PLAINFIELD, NJ — A joint statement from Plainfield city officials announced the 2020 budget has been reduced by almost $2.3 million, with over 100 budget line items impacted. There will also be a zero percent tax increase this year.
Read the full statement:
Mayor Adrian O. Mapp announced that the City of Plainfield, NJ, will have a zero percent tax increase for the budget year 2020.
Finance Committee Chair, Councilor Charles McRae, and Council President, Steve Hockaday were drivers of the process that led the City to a NO tax increase budget. The City made reductions in over one hundred (100) budget lines that impacted every single division. As a result of these budget cuts many programs and planned initiatives will be affected. The City has frozen all hiring and deferred all promotions and attendance at conferences will be canceled for the remainder of 2020. The summer youth employment program is suspended, all pools are closed, and most City sponsored events have been canceled. Consultant lines have been cut or drastically reduced, as well as other line items. The overall budget is reduced by $2,262,000 representing 2.6% of the total budget.
"I asked every Department Director to do a forensic dive into their budgets and to cut all non-essential spending, said Mayor Mapp. "We focused on providing relief for our residents who are experiencing some of the toughest times of their lives. It was not an easy task, and it will impact our employees, city services, and even basic things like office supplies. As far back as we can recall, the City has not had a NO tax increase budget. The financial challenges brought on by COVID-19 require all of us to make hard choices, and austerity measures are needed more than ever before. I commend Councilors Hockaday and McRae for the guidance and leadership they provided as we went through this process. They were thoughtful, firm, respectful, and methodical, and it helped to make a tough process a little easier. We are a city that has weathered adversity and risen to fight again and again. This pandemic has presented the opportunity to stand in solidarity, city government, and residents together."
According to Ronald West, Director of Finance, "There was almost no budget line that was spared as we made cuts. We thank the CBAC, the Council, and the Mayor, who encouraged us to dig deep. I'm happy that the administrative team was able to respond because it took everyone to make this happen. The team took a serious look at their budgets and made tough decisions. In light of the pandemic this will not be painless, but we did what we had to do."
"As Chair of the Council's Finance Committee I, would like to thank my committee members, fellow Council colleagues, CBAC members, Administration and all Citizens who worked and gave valuable input during the budget process," said Councilman Charles McRae. We asked the Mayor and his Administration to make some hard decisions, and they did. We know it won’t be easy operating and providing services on a drastically reduced budget. Still, challenging times call for creative action, and that is what they will provide for Plainfield residents. We have been able to access available resources and explore the feasibility of a Zero Tax budget plan. We were able to stabilize taxes for residents during this unprecedented pandemic, that is challenging all our residents."
Council President Steve Hockaday said, "I'm grateful for the hard work of the Finance Committee in reaching an agreement with the administration to achieve a zero percent tax increase this year. I'm also appreciative of my council colleagues for asking essential questions during the budget hearings and suggesting necessary cuts to the City's CY 2020 budget. We are also indebted to the CBAC for providing useful feedback from the community's perspective and the members of the public who offered their take on our budget. Each of those perspectives was utilized in reaching this unprecedented agreement during this unparalleled global pandemic when residents need relief more than ever. I look forward to formally presenting this amended budget to my fellow council members and am hopeful that they agree that a zero per cent tax increase is appropriate."
The Plainfield City Council will meet on June 8, 2020, at 7 PM to vote on the possible adoption of the 2020 budget. Residents can join this virtual meeting through the Zoom link here https://zoom.us/j/99101955881.
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