Second Budget Workshop Lowers Tax Impact To Under $100

Second Budget Workshop Lowers Tax Impact To Under $100 thumbnail
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Published: March 10, 2016 @ 5:29 PM EDT

The budget workshop held on February 25th reduced the tax impact by $37.95 to $98.67 for a house assessed at the new revaluation value of $253,000 – using same collection rate of 97.65%. The actual amount to be raised by taxes decreased by $153,172.50.

A significant factor was the increase of propose Uniform Construction Code (UCC) fees by $10,500 to offset$10,500 added into the appropriation due to potential development which would need additional inspectors. On the appropriations side of the budget, the only change was under Department of Public Works (DPW) salaries and wages which revised the start dates for the replacement laborer and new equipment operator with start date of April 4th – that decreased costs by $42,550. the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) other expenses line item  was decreased by $15,000 based on a new calculated cost for the required Master Plan review.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ken Blum mentioned that the Roselle Park First Aid Squad (RPFAS) put in $647.50 – a flat 5% with no justification, stating, “We feel that they will be able to survive at the existing number of $12,950 again this year.”

Another large decrease was in maintenance of vehicles which was able to decrease by $13,300 from $143,300 to $130,000 due to, in large part, repairs that were needed on the senior bus were lower than what was budgeted. Animal Control was able to decrease by $4,975 due to more registrations of the dog in the trust fund which helped offset costs. There was an increase in the Recreation Committee line item of $2,700 due to a request from the committee at the last workshop for an additional $500 for the Easter Program, $700 for Halloween events, and $1,500 new summer events. Celebration of public events reduced $10,800 for fireworks since they were covered for 2016 although the CFO stated that the municipality is always looking for donations for future years.  The telephone line item had increase of $6,000 to cover the cost of a new web app that would facilitate reporting, documenting, and cataloging issues and repairs – among other things. Gas decreased from $43,000 to $40, 000. Social Security went down $3,250 due to changes made in salary & wages in the DPW. Costs associated with the borough’s Fair Share Housing Plan was decreased by $40,000 from $130,000 to $90,000. The reserve for uncollected taxes – which is a calculation used to make sure the budget is balanced so municipality can pay county & school their taxes – had a decrease of $7,300.

Mandatory increases, before adjustments for revenue, totaled $461,280 for a $110.70 tax impact increase.

DescriptionIncrease AmountTax Impact
Salaries & Wages
$156,257
$37.50
Fire Hydrant Services
$5,000
$1.20
Telephone (Other Expenses)
$17,000
$4.08
Water
$2,000
$0.48
PERS (Other Expenses)
$9,517
$2.28
PFRS (Other Expenses)
$55,542
$13.33
Social Security
$10,750
$2.58
DCRP (Other Expenses)
$100
$0.02
Implementation of Fair Share Housing Plan
$60,000
$14.40
Group Insurance Plan (Other Expenses)
$80,000
$19.20
Health Benefit Waivers (Other Expenses)
$5,000
$1.20
Workman's Comp Insurance (Other Expenses)
$7,000
$1.68
Reserve for Uncollected Taxes
$53,114
$12.75
Total
$461,280
$110.70

Rupen Shah, the Casano Center Director, was brought in to provide details on the Casano Center’s budget. Mr. Shah wanted to have a paid instructor for Zumba, which has an average class of 13-16 people participating on Mondays and Thursdays. A local resident made a donation last year and that donation ran out on March 3, 2016. Mr. Shah stated the instructor would charge $25 per every one-hour class twice a week. The Casano Center Director wanted to have three classes – Zumba, Zumba Gold, and Line Dancing – at $2,400 each for a total of $7,200 for the year. Zumba Gold would be geared to seniors and those who wanted a modified class. The classes would be for free strictly to Roselle Park residents only. The center’s budget was $2,600 and would increase to $10,600 with the remaining balance of $800 needed for the potential bus ride the municipality provides and the copier.

First Ward Councilman Eugene Meola wanted to hear the cost for the celebration of public events before deciding on whether to approve the request for a paid instructor. He stated, “The celebration of public events will be for the whole public, this will just be for about a dozen and a half people, two dozen.”

Mr. Shah proceeded with explaining the costs associated with the celebration of public events. The budget request was $23,950 – an increase of $18,450, and that was for most of the cultural event functions and some new ideas. The potential events included:

  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Wedding Expo
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Older American Bridge
  • Memorial Day
  • Puerto Rican Day
  • Festival of Kites
  • 4th of July Fireworks Celebration (live band and performance)
  • Peruvian Day
  • Senior Picnic
  • Colombian Day
  • Polish-Slavic Day
  • Festival of India
  • Italian Day
  • Casano Center 35th Birthday
  • Christmas Parade
  • Christmas Tree Lighting

Mr. Shah was requesting approximately $1,500 per event to cover entertainment and food. This was based off of Memorial Day Picnic costs which were close to $1,200 for food and $400 for the live band. He stated that he plans to get as many donations as possible however, when he reached out to local merchants and eateries last year, the same donations were not guaranteed. For the Fourth of July, the Casano Center Director wanted to have activities, including a ‘Festival of Kites’, live music games, dance demonstrations from 2 p.m. till the fireworks and get assistance from school organizations, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, as well as the school district. He also was looking to have a “Roselle Park Has Talent” show. Third Ward Councilman Ryan Kelly was supportive of the events but asked, “Is there any fat to be trimmed?”

Councilman Meola, in making his decision, said, regarding the celebration of public events, “If you have to cut something to keep that, cut the Zumba and maybe Zumba could come back another year when everything is looking better.”

Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey asked if it would be too cumbersome or to charge a nominal amount for the regular Zumba class, something like $2 or $5 a class.

Mayor Carl Hokanson added, “Me personally, I like it all. It’s for the town. That’s what we’re here for, to give the taxpayers somewhere they can go to have a little fun.”

The CFO proposed an alternative with the classes to perhaps have one class instead of three. Councilwoman Storey also suggested to perhaps have a half-and-half schedule for Zumba nd Zumba Gold to cut costs.

Mr. Blum stated that he would work with Mr. Shah on a spreadsheet to detail as much as possible per event in order to help council with is decision. Councilman Kelly asked if there was a way to coordinate between the community center, the library, and the Rec Department to see if duplicate or similar events can be combined.

Councilwoman Storey stated that she would like to have the Rec Department come in again to give more details on what summer events or programs were being proposed for $1,500.

Mr. Blum stated that the goal is to get budget introduced by March 24th.

Second Ward Councilman Joseph Petrosky mentioned a letter from Fire Chief Joe Signorello to give the Chief Inspector and the Fire Prevention Official a $2,000 increase in salary. CFO Ken Blum stated, “My response to the commissioner was these budget requests went out in November or were due back in November and listed in there for personnel requests. I think if you want to consider any of it, you can meet as the public safety to discuss I know he said there were potential new revenues to offset it. I think that would be the best function at this point.”

“Tell him to come on the 10th if it’s for operating budget and they want to slip it at the two-minute warning,” stated councilman Kelly.

Councilman Shipley added, “Everything else has been two percent for everybody else and it kind of opens up a can of worms not to mention coming in at the last hour so my opinion is at this point no.”

It was clarified that this $2,000 was above the already 2% increase that the respective officials already received.

Mr. Blum stated that there were no changes in the sewer budget. He also added that the Union County Infrastructure Grant was out and that the municipality was going to request $80,000 in grant with another $80,000 in matching funds to address Larch Street from West Colfax to West Lincoln Avenue.

The next scheduled budget workshop is tonight, March 10th, at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the Municipal Complex located at 110 East Westfield Avenue.