NUTLEY, NJ - The 2020 Municipal Budget was introduced during the Nutley Board of Commissioners first virtual public meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, May 5. All five commissioners were present from separate locations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remainder of the 2020-year public meetings have been moved online to Zoom until further notice.

Revenue and Finance Commissioner Thomas J. Evans introduced the 2020 Municipal Budget with a PowerPoint presentation. The municipal budget for 2020 is approximately $58 million. Nutley is receiving $2.76 million in transitional state aid and another $487,500 is pending final approval from Trenton. Of that aid, $1.77 million will go to the Nutley School System. Since 2014, the schools received $14 million in aid. The township receives roughly $16 million in revenues. With the revenues and transitional state aid, Nutley taxpayers will pay approximately $42 million in municipal taxes, which is a zero percent increase since last year.

Last year the township received $3.25 million in transitional state aid. Overall since 2014, the township has received $28 million.

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“The $1.1 million in operating cost increases we have been able to offset that by revenues primary through of the planning that we do to make sure that we are prepared for a crisis when it happens. And we have been able to do that this year,” said Evans.

The township’s operating cost increases in salaries is $578,626, and $566,233 in other expenses which includes the property revaluation, pensions and legal fees, for a total of $1.15 million. The Revaluation, although a line item of $110,000 is being covered by the Meka settlement. The debt services decreased by $50,000, the health insurance by $75,000 and garbage by $54,000.

The township lost $400,000 in revenues due to the coronavirus 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, Evans said in order to zero out the budget increase the township released $1.2 million in reserves. Overall the net revenue increase is $1.15 million.

 “[…] the municipality has historically been financially very strong. We have a Aa2 Moody’s Investors bond rating. This enables us to borrow money at a much lower interest rate,” said Evans.

A bond rollover the township did this spring was at 1.43 percent interest.

The township can borrow up to $134.7 million, but only has $13.7 million in outstanding debt, which is only about 10 percent of what it’s able to borrow. “When we take out our debt we don’t take it out for 30 years, we take it out for 10 years,” he said.

Evans said the budget has a new hire freeze put in place and nonessential spending is quarantined until the township knows what new revenue collections look like.

As of May 1, the township has collected 60 percent of the second quarter property taxes. According to Evans, although the proposed budget is set to be voted on June 4, there still could be changes made to it by the end of the year.

Some issues that could reflect change to the 2020 municipal budget after its approval include possible major short fall with township property tax collections, which Evans said is a greater risk in the third and fourth quarter, other revenue issues and although the state has committed to the transitional state aid, if the state’s budget shortfall isn’t cured that may impact their actual ability to make the payment. “Any of those events anything like that to come along or an extraordinary expenditure will result in a change to this budget. So if relief for the state and local government, which is currently pending, doesn’t come through that could impact us going forward,” said Evans.

Further property tax relief is pending with the state that would require law changes through executive order or the legislature. “If that’s not resolved and we are in an environment where every taxpayer is treated universally the same and there is no ability to identify particular taxpayers in need that could have an impact on this budget,” Evans said. He added, “While we’re not clear as to what the future holds we are unified on our determination to minimize any negative impacts on the taxpayers of Nutley.”

Each of the commissioners spoke about the 2020 municipal budget. Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco said the public safety budget was increased. “It has paid dividends […]. We are one of the 50 safest communities in New Jersey which is not an easy feat in this area to say the least,” he said.

“The road ahead is going to be challenging, and I think we are going to have a lot more work to be done between now and June as we move forward,” said Mayor and Public Works Commissioner Joseph P. Scarpelli.

The 2020 Municipal Budget was introduced by Commissioner Evans and approved by all five commissioners. A public hearing will be held during the June 4 Board of Commissioners meeting. Visit the township's website: Municipal Budget to view the full proposed budget.

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 19 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.

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