NUTLEY, NJ - Resident questions 2018 proposed budget and credit card payment for parking meters at the Tuesday, May 15 Board of Commissioners open public meeting. Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco was absent excused.

Ordinances

Ordinance Nos. 3385 for non-union employees and 3386 for Teamsters Local 97 will fix the salaries of certain officers and employees of the township effective Jan. 1, 2017.  A second reading and a public hearing will be held on June 19.

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Resolutions

Michael Duva of 189 Chestnut St. submitted an application to make interior alterations. The permit fee was $52.  The township is refunding the municipal permit fee of $40.

Overpayments in taxes in the total amount of $7,848.23 were refunded to 37 Povershon Road553 Washington Ave. and 5 Colonial Terrace.

An off-premise cash raffle license was granted to the Rotary Club of Nutley for Aug. 9.

Sealed bids for nine township vehicles no longer in use, were opened and read on April 18. Marczaks Inc. in Metuchen was the sole bidder and the offer was accepted by the board of commissioners.

The board went into executive session to discuss litigation and contract negotiation. When they returned they passed resolution number 132-18 approving the transfer of greater than 10 percent of membership interests in Kingsland Street Urban Renewal, LLC to HMH Hospitals Corporation or another wholly–owned affiliate of Hackensack Meridian Health, Inc.

Public Comment

Amy Celento of Nutley questioned why the parking meters, particularly the centralized meters in the municipal lots are still not accepting credit cards. “You have to have quarters, I mean its 2018 and if people don’t have enough quarters to put in for the amount of time that they need, then they have to go get change go back to the parking lot, it’s a big song and dance just to park your car and avoid getting a [parking] ticket,” she said.

Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli said the township is looking into resolving the issue.

Celento also questioned the proposed municipal budget. “For 2018 compared to 2017 there is a zero in the budget for pending tax appeals, which looks like it was a revenue line. In 2017 it was $346,596. So far tax appeals are only going the other way in terms of money being refunded or reducing,” she said.

Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans said, “We have an established reserve for risks associated with tax appeals, the most significant one is the pending tax appeal with Prism, which is the company that took over the Hoffmann-La Roche site,” he said.

Evans explained that last year the state notified the township very late in the year that they were reducing the transitional aid by $1.8 million. “We only had one tax quarter to actually absorb that loss of state aid,” he said.

“To close the gap so the tax payers did not get a huge tax bill, which was $1 million, part of the money that we used to offset that tax increase last year was to take the reserve of pending tax appeals and with the approval of the state. It reduced that reserve by the amount of money that you see in 2017. It’s a onetime revenue adjustment and the township can’t use it twice,” said Evans.

According to Evans discussions with the state have been positive and some of the aid lost may be restored. The township will not be able to adopt a budget until the transitional aid from Trenton comes through and that won’t be until the state budget is adopted in July.

Celento also questioned why a revenue line for school crossing guards of $476,000 is on the 2017 budget and not for 2018.

“The other aspect of offsetting was coordination with the school board where they agree to reimburse the municipality for the school crossing guards, which was $476,000. So they reimbursed us last year and took money out of reserves on their side to offset that loss and that can’t be done again this year,” said Evans.

According to Evans so far the township did quite a bit to absorb the tax loss and the tax increase this year. The township made cuts with staff and also consulting costs.

“We were facing in the fall a $2.9 million increase, today we are looking at an increase of almost $1.5 million. …Any way we can find a way to reduce spending we looked at that as part of a review we did this particular year in a more exhaustive way,” said Evans.

Evans reiterated again that there are four major items that comprise the tax increase this year. “The first is under state statute we cannot anticipate the full amount of the aid that we received the prior year. We can only anticipate 85 percent of it. So the 15 percent is $551,000 of the $4.5 million, which was $3.6 million last year,” he said.

The township has an increase in the sewer bill from the Passaic Valley Sewer Authority of $194,000. Due to a short fall in the water utility arising from lower revenues related to water consumption there was $343,000 increase. Also the pension bill from the state was increased to $389,000.

Celento asked about Hurricane Sandy reserve from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She said it is estimated to be budgeted at $102,097. Evans said there is a delay with the federal government and the township has met all the compliance requirements.

Tammy Rossi of Nutley asked again when the definition for mixed use and density would be heard.

Scarpelli said the planning board was invited but unable to attend the May 15 meeting. He said they should be at the next meeting.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 7.

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