SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – In a unanimous 5-0 vote, the Scotch Plains Township Council approved its $25.4M operating budget for 2017 its business meeting on Tuesday evening. This will translate to an average tax increase of slightly more than $35 per home for the Municipal component of property taxes. The increase falls below the state’s 2 percent property tax cap and the budget was introduced last month. A $3.4M surplus has been built into the budget.
Township Manager Al Mirabella outlined some of the key components of the budget in a 20-minute presentation to the Council while emphasizing on public safety, various investments to infrastructure and commitment to downtown redevelopment.
The public safety component, which accounted for more than one-quarter of the budget, included a number of investments including the addition of two new police officers and four new special police officers.
Mirabella added that this was the first time in more than 25 years that Scotch Plains allocated additional funds to increase the size of the police force after several conversations with Police Chief Ted Conley, citing more than a 30 percent increase in the population size over the last quarter-century as a motivating factor.
Among the primary goals for 2017 were:
- Developing and implementing a business district strategy
- Improving communication with residents
- Protecting and preserving historical areas of Scotch Plains
- Improving recreational opportunities and senior citizen programming
- Increasing the number of grant opportunities
“We were able to accomplish a lot in this budget while providing an affordable tax rate to our residents, and I think we did a great job,” said Mirabella. “I couldn’t be in a better position to deliver this message.”
The Council weighed in and offered their insights.
“I believe that this is a good budget and serves the town well,” Mayor Al Smith said following the presentation as he touted public safety and downtown redevelopment among the top priorities in the financial plan. “This sets us up well for future success.”
Councilman John Del Sordi voiced his concerns with the allocation of some of the items in the capital budget, but was pleased that everyone participated in the public process and was encouraged that there was open space in the budget.
It was announced at the meeting that Township CFO Lori Majeski, who served Scotch Plains for the last 16 years will be retiring.
“She’s one of those leaders who has been great for the town and I will miss her very much,” said Mirabella, who reviewed the preliminary budget with Majeski in the Fall of 2016. “She’s done an excellent job with the budget and has carried a balance of discipline and professionalism that has kept Scotch Plains running strong.”
The adopted budget can be viewed on the Scotch Plains website.