Business & Finance

Summit Council Introduces $44.4 Million Budget--Tax Increase on Average Home $72—Slightly Higher Than Anticipated in February

Summit Shade Tree Advisory Chair Christina Amundson accepts a proclamation from Mayor Jordan Glatt designated April 29 as Arbor Day in the city.

SUMMIT, NJ - A $20,000 increase in Board of Health spending—to fund a part-time staff member—caused the 2011 budget for municipal purposes introduced on Tuesday by the Summit Common Council to result in a tax increase of 1.99%, rather than the 1.96% increase anticipated when the governing body did its first rundown of the spending plan in February.

City Business Administrator Christopher Cotter told The Alternative Press that the adjusted figure will result in a tax increase of $72 on the average Summit home—assessed at $410,000. That is $2 more than the increase projected in February.

Total general appropriations now are expected to total $44,454,587.28 according to Cotter.

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Because Summit is a Type 1 school district, the school debt is added to the municipal appropriation, he added.

City Chief Financial Officer Scott Olsen also noted the budget in support of the Summit Public Library will be shown as a separate item on municipal tax bills this year due to legislation recently passed in Trenton. 

The public hearing and possible final adoption of the budget are scheduled for May 3.

In another budget-related matter, Parking Services Director Rita McNany reviewed parking utility practices and expenditures for the last 10 years.

She said parking facilities are fully funded by user fees, parking regulations are enforced by the agency and, particularly in the last five years, the agency has made a concerted effort to improve the parking experience by updating technology.

Discussions are underway, McNany added, for instituting paid shopper parking at the tier lot and at the DeForest Avenue Facility, e-ticketing is being phased in through the parking services agency and city courts and the city finance department have been made more efficient by moving the parking agency bookkeeping function directly into the parking agency office.

She added the agency has returned $1,550,000 to the city in the last 10 years to offset municipal taxes.

A city resident whose daughter received a fractured skull on March 25 when hit by falling pieces of pipe in the tier garage questioned the agency’s commitment to security, however.

The resident said police told her a security camera in the garage had outdated videotaping equipment and, thus, could not provide an identifiable photograph of the suspect in the incident.

Community Services Director Beth Kinney replied her department had been working with the police department to upgrade security cameras at all the city’s parking facilities.

Although a “live 24-hour feed” probably would not be possible, Kinney added, police would be able to return to a scene after an incident to determine if a crime had been committed.

She noted the police and her department had been working with city information technology staffers to put a network and computer system in place to properly upgrade the systems and a priority list for installation would be instituted.

It was a difficult process, she said, but specifications were expected in a few months so the city could go out to bid for the equipment.

“I also am frustrated with the process,” she noted.

On another financial matter, council Finance Committee Chair Richard Madden outlined the capital plan for 2011 through 2016.

Possible 2011 expenditures include $2 million for upgrading the recreation center, $3.2 million for road improvements and $550,000 for new garbage trucks.

Cotter said on the recreation center the goal is to have the facility serve both youth and senior citizens and the sale of the city-owned property at 2 Walnut Street possibly could fund a portion of the cost.

General Services Committee Chair Michael Vernotico said the committee is scheduled to meet with the architect April 12 to get some idea on the parameters of the project.

Cotter cautioned the project may not be completed until 2012.

The council also authorized renewal of the city’s agreement with Millburn for joint fire dispatching services with the city for another year, at a cost of $162,000 to Millburn.

First Chief Joseph Houck also said the Summit and Millburn fire chiefs will meet with their staffs on April 28 to determine the next steps in a proposal for increased shared services between the two departments that could lead to the consolidation of the two entities.

On a related matter, the governing body authorized $25,000 as Summit’s portion of the $75,000 cost of hiring a consultant to make recommendations on the proposed joint emergency dispatch system that would be located in New Providence and would serve Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights. 

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