NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Board of Commissioners held a public hearing for the 2020 Municipal Budget during their first in-person meeting since March 3 in the Nutley Commission Chambers on Thursday, June 4. Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco was marked absent excused.
While the Board is meeting in person, the public may only participate via Zoom where they are able to view the meeting and speak during public comment in real time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remainder of the 2020-year public meetings have been moved to Zoom until further notice.
During the May 5 BOC meeting, the 2020 Municipal Budget was introduced with a zero percent tax increase. To offset funds lost by COVID-19 the township released a reserve of tax appeals, which related to releasing the tax appeal risk related to the Roche site, now known as On3. A link to the municipal budget is located on the township’s website at nutleynj.org/budget-and-financial-documents.
The township lost $400,000 in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s closure of the courts, meter parking suspension and code enforcement. These lost funds are not reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the CARES Act.
There is a possibility of a major short fall with township property tax collections that could reflect change to the 2020 municipal budget after its approval include.
Nutley is currently receiving $2.76 million in transitional state aid and another $487,500 is pending final approval from Trenton, which could change by the end of the year. The state releases transitional aid funds to the township at the end of the year.
Tammy Rossi of Nutley asked what percentage of residents paid the second quarter taxes. Evans said 94.2 percent of the residents paid. Rossi also asked how much of the reserve was released to offset a tax increase.
Evans said the township release $1.2 million dollars of the reserve into the 2020 Municipal Budget. Although the tax rate for the municipality, library, and county will be zero, there is a 2.7 percent increase for the school’s budget. The overall increase of the tax rate for Nutley is 1.2 percent, due to the school’s increase. “[…] while I sit on the municipal board, and we focus on the five departments, my department has the responsibility to send out a single bill and collect taxes for the county, for the school, for the library, as well as for the municipality [..],” he said.
Rossi asked what happens if the township does not receive the rest of the transitional state aid. Evans said the township would be prepared to address it. He said the commissioners are already in discussions on the issue and is establishing a contingency planning if that happens. “If it becomes that drastic we would have to look at a financing plan,” said Evans. He added, “If we have a short fall of tax collections that is significant, coupled with a loss of the state aid that would have a dramatic effect on our tax collections that could be significant.”
Evans said although the township released reserves from the Tax Appeal Funds at some point they may look at ways to put it back. According to Evans, the township has a policy that it has followed for the last 18 years that the money the township does not spend will be returned to the taxpayers in the form of “applied fund balance.’ This year $5 million of that amount was applied to the budget.
Evans said the reserves are under guidance from the state and the township needs the state’s permission to release any of the funds.
Rory Moore of Nutley asked why the discussion about the possibility of not receiving all the transitional state is not open to the public. Evans said due to contract negotiations and personnel, the township has to follow very specific guidance and rules to protect everyone’s interest. “The specifics of our union contracts would be dealt with by the commissioners of those departments and with legal counsel and advice,” he said.
The Board could not adopt the municipal budget during the June 4 meeting. Due to delays caused by the pandemic, the state is behind in reviewing municipal budgets. Evans said once they receive clearance from the state the Board can vote on adopting the 2020 budget.
The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 16 via Zoom. To gain access to the meeting go to zoom.us/j/98805921694. Password: 876956. For those without computer access or mobile device you may dial into the meeting at: (number based on your current location) US: +1 929 205 6099; +1 312 626 6799; +1 301 715 8592; +1 346 248 7799; +1 669 900 6833; or +1 253 215 8782. Meeting ID: 988 0592 1694.
Since 2016, TAPintoNutley.net has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners first named TAPintoNutley.net the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' in 2019.