NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – After a PowerPoint presentation and a public hearing, the Borough Council complied with state mandates and unanimously approved the 2014 municipal budget.
Council President Michael Gennaro made the presentation to a very small audience at last night’s council meeting (April 28) and introduced a budget that would raise municipal property taxes by 1.88 percent. For the owner of an average assessed home that translates to a $48 annual increase. The assessed value is roughly half of a home’s market value.
During his presentation, Gennaro emphasized that the new budget called for no losses in services to residents and, in fact, restored two full-time positions that were lost almost five years ago during the economic downturn and pressure on tax increases. The restored positions include a police officer and a public works employee.
Preparation of the 2014 budget which began in November of last year presented some major challenges including a $60,000 increase in health insurance premiums and a $2 million reduction in assessed valuation.
There are also modest salary increases for both union and non-union represented employees. “Our employees have co-operated with us in our time of need and the tough decisions we’ve had to make in the last five years,” Gennaro said.
In helping to reduce the tax load on home owners, the borough has been pro-active in forging agreements with other communities that provide both expense savings and revenue opportunities, Gennaro said.
Talking about shared services, Councilman Robert Munoz introduced two resolutions accepting the Township of Millburn into the New Providence and Summit emergency services dispatch center.
Construction of the new dispatch facility is already underway at the New Providence Municipal Center and is expected to become fully operational in September, Munoz said. Millburn will contribute $350,000 to become an equal partner in the effort.
“The addition of Millburn will enhance savings for all three towns,” Councilman Armand Galluccio said.
On a different topic, Galluccio said the borough’s Diversity Committee was holding a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the DeCorso Center (formerly the Senior Center) on Monday, May 5.
Councilman Gary Kapner who stays on top of economic activity in the borough said that a consultant preparing a downtown master plan with an emphasis on parking was due to provide an up-date on May 19.
The condition of the borough’s recreational fields has been a hot topic for several years. Councilman Jim Madden said that planning efforts on Lincoln Field are under way with initial drawings and a public meeting tentatively planned for the week of May 12. He added improvements could start as early as June with completion in late October.
The borough's annual Independence Day fireworks celebration is just about two months away. Councilman Dr. Rob Robinson was quick to note the generosity of Investor’s Bank and in particular Dan White to fund the $11,000 fireworks celebration.