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Bank Suing Schroeder, Tax Appeals, Dam Operations Top This Week's News

Here's a look at the past week in Westwood, Washington Township and Hillsdale.

The Washington Township-based  filed seven lawsuits against State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder Monday, alleging Schroeder owes more than $3.5 million on defaulted loans.

The bank loaned Schroeder's company, RS Consultants, $1.5 million in 2006 and also provided mortgages totalling another $1.2 million for four properties Schroeder owns, including two in Park Ridge and two in Westwood, according to the complaints.

Oritani gave a $640,000 loan in 2007 to , Schroeder's Hillsdale-based company. They also provided him with a $532,000 mortgage in 2010 for a property he owns in Hillsdale.

Property owners appealing their taxes have cost Washington Township more than $687,000 since 2010, not including 65 unresolved appeals from this year.

Residents and commercial property owners can appeal the assessed value of their home or business if they believe they are paying for more than it is actually worth. Appeals have been jumped from 105 in 2010 and 117 last year to 271 this year.

The  could have been more severe if the dam at the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir had not been set at a low level before the storm began, according to Westwood Mayor John Birkner.

The dam was set at 90.3 feet the afternoon before the storm hit and was raised to almost 94 feet in just a few hours, according to Birkner. The storm proved that United Water should follow the operational guidelines suggested by  last year, he said.

The report recommends that United Water keep the dam at the lower level now used in the winter year-round so that it can be raised during storms like the one last week to slow the rate of water flowing into the Pascack Brook.

The Washington Township Council unanimously rejected a plan from Mayor Janet Sobkowicz Monday that would have transferred a Bergen County Open Space grant to the project to re-sod .

The council previously  to bond for $152,000 of the $160,000 to re-sod the field, but Sobkowicz said she wanted to use the $25,000 matching grant — awarded by the county last year to pay for a playground — and other money in the budget to , which will take 15 years to pay off.

"It probably won't last that long," Sobkowicz said about the sod.

Councilmen said they preferred to use the grant for its original purpose and to bond for the sod as they had previously voted.

 recently filled two leadership roles, according to a press release from the hospital.

Laura Cima, the hospital's new chief nursing officer, has previous experience at Hackensack University Medical Center, where was worked as the vice president of clinical operations and previously served as the vice president of nursing. Cima has a master's degree in business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson Univeristy and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the Seton Hall University Graduate School of Medical Education.

The hospital also brought on Anthony Esposito as its new chief financial officer. Esposito was previously the executive director of corporate finance at the Atlanticare Health System in Egg Harbor and the CFO of Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia. He has a master’s degree in finance from Penn State University.

Officials are examining a plan to have Westwood perform emergency dispatching for Washington Township, though the plan may result in the township's police department being closed at night.

Under the plan, emergency dispatching for both towns would be done by a team of four full-time civilian dispatchers, with some per diem dispatchers as needed. Washington Township has been increasing the use civilians, but still has police officers cover their dispatch desk at more expensive rates than civilians in some shifts.

A proposed ordinance introduced by the Westwood Council this week would allow window paintings like those at , but the temporary decorations would be more closely regulated.

Under the proposed law, window paintings would be allowed four times each year for a maximum of 45 days each.  Paintings will need to be removed within seven days of the holiday. No more than 50 percent of the window could be covered.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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