PATERSON, NJ - A move by Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration to amend the city’s budget cycle to match the calendar year has ushered in a budget plan that includes no local tax increases until at least July 1, 2021.

Pair that with stable taxes in the first half of 2020, municipal auditor Steven Wielkotz said, and local taxpayers are benefiting from six quarters of flat taxes.

As previously reported by TAPinto Paterson, members of the Paterson City Council approved the switch last month meaning that Paterson budget, beginning in 2021, will run from January 1 until December 31. Their action was followed by approval from the Local Finance Board, the state body responsible for overseeing the fiscal condition of New Jersey municipalities.

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Previously Paterson had stood as one of only eight cities in New Jersey that operated on the state’s fiscal year, which begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following calendar year.

The change was an objective identified in Sayegh’s transition report, a list of priorities put together as he took office two years ago. Doing so, the report said, will “make budgeting easier” and align Paterson with how most other municipalities and counties in the state operate. 

While the council offered a preliminary approval of the $133 million spending plan, with $82 million coming from local taxpayers, that will carry the city through the end of 2020, final approval will have to wait until after a public hearing on September 8.

Administration officials had touted the switch to a calendar budget as an opportunity to provide residents and local taxpayers clarity on their annual tax bills, and make it easier to compare them year-to-year instead of some quarters within the same fiscal year being different. 

The change, as is now appearing evident, will also potentially provide an economic boost as the city is expected to receive its standard “state aid” totaling about $30 million through a combination of funds for the first six months of the transition period. During this time, officials said, the city will not incur its largest expense, contributions to the state pension fund, which means the city’s revenue is expected to exceed expenses.

“We knew that switching to a calendar year budget cycle made sense,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said, adding it is something he has pushed for since his tenure on the city council. “Now, with the plan we have put in place, we are seeing that it means dollars and cents back in our taxpayer’s pockets.”

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