NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – After holding a public hearing, the Borough Council unanimously approved a 2013 budget that will raise municipal property taxes by 2.24 percent.

Council President Michael Gennaro said the increase equates to $61 a year to the owner of an average home with an evaluation of $282,000.  The evaluation figure is about half of a home’s market value, he added.

“This year’s budgeting efforts seemed to go easier and smoother than in the past,” he said.

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Gennaro added the biggest challenges borough officials faced in preparing the 2013 budget were health insurance premium increases of $80,000 and salary increases for both union and non-union employees.  

Complicating the budget process was the loss of 1% of the borough’s net valuations from mostly commercial property tax appeals which totaled over $12 million.

In other action, the council approved the introduction of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of almost $2.4 million in bonds or notes to finance various capital improvements.   

Major improvements include $308,000 for the borough’s streets and roads program and $397,000 to replace pumps and valves and improve infiltration and inflow remediation at the Waste Water Plant. 

In addition, $287,000 will be spent on various improvements to municipal buildings, Memorial Library and the Senior Center.

The acquisition of vehicles, jetvacs and sweepers will total $747,000. 

The Recreation Department will receive $183,000 for the reconfiguration of Lincoln Field and the installation of a new playground structure.

Other capital expenditures include funding for the Fire Department, Rescue Squad, Emergency Management Office and the Police Department.

Also at last night’s meeting, the New Providence Athletic Foundation made the second payment on an $110,000 note that was used to fund the installation of lights at Lieder Field at the local high school.  Bill Harvey, Vice President of the foundation, presented the council with a $24,500 check leaving a balance of about $15,000

Also attending last night’s meeting were two members of the NJ Sharing Network to notify the council of an upcoming 5-K annual walk to raise funds for the organ procurement organization 

Pamela DeLuca, Assistant Director, said the annual event will take place on Sunday, June 9 at 691 Central Avenue in New Providence.  For additional information visit their website at njsharingnetwork.org.  

Union County came under some criticism from council members for its failure to respond to borough requests for financial assistance in special events such as Memorial Day, Independence Day and the Downtown Street Fair.  Councilman Dr. Bob Robinson said that several requests to the county had been ignored.  He also noted that Union County’s taxes have increased 8.5% for 2013. 

“We’ve sent the county four letters in the last nine months,” Robinson said. 

On a brighter note, Robinson said that an anonymous borough resident contributed $50,000 toward the purchase of an $87,000 bus for Senior Citizens.