CALDWELL, NJ - The 2013 budget was introduced at the May 7 Caldwell town council meeting and it spurred more than an hour of discussions about various line items. 

Borough Administrator Paul M. Carelli explained that the budget increased the cost of living cap from two percent to three and a half percent. He said that this “is protection” and an insurance policy to prepare for emergencies throughout the year. 

Council President Richard Hauser said he sent Carelli more than 60 questions about the 2013 budget, and that he already got a number of responses, but there were still a number of items he still did not understand and others that he feels strongly about. Of note, he was particularly interested in a $25,000 capital improvement for shared senior transportation services. 

The current budget as written represents a 1.4 percent increase over the 2012 budget, resulting in about a $42 increase for each homeowner; but Hauser expressed that there are many line items that could be modified to reduce this figure even further. After going over more than 10 line items individually, Hauser expressed that he felt there are many budgeted items that have extra money allocated for contingencies, and this money can be put to better use or not used at all to reduce the increase in taxes. 

Carelli explained that all of the increments throughout the year could be moved. “All of these little increments, throughout the year you can move so if you fall short on one you can charge it to another,” he explained. 

“We just need to be prepared sometimes for unforeseen things,” Carelli continued. “And I get it Rich, I understand what you are saying, but it is $2,000 here and $3,000 there, but again, in the overall picture of a $5 million budget, two or three thousand doesn’t really make a difference.” 

The public hearing and adoption of the budget will take place on June 18. 

The next meeting of the Caldwell council will be on Tuesday, May 21 at 7pm.