PLAINFIELD, NJ – The Plainfield City Council agenda-fixing session on Monday included a vigorous discussion on a topic that could raise residents' taxes. Bond 1269, introduced on first reading, received a significant amount of attention, particularly from council members Cory Storch and Ashley Davis.
The ordinance would authorize the issuance of a refunding bond not to exceed a $600,000 aggregate principal amount for the purpose of funding an emergency appropriation.
Ron West, Director of Finance, explained the options available to fund the appropriation that was not included in the originally approved budget. In lieu of securing funds without going to the bond market, the city would look at using a surplus to temporarily fund the appropriation once it is approved. West explained the need to minimize the impact to taxpayers by spreading the cost over a period of five years.
Storch, whose term ends at the end of the year, recommended that his colleagues pay particular attention to the capital budget for the next year as the impact to the taxpayer is already causing people to leave town. He cautioned the council to draw a line, saying, “Everything can be justified, but not everything can be afforded.”
West stated, “We need to invest in infrastructure, and we need to give the teams the tools they need. “
West added that the impact to the average taxpayer, if taken out of surplus with bond financing for one year, would be $53.71; it would cost $17.91 if financed for three years, and $10.75 if financed for five years.
The local finance board can approve a five-year term, the longest length allowed for special emergency appropriations. Given the current interest rates and Plainfield's improved Moody’s rating, West believes that the city could get a competitive interest rate, and said spreading the expense out over the longer term is preferred.
Councilor Barry Goode asked, “Are we delaying the inevitable?"
Valerie Jackson, Economic Development Director, noted that the number of projects and ratables coming online within the next three to five years will help to generate revenue and produce offsets. She cited the Quin Sleepy Hollow project on South Ave., Muhlenberg, and others that are in various stages of development.
Davis requested details be provided to the council regarding the ratables from all the projects anticipated over the next five years.
New revenues will also need to be balanced with tax appeal losses, which are down to 200 versus 500 previously.
The Council will meet next Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in Municipal Court located at 325 Watchung Ave.
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