Arts & Entertainment

Maplewood Township Committee Proposes $78 Average Tax Hike In New Budget; Plans for Maplewoodstock and July 4th

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Maplewood Township Committee (TC) introduced a proposed $45 million municipal budget on Tuesday night, which includes a 1.92% tax increase over last year, or an average of $78.12 more per home assessed at $497,500.

The TC unanimously approved introduction of the spending plan, 5-0, at the meeting. It will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday, April 17.

“The Township Committee spent nearly 15 hours discussing the budget in hearings, talking about the capital budget, the open space budget, here in our committee meetings,” Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca said during the meeting. “We believe this is a good budget, it’s a sound budget.”

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DeLuca indicated it includes about $100,000 more in storm clean-up funds, $80,000 more for recycling, while health insurance costs are up $90,000 and the Township’s employee pension payments rose $170,000.

On the revenue side, in addition to the tax increase and regular revenues, the budget will also see $150,000 from rentals of The Woodland, $300,000 from the first “payment in lieu of taxes” from developers of the Avalon Bay complex, and a $600,000 paving grant from the state.

“We still have some more work that we will do on it,” DeLuca said of the budget, which apparently includes no major service cuts or job reductions.

This estimated tax hit comes as the Board of Education is also reviewing its own budget, with the most recent version offering a 2.34% tax increase over last year. That final amount has yet to be approved. The board has a special meeting planned for Monday, March 26, where its proposed budget will again be reviewed.

In other news from the TC meeting, the governing body again approved the sale of wine and beer at Mapelwoodstock’s beer garden, this time in a unanimous, 5-0, vote. The event is set for July 14 and July 15, 2018, and marks the music festival's 15th year.

Finally, the committee discussed moving the rain date for the July 4 fireworks to a date later than July 5, which has been the traditional make-up date.

TC Member Greg Lembrich, who chairs the public safety committee, said having the fireworks again the next day puts a strain on some police and overtime workers who are forced to then work two long days in a row.

The tentative plan is to schedule any needed rain date for the following Sunday, which would be July 8 this year.

“One of the big concerns we have about July 5th is that we have always used a lot of the police who were on duty for July 4th for what is a very long day,” Lembrich said. “To have all of our public safety personnel to come back for another large event the next day is a tremendous drain on resources.”

DeLuca said Sunday was considered a good option, noting “the (police) chief was interested in that because it gave him enough time to plan.”

Lembrich also announced there would be more options for discounted tickets for the circus and other Juy 4th events this year.

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