NUTLEY, NJ - Parks and Recreation job losses announced and Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans responds to social media inaccuracies during the Tuesday, May 15 Board of Commissioner public meeting. Commissioner Alphonse Petracco was absent excused.
Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli had a moment of silence for retired longtime department of public works employee Frank “Babby” Ferry Jr. Ferry died on May 8. He was the Water Department foreman. “He always had a smile on his face and everybody always loved his meatballs said,” Scarpelli.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci said in addition to not filling three positions in his department and eliminating three temporary positions he had to lay off four people due to the uncertainty of the 2018 transitional state aid. According to Tucci, by cutting the positions his department is saving $400,000.
“[….] our aid is still in limbo and it was in fact cut last year. …These are not just folks that we causally talk to they’re part of our family,” he said. The township has also not replaced some positions after employees have retired.
Nutley received $5.5 million of transitional aid in 2016. Last year the aid was reduced to $3.625 million, roughly $1.8 million cut. According to Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans only 85 percent of last year’s aid can be anticipated for this year.
Municipal Tax Assessor Edmund Brown will be at the Thursday, June 7 board of commissioner public meeting to share how the tax assessor executes a compliance plan for the township in prior years from the 2011-2017.
“To understand why land values have been adjusted in order to reduce the overall evaluation of the township from its peak at $4.3 billion in 2006 to current value of S3.3 billion,” said Evans
“The reason why we are doing this and raising it is because there is misinformation out on social media sites. When commissioners are being confronted and being asked basically to have statements saying you have a lot of explaining to do because a social media site is suggesting that the commissioners were involved in having their [land value] reduced. It in effect is suggesting somehow that it was done inappropriately. Then we need to respond, so people understand there is integrity within the board of commissioners. So are cards are face up,” said Evans.
All work done by the tax assessor is under the control of the Essex County Tax Board explained Evans. Tax records are public documents and are available for viewing.
“Compliance plans are authorized by the state under state statute. In order to reflect an overall change in the market value of a property when you don’t do a revaluation, which allows you to get access to every single property, the only way you can reflect that adjustment in one’s overall evaluation is specifically to adjust the land value,” said Evans.
Evans explained that tax neighborhoods are the only thing that is consistent. “For each of the commissioners the neighborhoods that we are talking about aren’t 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 homes we are talking about several hundred homes in the tax neighborhoods where the commissioners reside,” said Evans. “When we are being challenged because people somehow think that there is something wrong. Then I think it’s valuable to spend the time here in the chambers,” he added.
Public Affairs Commissioner Steven L. Rogers said, “We are in a very, very critical situation with regard as to where this town is going be going in years to come. In fact we are at a crossroads, something I would have never had imagined sitting on the board for the past few years.
“We’re the first line of government, the municipal government, that people come in contact with and unfortunately we get the blame for everything and, well that’s part of the job. The problem is taxes, high taxes, we as a municipal government don’t control most of those taxes and yet people will blame us and they will blame conditions here in town,” he said.
Rogers said he was in a town where it took 22 minutes for a police car to arrive. “I had a drunk driver 3 o’clock in the morning [ …] landed on my front lawn […] I picked up the telephone [...] and before I put the phone down there were four police cars in front of my house,” he said.
According to Rogers people walk in the township parks because they can’t walk in their own. “Because they are maintained and beautiful parks and the chances of you getting mugged in a Nutley park is almost zero which talks to the issue of public safety,” he said.
Senior citizens can call the township health department and a doctor or nurse will visit them at home said Rogers. “[Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci] has had a war on drugs for a long time […] to get young people involved in programs to keep them away from trouble,” said Rogers.
Rogers said when services are cut towns go downhill. “We don’t want to change the character of this town. We don’t want to cut services,” said Rogers.
Scarpelli said, “if you have a question about anything going on in this town, call us, email us, stop in our place of business we’re available. I’m in the ShopRite every Sunday shopping, you see me there you can ask me any kind of question you want. …There is nothing being hidden here we are all up front.”
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 7.
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