RANDOLPH, NJ- The council meeting of Thursday, April 24 - Stephen Mountain’s first as town manager – saw the final passage of this year’s municipal budget.

In his remarks, Mountain addressed the broad outlines of the budget document, which over the last few months has been under discussion between his predecessor as manager, John Lovell, now-retired CFO Mike Soccio, current CFO Darren Maloney, and the council.

“Budgets are never a single-year document; they’re a planning tool to tie together over several years.  The 2014 municipal budget continues the township’s tradition of remaining below state-mandated caps,” Mountain said.

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“The 2014 budget is increasing by a total of $518,999 (1.83%),” he continued.  “One of the major drivers that is an element of this increase is the funding required to address the Morris County Board of Taxation’s order to update the tax maps in the coming years.”

“The tax map update combined with revaluation costs will approach $800,000 in total.  Township council has supported the concept of funding both components with cash as opposed to deferring these payments to a later date,” Mountain said, “I think a very sound decision.  If you have the ability to do it in cash then you’re not stressing on future budgets down the road.”

With the budget’s passage, well over half the expected total expenditure for the project is now covered.  “2014 Capital Outlay was increased by $185,000 to fully fund the map project, with an additional $275,000 reserved from the year-end surplus will go toward the upcoming reevaluation,” he said.

A balance of $340,000 will be covered under the 2015 budget.

Mountain continued:  “Randolph has experienced a period of years in which many revenue categories have either remained stagnant or have been reduced due to the recessionary economy.  We are starting to see some signs, hopefully of a trend, that the economic recovery is perhaps starting and we’ll see some stabilizing of property values as well as, and with some of the approved development projects under construction, some enhancements to the ratable base.”

Also at the meeting council held a public hearing over two soil moving permits related to two separate construction projects.  They are: first, a proposed eldercare facility known as “Brightview” on Quaker Church Rd., and second, construction on a new facility for the Hebrew Academy of Morris County on Dover Chester Rd.  Public turnout was nominal and the projects will go ahead.

The first “Mayor’s Trail Trek” will take place Sunday, April 27 at 1 pm, starting at the Heistein Park parking lot.  Participants will have the opportunity to join mayor Loveys in walking a leg of Patriot’s Path, down toward Clyde Potts Reservoir and back.  The health department is offering blood pressure screenings in conjunction with the outing.