ROSELLE PARK, NJ - Roselle Park Council-members officially introduced the 2019 municipal budget, which would require the lowest tax increase in the past 22 years.

Roselle Park must do an assessment each year in order to determine the overall operating costs of the borough. The resolution to introduce the budget was discussed and approved at the council’s meeting on April 4.

Under the proposed budget, residents of Roselle Park would see their municipal taxes increase by $37.95, compared to an over $50 increase in 2018 and a hike of over $120 in 2017.

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Mayor Joseph Signorello expressed his contentment with the work Councilman Robert Mathieu and the Finance Committee in producing a lower demand on the tax dollars of residents.

“We’ve delivered a fantastically tight budget this year and we’ve heard loud and clear how important it is to stabilize taxes locally. The cost of living is painfully high in New Jersey and we’re doing our best to manage that and make sure that Roselle Park is affordable for everybody,” Mayor Signorello said.

According to Councilman Mathieu, a large portion of the budget’s decrease can be attributed to a shared services agreement in which the borough partners with other New Jersey towns and municipalities to reduce the cost of certain resources and services by purchasing them together. 

“Of course the shared service agreement which was a major component of the budget...That accounts for half the decrease,” Councilman Mathieu said.

Councilman Deiorio, who served a 16-year tenure as Roselle Park’s mayor, complained about the procedures behind the planning of this year’s budget, and that the close work of Councilman Mathieu and the Finance Committee prevented other members of the council from providing their own ideas and input.

“I’m very pleased with the budget. I was not and continue not to be pleased with the process. As you know, in years past, the governing body worked on this process together. It was never something that was owned by one person or one committee,” Councilman Deiorio said.

Councilman Deiorio stated that the $37.95 tax increase could have been under $30 with the implementation of his suggestions, as well as the suggestions of Councilman William Fahoury and Councilwoman Jayme Lynn Negron. He also expressed concern over the Roselle Park’s supervision of gasoline use, which the borough allocates $100,000 for annually.

“My concern is when I asked the Department of Public Works for the gasoline records, except for gasoline records from the Board of Education when they use our tank, there are no records. So we don’t have any monitoring or tracking of the use of gas,” Deiorio said.

In response, Mayor Signorello pointed out that despite Councilman Deiorio’s belief that the budget could potentially still be improved, the current decreases already marked a triumph for the borough in contrast to past years.

“...The budget that was crafted is only 40 percent of the average household increase that was averaged under the last 20 years that we’ve had. Particularly, a large part of that was under your tenure as mayor,” Mayor Signorello said.  “So, while I respect your recommendations, I think we’ve done fantastic work in keeping the budget tight despite some additional uptake in professional costs.”

The council voted to adopt the resolution unanimously and the public hearing to officially approve this budget will be taking place May 2.

In other news, the council passed a resolution 6-0 to support the restoration of off-peak hour one-seat ride service on the Raritan Valley Line and expressed its support of a New Jersey Senate Bill that would create a one-seat ride on the line permanently. The one-seat ride service, suspended Sept. 2018, prevents those commuting to Manhattan from having to transfer lines at Newark Penn Station in order to reach Penn station. 

The council presented certificates to members of the Roselle Park Wrestlers. These wrestlers placed in an assortment of local, regional and state competitions across the elementary to high school age groups this past season.

The council also honored the Roselle Park Green Team, a coalition of residents who met every two weeks for the past eight months to document the borough’s progress in environmental sustainability. Through these efforts, Roselle Park was able to receive a bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey, a non-profit organization that recognizes and supports communities in New Jersey that prioritize the health of their environment.

Note:  Zoe Strozewski is reporting this story as part of the journalism program at Kean University.

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