PARAMUS, NJ -The Paramus Mayor and Council introduced its 2019 municipal budget Thursday evening, which includes an increase in property taxes for the first time in eight years.
However, Mayor Richard LaBarbiera noted that officials still have work to do on the $68 million spending plan before they hold a public hearing and final vote on Aug. 21.
Under the introduced budget, $41 million would be raised through property taxes, which translates into about a 1% increase on the municipal portion of tax bills. The average assessed home in the borough, which is about $500,000, would see a $133 increase.
“It is a bipartisan budget,” LaBarbiera said. “We’ve continued to be fiscally responsible and maintained a tight grip over operating budgets, which have stayed flat. However, there were some unforeseen costs.”
Among those expenses:
16% increase in Bergen County Utility Authority sewer charges ($494,000). According to the mayor, officials anticipated the increase would be around 2%.
13% increase in Pension Obligations/Statutory Retirement ($725,000). The borough expected that increase to be 4%, LaBarbiera said.
Additionally, the borough anticipated $300,000 to cover worker’s compensation claims, however $700,000 is needed, the mayor said.
“We continue to expand our tax base and generate revenue through shared services, enabling us to not only offset much of these unforeseen costs, but also continue to meet the growing needs of our residents,” the mayor said.
Those needs over the last year include hiring additional police, increasing funding to the borough’s volunteer fire department, senior center renovations, a joint project with the board of education to install lights at East Brook Middle School and investing in apparatus for emergency services, he said.
“Even with the increase as introduced in the budget, the taxpayer is still paying less than they were nine years ago on the municipal portion of their tax bill,” the mayor said. "We know how hard the taxpayer works for their money and priority number one has always been ensuring that we are most prudent with the borough's spending."
“We will continue to sharpen the pencil before the budget is finalized,” LaBarbiera said. “Looking ahead, the majority of these costs will be offset with anticipated additional new revenue slated for 2020.”
During Thursday’s introduction, the council voted 5-1 to advance the budget with its two Republican members splitting. Councilwoman Jeanne Weber voted in favor of the budget introduction while Councilman Chris DiPiazza voted against it. Weber and DiPiazza sit on the Council Budget Committee along with Democratic Councilman Pat Verile, which is tasked with crafting the annual budget along with borough managers and offering input on potential spending cuts and revenue increases.