South Orange Trustees to Consider Budget Cuts to Provide Tax Relief

A pie chart shows the breakdown of the $33.5 million South Orange Village budget

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Looking to cut $200,000 from the $33.5 million village budget, the South Orange Board of Trustees asked for a list of possible cuts at the conclusion of a budget workshop session on Monday night.

The board expects to finalize the 2011 budget and tax rate sometime in the next two months. Trustees are debating whether it is feasible to reduce the tax rate increase from 2 percent, which is the current proposal. In order to do that, the board must either dip further into the budget surplus – currently about $2 million – or reduce spending.

Trustee Janine Bauer said that the village cannot continue to operate under what she called “status quo” budgets.

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Village Administrator John Gross said he would compile a list, but he warned trustees that “there’s going to be pain.”

Some trustees also supported using budget surplus for taxpayer relief.  “I think we should use the surplus we have,” Trustee Michael Goldberg said.

However, Trustee Deborah Davis Ford noted the board has spent months on the budget, “and I like what I see.” Village President Alex Torpey cautioned against depleting the surplus. “The more medium- and long-term focus we can take, the better off we’ll be,” he said.

Other budget items discussed at the workshop included:
-- eliminating village funding for nonprofit organizations next year, except for payments involving service agreements. The village currently provides some funding for the Community Coalition on Race, YouthNet and Main Street South Orange. The CCR is considering moving into The Baird community center, but the arrangements have not been finalized.

“I think we should make it extremely clear that we’re not trying to dissolve organizations,” Torpey said. The trustees also agreed it was important to communicate their intentions to the organizations so that they have time to plan.

-- funding for the South Orange Performing Arts Center. Gross noted that the village has budgeted $160,000, which is less than what SOPAC has requested, and that he did not anticipate increasing the village’s contribution.
-- exploring a shared-services agreement with the Maplewood library.

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