RANDOLPH, NJ - The township council voted to adopt the new 2017 Municipal Budget at Thursday’s meeting after completing the months-long process of hearings and reviews.
“I think this is the best budget I’ve seen in years,” commented council member Michael Guadagno. “We always have good budgets, but this one is excellent. Also, with the growth in this town now, we’ll keep it at this level. I can see for a couple years out, we’ll stay at a zero or close to zero [percent] tax levy.”
Council member Al Napoliello echoed this statement saying, “this is the best budget since I’ve been here, which is about 15-16 years now.”
Township Manager Stephen Mountain reminded the council and the public of the guiding principles used to develop the budget. These principles ensure the township is not creating any problems for the future, but balances the public’s expectations of municipal benefits.
“The greatest drivers.... in this year’s budget include continued investment in infrastructure,… the impact of the new recycling collection contract, change in leaf collection policy,” Mountain explained in his presentation to the council. “And as always, salaries and wages are a big driver… Although it is less of a driver than it has been in previous years, as a result of good contract negotiations and management of salary.”
The water and sewer budget increased by 25.47% over last year’s budget due to water main extensions, pump station upgrades and the final phase of the Butterworth Interceptor Project in the Mount Freedom area.
“Balancing the expenses in 2017, we expect continued stability on the revenue side,” Mountain continued. “We are in a very healthy position in regard to fund balance and surplus. The township actually has the pleasant problem of trying to spend that surplus down in a sensible way to support things like infrastructure. And that is a result of good planning and budgeting on the part of the township council.”
Compared to other municipalities in Morris County, Randolph’s Tax Per Person cost ranks the fifth lowest in the county. For 2016, Randolph ranked sixth.
“Meaning that we continue to move toward the best end of the chart, in terms of per person tax impact,” Mountain said. “That’s really a result of a lot of factors: it’s a result of good budgeting; it’s the result of having a very balanced tax base that’s evenly distributed between the commercial/ retail side and the residential side.”
Because of the size of Randolph, taxes can be dispersed to ease the burden of the taxpayer, he added. Many smaller municipalities attempt the same programs and amenities, but with fewer people, causing the rate per person to be higher.
The township also discussed ordinances to approve road re-surfacing projects and the water-sewer capital improvements.
“[These improvements] will pay for themselves as more and more people move into Randolph,” Guadagno stated. “We’re fixing the problems that we had from the development that took place in the late 80s, and we’re catching up. This is drastically needed and it’s going to pay off.”
“It’s a really smart thing to do, to be investing in our infrastructure,” said Deputy Mayor Mark Forstenhausler. “We’ve been improving the roads steadily the past several years…. You start neglecting the roads, you don’t want to get yourself in a position where all of a sudden you have a catastrophic issue with roads, and we’re not going to have that.”