Livingston Council Reviews Municipal Budget with Less Than 2-Percent Tax Increase

Meeting participants included, from left, township attorney Shari Weiner, Councilmen Michael Silverman and Al Anthony, and Deputy Mayor Ed Meinhardt. Credits: Alan Grossman
Participating at the council meeting were, from right, Kim Kietz, chief financial officer, Jeannette Harduby, township engineer, and Nathan Kiracofe, junior utility engineer. Credits: Alan Grossman
Discussing budget issues were, from left, township clerk Glenn Turtletaub, Councilman Rudy Fernandez, Mayor Shawn Klein, and acting township manager Russ Jones. Credits: Alan Grossman

LIVINGSTON, NJ  – As the Livingston Township Council approaches the final vote on the 2017 municipal budget, the mayor and council carefully reviewed requests from all department heads during a conference meeting on Monday.

Mayor Shawn Klein announced that even with each department getting nearly everything it requested, the local purpose tax rate is expected to remain under 2 percent.

Chief Financial Officer Kim Kientz reviewed budget issues with members of the council. The consensus among council members was that the budget was in good shape—especially with the increase in surplus reserves.

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Councilman Michael Silverman said this might be a good time to do some extra things to modernize the way the police and fire departments operate. For instance, he said that e-ticketing could increase the efficiency of the operation, as well as handheld computer tablets that would improve the operations of the Fire Department.

Another suggested addition to the budget was bringing WiFi to the pool areas. Klein said this should be considered further since WiFi is generally not expensive to install.

The mayor also said that further funding for the animal shelter should be considered. Deputy Mayor Ed Meinhardt agreed that it does not make sense to meet the needs of the animals through donations if the facility itself is not up to the standards that are needed for quality animal care.

In other news, resident Bob Hunter said during public comment that the council should do something about the closed Sunrise Cleaners building on 256 South Livingston Ave., which he called “the ugliest eyesore in New Jersey.” According to Hunter, he said this building is polluted, contaminated and should be condemned by the mayor.

Klein thanked Hunter for bringing this issue to the council’s attention and promised to look into the possible contamination issues. He said the new owner would be responsible for the cleanup.

Silverman said it would be wonderful to get a new business into this building, but the township cannot force a landlord to take less rent to fill the space.

“As a 45-year resident of Livingston, it hurts me to look at this ugly cleaner in the middle of South Orange Avenue,” said Hunter. “It should be pulled down. On Memorial Day, we march past it. It’s an embarrassment.”

During the remainder of the meeting, the council approved both a proclamation regarding educating people about who to call if a family member or friend is accidentally poisoned as well as an official flyer for “Pick It Up!” Livingston Clean-Up Day.

This will be Livingston’s first annual community-wide cleanup day, which will take place on Sunday, April 30. The cleanup will take place from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., with an after party at the Memorial Oval from 11 a.m. to noon. 

The council also reminded those in attendance that the second annual Livingston SummerFest will take place on Saturday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Livingston High School parking lot. This fundraising event for the First Aid Squad will feature approximately 50 craft vendors and 25 food trucks. To learn more about this event, call Jackie Lowe at 973-885-1468. 

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