Summit Council Introduces First Tax-Decrease Budget in Recent Memory

April 2, 2014 at 8:49 AM

SUMMIT, NJ—Summit taxpayers, for the first time in recent memory, in 2014 will see a $14.78 decrease in the municipal portion of their property tax bill if the municipal budget introduced on Tuesday is adopted after its May 6 public hearing.

According to common council finance chairman Mike McTernan, the proposed $47,316,053 spending plan will mean a 0.38 percent drop in taxes for municipal purposes.

McTernan was quick to point out, however, that the property tax bill received by Hilltop City homeowners is composed of three sections—a municipal purposes tax, a tax in support of the city’s schools and a tax to support Summit’s share of Union County government costs.

Sign Up for E-News

The school budget, recently approved by the city’s board of school estimate, will result in a school-year increase in taxes for education of about 0.25 percent, the council finance chairman said. However, since the school tax bill includes levies for the second half of this calendar year and the first half of next year, the increase actually will amount to about 1.06 percent.

Union County’s budget, although not yet finalized, is expected to increase by 10.6 percent this year, resulting in about $1.5 million more coming out of the city in support of county expenses.

Getting back to the city budget, McTernan said decreases in employee healthcare and pension costs helped rein in the city’s bottom line this year.

In his overview of the proposed spending plan, city administrator Christopher Cotter noted that city appropriations are up .51 percent for 2014.

He added that the parking utility surplus would increase by $50,000, bringing it to $250,000; grants of $4,400 would be offset by appropriations, and an assistant administrator position would be added this year at a cost of $60,000.

Cotter said the assistant position, which was contemplated before he became administrator, would bring in someone who could more easily move along advances in technology and human resources projects.

Other highlights of the municipal budget pointed out by the administrator were at $100,000 reduction in municipal surplus, a $40,000 reduction in appropriations for Social Security and reductions in general city hall employee pension costs and police and fire pension costs amounting to about $246,000.

He also noted that salaries and wages take up about 47 percent of the proposed budget and employee benefits about 21 percent.

The parking utility budget, also introduced on Tuesday, includes a revenue increase of 7.4  percent and an increase in expenditures of 9.6 percent.

Cotter pointed out that new parking pay stations and increased bank fees from PNC Bank were two of the reasons for the increase in expenditures. He added that the parking utility soon will seek requests for proposals for new banking services.

The city’s sewer utility budget also was introduced on Tuesday, with a $106,000 expenditure for the city’s share of the Millburn Crossing project, which affects Millburn and South Orange in addition to Summit.

The administrator added, however, that New Providence will pay a portion of the Millburn Crossing tab because it shares some of Summit’s excess sewer capacity.

Cotter added, however, that Summit will see almost no increase in its user fees as a member of the Joint Meeting Sewerage Authority of Union and Essex Counties.

Second Ward Councilman Richard Madden, noting the decrease in city taxes and the slight increase in the school budget, said Union County was “vastly overspending” and its expenses needed to be brought under control. He added that $36 million will be going from Summit taxpayers to the county this year.

All the good work that Summit did in reining in its budget was being negated by the county and the state equalization formula, which he calls a “redistribution formula,” according to Second Ward Councilman Patrick Hurley.

First Ward Councilman Albert Dill, Jr. said Hilltop City taxpayers need more ways to find out what is really going on in the county because Summit is leaving things out it its budget that could benefit the city because “we are getting clobbered by the county.”

McTernan noted Summit only gets back 10 cents for every dollar it sends to the county. He echoed Dill’s comments that county expenditures prohibit the city from doing many things it would like to do.

Mayor Ellen Dickson said Summit residents should press the legislature to explore dissolving of county government, at least in the northern portion of the state, and urge that a “hard” 2 percent “cap” be put on county spending.

Speaking of the “cap,” the council on Tuesday also introduced an ordinance to establish a “cap bank.”

McTernan explained that the term “cap bank” really is a misnomer, since the city is not really “banking” any money.

Under state law, he noted, there is a cap, in addition to the 2% cap on property tax increases, which limits spending to the lower of 2 percent or the cost of living adjustment, applied to most of the previous year’s appropriations. This year’s cost of living adjustment is 0.5 percent.

Under the cap bank law, municipalities, when authorized by ordinance, can appropriate the difference between their actual final appropriation and a 3.5 percent percentage rate, as an exception to the cap, in either of the next two succeeding years.

McTernan explained that the difference between the appropriations cap and the 3.5 percent level can be used by the city in case of emergencies. Expenditure of the difference, he said, would not be appropriated unless specifically authorized in a separate measure.

In another action on Tuesday, the governing body authorized execution of temporary easements with three property owners whose properties border the Salt Brook so the brook stabilization project can proceed.

Dickson also announced the appointment of Deb McCann, who currently serves on the library board of trustees, to take over the seat of Edgar Mokuvos on the board of education when his term ends in May. McCann is employed by Dun and Bradstreet.

The mayor also announced reappointment of Celia Colbert, who currently serves as board of education vice president. Colbert, former vice president of corporate strategic markets for Merck & Co. Inc., is expected to take over as board president in May.

In other items, the council heard a presentation by student volunteers to the Summit Free Market program, operated since its inception by students out of the Summit Transfer Station. Residents may bring items they no longer need to the free market and others may choose the free items from the market.

Volunteers introduced Tuesday were Claire Harrison, Jamie Macpherson, Phoebe Rhinehart, Oscar Dawson, Nick Lalicato and Serena Thomas. Harrison noted the major goal of the group this coming year is to work for a permanent building for the free market.

Summit Conservancy members David Naidu and Judy Madelbaum also told the council of their newly-formed group, whose goals are to promote environmental education, sustainability and trail maintenance.

Naidu added that the non-profit group has applied for federal 501(c)(3) status and will be helping the free market raise funds for its permanent facility.

Christine Truhe of Bonds of Courage also asked the council to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the group, whose mission is to support American troops serving oversees and their families through offering compassion and working on such causes as housing for homeless veterans and suicide prevention.

She said the group recently expanded its reach and now is headquartered in the National Guard Armory in Westfield, although it was founded in Summit and depends greatly on city residents for support and providing its members.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


The Working Man Conned

January 22, 2017

The changing of the guard is now complete, and America has entered an era of uncertainty with dark threats to our existing democratic institutions which were built by strong willed men and women over a period of almost three centuries.

A real testing of our moral courage is before us, and we the people will be challenged every single day like never before in our history. This new era of ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, January 24, 9:15 AM

The Connection, Summit

Total Body Kick

Arts & Entertainment Health & Wellness


Tue, January 24, 10:00 AM

Summit Free Public Library, Summit


Community Calendar Education

Tue, January 24, 10:15 AM

SAGE Eldercare, Summit

Fun-to-Be-Fit Exercise Class

Community Calendar

Summit Fire Department Blotter

Dec. 1, 2016 0233 - Units responded to a motor vehicle accident with injuries and an overturned vehicle with possible extrication. Incident located at mm 10 Route 24, West.  Springfield and Millburn FD also on scene.  Summit provided a safety block, and for scene safety and assisted with securing vehicles.  

Dec. 5, 2016 at 12:25 - Units dispatched to a PARK AVE apartment for a ...

Summit Police Blotter

January 23, 2017

01/08 - CJ H. Garifalos, 20, of Union was arrested for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license and a contempt of court warrant. Mr. Garifalos was released with a pending court date.

01/09 - Christopher V. Guerriero, 29, of West Orange was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, possession of CDS in a motor vehicle and use of paraphernalia. Mr. Guerriero was released ...

Audio: Point View's Petrides Talks Money Management in Light of Pending Fed Rate Hikes

January 22, 2017

Point View Wealth Management's Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, John Petrides, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal discussing the Fed’s path to a normalized 3% rate hike possible by 2018:

Point View Wealth Management, Inc. works with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio management services and comprehensive financial ...

Video: Point View's Dietze Says Beware of Headwinds in 'Market Call' Appearance

Point View Wealth Management's Founder, President, and Chief Investment Strategist, David Dietze, answers audience questions on BNN's 'Market Call':

Point View Wealth Management, Inc. works with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio management services and comprehensive financial planning, to develop and achieve their financial ...

Closed Fund Open Mind

Closed-end funds (CEFs) can play an important role in a diversified investment portfolio. They offer benefits similar to those of an open-end mutual fund, but also sport unique advantages.  

Unlike a traditional open-end mutual fund, CEFs have a fixed number of shares available to trade. Their price is not tied to the value of the underlying portfolio. The only way the number of shares ...

Raising The 'Bar' When Celebrating Life's Milestone Moments

The renovation of the event space at the historic Grand Summit Hotel in Summit was directly aimed at creating a lighter, brighter, more welcoming space that would promote a party atmosphere inherent to the wedding and Bar / Bat Mitzvah and wedding celebration. The results have been embraced by the Hotel's very loyal clientele, as indicated by the strong repeat activity in the large social ...

Students Showcase Their Creative Talents

Summit High School offers students many educational opportunities outside of regular math, science, history, and English classes. There are academic help centers open during the school day, AP and honors courses and college fairs. Until the creation of 'Word!' open mic, however, Summit High School had fewer opportunities for its more creative students.

'Word!' open mic is a ...

Step Right Up

Let’s make America the Greatest Show on Earth Again.


I was very sad to learn that after 146 years of big-top entertainment the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is folding its tent and leaving town.


This comes a year after the circus, due to mounting pressures from animal rights activists, got rid of the elephants.


It is not really ...