SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – In a 5-1 party-line vote last Monday, the Borough Council adopted the 2013 municipal budget. The budget totals $26.8 million, and according to Council President Ray Rusnak, “is $125,757 less than 2012."
“The budget calls for lower salary and wage expenses than a year ago, lower overall spending than a year ago, and lower property taxes than a year ago,” Rusnak said. “In all of my years on council I cannot remember a budget where total salaries, total spending and total property taxes were less than the prior year.”
Despite these reductions, Rusnak acknowledged that the average resident will still see a $19.56 increase in their tax bills due to a reduced tax base. The average home in South Plainfield paid $1,571 in municipal taxes in 2012 and is slated to pay $1,590 in 2013.
Councilman C.J. Diana cast the lone dissenting vote. Diana said he could not support the fiscal direction of the borough and had made his point clear previously about his opposition to borrowing. Diana said he looked at information going back to 2009, and based on what he looked at, could not support the 2013 budget. Diana criticized interest expenses and worried whether short-term decisions were being made at the expense of the future.
Mayor Matthew P. Anesh responded to Diana’s criticisms by pointing out how Standard & Poors had affirmed the borough’s credit rating less than a year ago and by pointing out how borrowing is actually down over the past few years. Anesh then asked, “How could you compare to the 2009 budget? In 2009 the previous administration used a full year’s worth of state aid in a six-month transition-year budget with no regard for the future.”