Aug. 11. The previous police officer contract, which expires at the end of this year, was only for three years.
In announcing the bonus, Township Manager Rich Schilling noted the group’s exemplary efforts throughout the Covid crisis, including maintaining all of their duties while following strict protocols from their chief, Matt Phelan.
“They performed very well on the front lines, while staying safe themselves, including staying out of the station for two weeks if they traveled out of state,” Schilling said. Regarding the new contract, he added “they are a great group of guys, who know we are a small township, and helped us to minimize our expenses going forward.”
After the meeting, he added the township was “looking long-term, very optimistic about the future, with a young group working under great leadership, toward a continued excellent working relationship.”

Also at the July 14 meeting, supervisors approved the preliminary subdivision plan for 14 townhouse units in two buildings within the 9.5-acre Curtis Tract on Schadle Road. The plan had previously been the subject of a 2.5 hour work session between the supervisors and Better Living Homes’ plan preparer Jason Smeland, P.E. of Lenape Valley Engineering, who also appeared at the June 9 and July 14 general meetings for further discussion.
The township planning commission had previously advised some waivers from its subdivision ordinance, while establishing conditions for its approval of the plan, which was also reviewed with comments by the county planning commission.
Among particular items, toward “alleviating concerns of adjacent community members,” additional buffer plantings were established, and increased to a larger size, while special attention was paid to the well-being of a large pond that is the only current interruption to an entirely wooded, vacant site.
In addition at the July 14 meeting, supervisors finalized a new ordinance “regulating the owners and occupants of rental properties.” The approval followed a spirited discussion among township officials, several landlords, and a long-suffering neighbor of a bad-behaving rental tenant, who had been the subject of 20 visits by the township police.
Originally fearful of new problems for them, even though they had been very responsible in vetting and managing tenants, and concerned about possibly unnecessary new government regulation, the landlords left the meeting apparently satisfied that the new ordinance was needed to further promote quality of life in the township.