NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - The 2017 municipal budget to support municipal services, with a price tag of $8,733,665 in appropriations, and featuring a tax rate increase of 1.82 percent, was introduced on Wednesday by the North Caldwell Borough Council.
If adopted, this municipal budget would mean an increase in the tax levy for municipal purposes of $47.67 on the average borough home.
According to council finance chairman Frank Astorino, the reserve for uncollected taxes will be $368,706 and there will be $2,477,807 in anticipated revenue, excluding property taxes.
The operating budget was supported by all members of the governing body, but Councilman Arthur Rees cast the lone dissenting vote on the overall spending plan because he objected to about half of the $2,867,000 capital budget being allocated to a turf field without a vote from borough residents.
Rees said that unlike other proposed capital expenditures, the turf field would not benefit the entire borough.
Although the councilman said he would have voted for the capital budget outlay had a referendum been held, he continued his opposition to the turf field expenditure in the absence of a vote by North Caldwell residents.
Astorino replied that it had been “a busy year” in the borough, with the acquisition of Walkers Pond and improvements to all borough fields.
He added that although he was not originally in favor of the turf field, he saw many worthwhile expenditures in the capital budget revolving around the area surrounding the municipal swimming pool, Liberty Field and the tennis courts.
The finance chairman said these expenditures serve the interests of the entire town and represent what a fairly significant amount of the population wanted.
He congratulated Councilmen Robert Kessler and Joshua Raymond for their work in bringing about recreational improvements, meaning that, for the first time since his long tenure on the council, “the recreation department is getting what it was due to get.”
Council president Cynthia Santomauro thanked chief financial officer Richard Mondello and the borough department heads for taking on the tough task of preparing the budget and presenting it to the public in an easily understandable form.
She said that in difficult times it was always hard to produce a “flat” budget, but borough officials did their best to keep it as low as possible.
In two other fiscal moves, the council also voted on Wednesday to defer half of both local district and regional high school taxes.
New Jersey municipalities collect property taxes for schools within their borders, but they are not required to turn those taxes over to their respective boards of education as soon as they are collected. The communities may defer up to half of the amounts collected to help stabilize municipal tax rates.
On another budgetary matter, Kessler announced that the North Caldwell Board of Education would be holding a meeting to discuss possible improvements in borough schools on Tuesday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Grandview School.
Although Kessler did not know what was contained in the plans, he said he had heard that 80-to-100 new students were expected in borough schools due to recent residential construction in the borough and that this would have some impact on planning for school facilities.