Government

Summit Council Introduces $42.4 Million Budget for Municipal Purposes with Tax Increase of $9.25 on Average Home; Merchants Condemn Paid Parking Program

Mayor Ellen Dickson and Summit Community Programs Director Judith Josephs present the Professional of the Year Award from the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association to community programs assistant director Mark Ozoroski. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Jamie Colucci accepts the Agency Showcase Award for the content of the community programs department website. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Mike Fusco of New Jersey Backyard Movies thanks the association for his award for "Screen on the Green." Credits: Bob Faszczewski

SUMMIT, NJ - A 2013 municipal budget totaling $42,409,294 that will bring the tax for municipal purposes on the average Summit home, assessed at $410,000, to $3,703.69 or $9.25 higher than last year was introduced on Tuesday by the city’s common council.

Included in the proposed spending plan are:

  • Increased technical support for various city hall departments;
  • Vehicle replacement and e-ticketing capability for the police department;
  • Increased facility maintenance funding and software for the fire department;
  • Increased funding for tree pruning; and
  • Additions of a part-time staff member and a department head in the department of community programming.

The public hearing on the proposed spending plan is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 at 7:30 pm

Sign Up for E-News

A resolution to allow the city to add to increase its “cap bank” for up to two years again drew a negative response from Councilman Thomas Getzendanner. The comments drew disagreement from most of his colleagues.

Under state law, according to council finance chairman Dave Bomgaars, the city, if it passes a budget under the state 2 percent “cap” limit on appropriations increases, can “bank” up to 1.5 percent beyond the cap for up to two years for use in case of unforeseen emergencies.

Getzendanner said although he appreciated the budgetary flexibility resulting from the cap bank, it was “self-indulgent” and did not fulfill the expectations of taxpayers who wanted to see greater restraints on spending.

He added if the city should encounter an emergency it could pass a temporary appropriation without encumbering the cap bank funding.

City Chief Financial Officer Scott Olsen noted, however, that is his 15 years with the city the cap bank had never been accessed. He said passing a temporary emergency appropriation would be much more difficult than tapping the cap bank if it were needed.

Councilman Patrick Hurley added the council would not be spending the money by voting on the cap bank--that would require a specific appropriation action. He pointed out that the city budget was well below the 2 percent cap for the second year in a row.

Although agreeing with Getzendanner on the need for fiscal restraint, Councilman Robert Rubino said he was glad that the cap bank mechanism was never used although it was available if needed.

The governing body also discussed a capital improvement plan for 2013 to 2018 amounting to about $10.3 million for city projects and approximately $3 million more for projects of the city’s parking and sewer utilities.

Proposed projects include:

  • $3 million for rehabilitation of the recreation center, with $600,000 of the total to come from last year’s sale of city-owned property at 2 Walnut Street;
  • $3.4 million for infrastructure improvements, portions of which may be funded by New Jersey Department of Transportation grants;
  • $2 million as the city’s share of the cost of the joint emergency dispatch center with New Providence, a portion of which has been funded by a $1.6 million federal grant;
  • $95,000 for a design and development study for a new fire headquarters;
  • $240,000 for the police department to fund updated patrol care video equipment, an upgrade to security equipment in police headquarters, portable generators for use at traffic signals during power outages and acquisition of a utility vehicle for transport of equipment;
  • A multiyear investment in computer workstation upgrades for the library;
  • For the sewer utility, a capital contribution of $937,000 to the joint meeting of which the city is a part and which operates a processing plant in Elizabeth; and 
  • For the parking utility, improvements to several surface parking lots and maintenance of the parking garages.

Getzendanner said the capital improvement proposals were not adequate because such plans should be broad outlines and not dollar specific until the actual projects come to fruition, the total does not include capital projects for the schools, and the proposals do not hit a target of $5 million or $6 million per year that would keep the city’s overall debt under control.

City Administrator Chris Cotter replied that the schools had not yet submitted their capital plans to the city and their totals would be added to the plan when they were presented.  He also noted that the city total for all the projects was, in fact, about $10 million with the additional $3 million coming from the utilities that were independent organizations and funded through usage fees.

On another matter, Donna Puzella, owner of Sweet Nothings gift shop, said the city’s current program of paid shopper parking could drive many small businesses in the central business district into extinction.

She said many customers see paid parking as a negative that was driving them to shop outside Summit.

Puzella added that shoppers, used to previously having up to two hours of free parking, were upset that they now were limited to a half hour.

“People will not get used to the new system and will not come back,” she noted.

The store owner called for the council to allow a longer amount of free parking time, restructure the rates and create a more friendly atmosphere at the lots.

Ellen Erbeck of Anspach Opticians said allowing shoppers only 10 minutes to exit lots after paying was not sufficient, signage was not clear and the new parking machines were difficult to operate, especially for the elderly.

She also asked for free parking expansion to two hours and suggested free parking with the lot gates up after 6 pm on weekdays and on Saturdays.

Laura Weber of the Papery said she had lost about 35 percent of her business since the new parking system went into effect last year.

Council President Richard Madden replied that Summit Downtown Inc. had approved of the new system before it was implemented, but he found the news that merchants were suffering from it disturbing.

He called from representatives of Summit Downtown, the parking committee and the city to discuss the complaints and report back to the council at its April 2 meeting.

Hurley, however, said the new system should be suspended immediately until an alternative was found.

Noting he had voting against the new system after 75 percent of the emails he received were against it, he called the paid parking system an added tax.

Rubino added when the new system was proposed he expressed his concern that the half hour limit would not give residents enough time to perform their “actions of daily living” in the central business district before being forced to pay for parking.

Bomgaars, however, said the city already had repaved the lot, relined parking spaces and responded to complaints from senior citizens by restoring cut-throughs to stores. He added that the current complaints could be addressed within the existing system.

While Hurley said Summit Downtown did not represent many of the merchants in the central business district, Madden said SDI was developed to represent merchants and the city should “follow the chain of command” in finding solutions.

Mayor Ellen Dickson said she believed many of the complaints were age-related and she had spoken to several people who loved the new system.

Getzendanner said, in order to keep the lots “revenue neutral,” if the city was going to increase the amount of free parking allowed it should increase the $20 fee for parking more than eight hours and do away with bulk parking discounts for employees.

Madden replied the council should solve the current problems with the system rather than creating new ones.

In another action, the council approved a settlement for Summit of the Passaic River pollution litigation that would have the city pay $95,000 so that it could get out from under the massive third-party 70-municipality suit resulting from pollution of the Passaic River in Newark.

Madden estimated without the settlements the suit tally could have run to $10 billion to $20 billion. He said the presiding judge would rule on the settlement on March 26.

Bomgaars added the city also would have to pay about 8.5 percent of the joint meeting’s cost for the settlement because it was a member community.

The council also approved the designation of the Railroad Avenue parking lot behind the Summit Post Office and the parking lot of the Gallo senior housing complex as areas in need of redevelopment.

The planning board must now come up with a redevelopment plan, which probably will include public and private interests, and present to the council for approval.

Dickson also presented certificates to the members of the Summit High School Boys' Swimming Team for winning their first state championship.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Summit

Police and Firefighters Must Manage their Own Pension Systems

March 23, 2017

The people of New Jersey need to hear the facts as to why Police and Fire labor leaders in New Jersey are pursuing a separation of the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS) from State control.

With all due respect to the current administration, and their predecessors, there has been much said that does not fit the facts and, unfortunately, little acceptance of responsibility for the current ...

Uniquely Qualified To Serve As Summit’s Next At Large Council Member

March 22, 2017

My name is David Dietze, and I seek your support to become the next At Large Common Council member.  

Many ask why I am running. As the current President of Summit’s Board of Education, a small business owner, husband, and father, I may have one of the hardest jobs in Summit.   However, it is an honor to serve the City that I love.  I am uniquely qualified.

A NJ ...

I'll Always Do What's Best for Summit

Dear Neighbor,

My name is Mike Wattick and I’m running for the Summit Common Council seat in Ward II. For the last seventeen years, my wife Pamela and I have been fortunate to call Summit home. I’m excited about the opportunity to add a fresh voice to local government. I am a Republican, but as Fiorello LaGuardia said, “There’s no Democratic or Republican way ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_4c4aadfcc462319b8245_b537e49e99263a328957_zumba

Fri, March 24, 6:15 PM

The Connection, Summit

Zumba

Arts & Entertainment Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_4aceac5cfc7b00c545a1_barre_sculpt

Sat, March 25, 9:00 AM

The Connection, Summit

Barre Sculpt

Arts & Entertainment Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_707ea1865e50af70589b_bea650c76e16cc239695_10e15bfe0bd2875757af_les_mills_bodycombat__71

Sat, March 25, 9:15 AM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Les Mills BodyCombat New Release!

Health & Wellness

Summit Fire Department Blotter

2/1/2017 at 1041 hrs. - FD responded a MORRIS AVENUE apartment complex on a report of an activated commercial fire alarm. On arrival the building was being evacuated with nothing showing. FD investigated and found the cause for the fire alarm was due to unattended cooking in the microwave oven.

2/1/2017 at 1623 hrs. - FD responded to a HOBART AVENUE residence  on a report ...

Summit Police Blotter

March 22, 2017

03/10 - Nicholas J. DiFrancesco, 19, of South Plainfield was arrested for possession of a false document as proof of identification. Mr. DiFrancesco was released with a pending court date.

03/13 - Ingrid Correal-Pineros, 28, of Summit was arrested for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. Ms. Correal-Pineros was released with a pending court date.

03/13 - Leroy E.

Register Today for the Summit Area YMCA Youth Soccer Association

March 24, 2017

Join our Spring Youth Soccer Association! Our Youth Soccer Association is the perfect place to build your child’s endurance, enhance their soccer skills and teach the importance of sportsmanship. The Youth Soccer Association of the Summit Area YMCA is a co-ed, noncompetitive youth sports program designed to teach kids age 3 – 8 years old the basics of soccer while building confidence, ...

Friends of Summit Library Offer Digital Conversion for Photos, Videos

The Friends of the Summit Free Public Library is pleased to sponsor a digital preservation fundraising event to help patrons maintain personal memories of print photos, film, videos and other media materials.

The Friends of the Summit Free Public Library has partnered with Digital Memory Media (a Division of Innovative Document Imaging LLP), a leading provider of digital imaging ...

Buying or Selling? -- Here's What You Need to Know

With 2016 in our rear view mirror, we can now see that the fall market leading up to the 2016 presidential election was a relatively quiet time for Summit real estate. Buyers were out kicking the tires but they were cautious to proceed with purchases.

In 2016, Summit had 311 residential sales as compared to 282 for 2015. The average days on market for listings that sold for 2016 was ...

Buy Bonds Now?

Investors have turned fearful of bonds and bond funds. The Federal Reserve is poised to raise rates this week for the third time in 15 months. The Fed itself and investors generally forecast least two more hikes this year. Why buy bonds now?

Bonds are the ultimate hedge on a stock portfolio. Given that stock valuations are stretched and optimism high, this is not the time to exit fixed income, ...

Ain't That Grand?

Native Daughter of Summit and Longtime Employee Takes on Elevated Role at Historic Hotel

The Grand Summit Hotel has long played host to the room accommodation needs of wedding, bar mitzvah, and other social gatherings from guests attending events at the area’s many fine catering venues.

It is no secret that a hotel is a preferred venue for large social events when considering the lodging component under the same roof, offering the guest the convenience of a good ...

The Floor Plan

There's an App for That - Cove's Digital 'Stainfighter'

Clean-Up on Aisle...!

We have all been there, spills happen and are a fact of life.

Don't distress ... You don't need a 'bat phone', signal for The Green Hornet, or check the cloak closet to see if Clark Kent is changing into his tights and cape as he morphs into his alter-ego.

When a 'Stain Emergency' occurs, the Cove Carpet One Floor ...

Jump, Jump, Jumprope for Heart, Do Your Part and Save a Heart!!!

Every February, Franklin Elementary School raises money for the Jump Rope For Heart Association! The Jump Rope For Heart program encourages kids to keep their hearts healthy and donate money to kids with heart defects.

Last year, Franklin School reached their goal of earning more than $10,000! One year later, they were rewarded with an entertaining assembly. Students came all the way from ...

Tip #3 - Instagram Updates

Instagram Story Updates: You are now able to add a location, temperature, or time to your story, as well as custom Instagram stickers and Emojis, accessed in the new sticker section in the top right corner of the story screen. In the newest update, the size of text and thickness of marker/draw tool are all adjustable via the first icon listed before the text color option. There is also ...

In Your Community

Atlantic Health System Joins American Cancer Society in Fight Against Colorectal Cancer

Atlantic Health System (AHS), a leading health care delivery network, announced today the organization’s commitment to increase colorectal cancer screening in New Jersey by joining "80 percent by 2018" - a national effort of the American Cancer Society in the fight against the disease. 

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women.

Snow Blows

There is nothing quite so blissful as a snow day.  

 

The quiet beauty of gently falling flakes swiftly accumulating on the trees and lawns and roadways preventing any sort of travel to work.   Those two magic words:  School Closure.  Knowing that all there is to do is look out the window from your warm house and watch the clean cold blanket of winter stop all ...