SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Scotch Plains Township Manager Al Mirabella formally presented the Township's $25 million municipal budget to the Scotch Plains Council for a vote by which it was unanimously approved.

By the Numbers:

  • Tax rate remains flat
  • $25,666,022 total municipal budget with $15,009,708 raised by taxes
  • Amount that the Township is under state-mandated 2% cap: $197,120
  • Surplus used: $3,400,000

Mayor Al Smith was quick to remind residents that "This is not your total tax budget." The municipal budget represents roughly 17 percent of each tax dollar paid. The Board of Education accounts for about two-thirds of each tax bill, and Union County gets the remainder. If those entities raise the tax burden, Scotch Plains residents will see an increase in their overall tax bill, despite the municipal freeze on increases.

Sign Up for E-News

"This is not a one-time event; it is a one-year budget process," said Mirabella. "It is something we review on a regular basis. In June, we will have a midyear review." 

During the presentation, Mirabella outlined the Top 10 Goals of the Township:
  1. Ensure public safety
  2. Continue progress and implement redevelopment strategy (has come so far, so fast)
  3. Provide efficient and cost effective municipal services
  4. Improve communication with residents
  5. Protect and preserve the rich history of Scotch Plains
  6. Improve recreational and senior citizen programming
  7. Promote shared services opportunities
  8. Implement new finance system
  9. Increase the number of grant opportunities
  10. Maintain an affordable municipal tax code.

The Township Manager also listed some initiatives for 2018: introducing a flat Municipal budget to keep Scotch Plains affordable; maintaining and strengthening the Township Aaa bond rating; a continued focus on downtown redevelopment; public safety measures, including increased police presence in schools; looking for shared services opportunities and budget realignment (moving items from capital operating budgets and not taking on unnecessary debt); continued investment in infrastructure; and a focus on communication.

Among the upcoming notable public events that Scotch Plains will present this year: an Earth Day celebration on April 21; Fireworks on June 30 with a performance by The Scotch Plainsmen; movie nights, concerts, and a downtown car show; the 5K Patrick's Race to Summer; and holiday celebrations.

During the presentation, Mirabella welcomed new Leadership Team members: Fire Chief John Lestarchick; Recreation Director DJ Salvante; Downtown Redevelopment Coordinator Tom Strowe ("The Rookie of the Year"), and Township CFO Teddy Georgiou. 

Among the capital expenditures upcoming are engineering (general road construction), new vehicles for the DPW, and equipment for the police and fire departments, and upgrades to the bathrooms at Brookside Park.
 
"You are in good shape monetarily," Mirabella concluded at the end of the detailed presentation. "Other towns are envious."
 
"I think this budget is sound," praised Councilman John Del Sordi. "Could we do better? All the time. Finding the money for police in the schools (is a good thing). We put it in there and then had to cut something else. This town, first and foremost, is about public safety. I commend you, and I support it."
 
Councilman Ted Spera called it "an excellent budget," while Councilwoman Rose Checchio noted that "We all really prioritized." Deputy Mayor Llewellyn Jones praised the work of Township CFO Teddy Georgiou: "Well done on the budget in your first time."
 

TAPintoSPF.net is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.