WOODLAND PARK, NJ - The Borough of Woodland Park approved its 2017 municipal budget at the recent council meeting on March 15. According to Mayor Keith Kazmark, the rise in healthcare costs remains a primary factor in the borough's expenses.
After a public hearing, the council passed the total operating budget expense of $17,606,645, up $525,090 from the prior year's amount of $17,081,555.
Municipal taxes under the spending plan are set to increase by $66 for a home assessed at the borough average of $345,741. The approximate average tax amount to be paid for the year to the borough is $2,608.
Kazmark reiterated that the primary rising cost factors include $105,000 for salary and wages, which include eight Department of Public Works employees and 11 police officers hitting step increases this year. Other contributing factors to the increase were $238,000 in health benefits and $41,000 in health department services, through a newly shared services agreement with the county.
Kazmark added that the Department of Public Works staff, clerical staff and police dispatchers will be contributing towards their healthcare costs. The police department is currently in its third year of contributing, required by statute, which will help to alleviate costs.
The mayor noted that the borough is offering multiple and diverse health plans for its employees as well as less expensive plans to meet the different needs of employees.
Additionally, he said there have been nominal to no increase in the borough's operating expenses over the last number of years. The borough also recently entered in a shared services agreement for health department services with Passaic County. He noted that the prior shared services contract with the City of Paterson was not meeting the current needs of the municipality. A minimal increase is also set for the local library's operating budget of $15,660. The amount is statutory and is based on the value of the municipality. Any amount not spent is added into the borough's capital account, according to Kazmark.