NEWARK, NJ - The city administration introduced a $710 million municipal budget proposal for 2019, which would mean more services and a property tax increase.
Under the proposal, the average homeowner would see the local portion of their annual tax bill increase by $103.26 from last year, Newark’s Chief Operating Officer Natasha Rogers said.
An average home assessed at $176,903 would pay a tax rate of 1.916 under the proposal, making the municipal portion of a tax bill $3,389 annually. That is an increase from $3,286 last year on an average assessed home which was $175,460, the submitted budget shows.
The budget proposal must now go through a hearing process before being approved by city council. Figures in the budget could change before it is fully adopted.
“The Mayor and his administration have submitted the budget to the municipal council,” Rogers wrote in an email. “It is now their budget and will make adjustments as they see fit given hearings with directors and the public.”
The largest portion of the local budget would go towards the Department of Public Safety, pension payments and health care, the city said.
The Department of Public Safety's budget would increase from $205 million to a projected $228 million for 2019. Pensions among police and non-uniformed employees are increasing by 11.2%, according to the city. Health care costs have also increased by 4%, the city said.
The budget accounts for hiring 200 police officers and 15 firefighters. The proposal also covers increased funding for the new Office of Tenant Legal Services, 20 new code enforcement officers and animal sheltering.
The budget also accounts for five new urban planners. The Animal and Horticulture account, which was formerly paid for through CDBG funds, would be fully funded too.
The projected local levy would be $231,740,194 and does not include the open space or library levies, the introduced budget shows. That would be an increase of 2.83% over last year's levy, which was $225,365,800.
Between county, school district and local taxes, an average Newark homeowner's estimated annual tax bill would be $6,675, according to the proposed budget.
City records show that last year’s final adopted budget was $690 million, but the modified budget came out to $713 million. The council advanced an ordinance in June that would allow the city to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits - a 2.5% increase - and create a cap bank.
The city will have a community budget hearing to educate residents about the proposal in addition to traditional meetings with each department. The community budget hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 13.
“While the budget hearing is open to the public, for the first time ever, a Community Budget Hearing will be held, in the community, so that residents are aware of why this budget was proposed and what services have been increased and added in order to ensure that the City of Newark and the people of Newark work collectively to achieve an empowered, safer, educated, equitable and collaborative, city,” Rogers said.
Below is the budget hearing schedule. Each hearing will be held in the council chambers of city hall on the second floor. The meetings will also be televised, the city said.
Public Safety: Tuesday, July 9 at 9 a.m.
Law: Tuesday, July 9 at 9:30 a.m.
Economic & Housing Development: Thursday, July 11 at 4 p.m.
Finance/Revenues and Unclassified: Thursday, July 11 at 4:30 p.m.
Recreation, Cultural Affairs & Senior Services: Friday, July 12 at 4 p.m.
Health and Community Wellness: Friday, July 12, 4:30 p.m.
Engineering: Monday, July 15, at 4 p.m.
Public Works: Monday, July 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Water and Sewer Utilities: Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m.
Administration: Tuesday, July 16 at 4:30 p.m.
Office of the Mayor & Agencies: Wednesday, July 17 at 4 p.m.
Municipal Council & Office of the City Clerk: Wednesday, July 17 at 4:30 p.m.
NOTE: This story was updated with the revised hearing schedule from the city on July 3 at 4:43 p.m.