WEST CALDWELL, NJ — A resolution officially introducing the Township of West Caldwell’s 2017 municipal budget was adopted at the mayor and council meeting Tuesday. Should the budget be adopted as written, homeowners will see a $64.92 property-tax increase.

According to Mayor Joseph Tempesta, however, the township still has the opportunity to potentially reduce the budget while it is pending for public hearing over the next four-or-five weeks.

“We’re trying to bring that down, but for essentially $5.41 a month, you will get continued commitments from this governing body to maintain our infrastructure by continuing to pave and reconstruct the streets, to do water mains and to do all of the things necessary to provide the services that the township tax payers want and deserve,” said Tempesta.

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The approximately $64.92 increase is on the average property, which is currently assessed at $437,900, according to township administrator Adam Brewer.

“Unfortunately, this year, the budget was challenged a little bit from a couple of key appropriations, which are areas where we typically have less control over than other areas—specifically health insurance, pensions and debt service,” said Brewer. “That’s where we saw a significant increase of a little over $419,000.”

The budget is currently prepared as a total general appropriation increase of a little more than $400,000, making it worth noting that the total increase is less than those three items put together, according to Brewer.

“The driving factor was the $200,000 increase in health insurance,” said Brewer. “Salary and wages are actually a reduction of $69,525 over the prior year. That’s a trend that we may not see moving forward because of a lot of newer police hires—as they move through guide, their salaries will increase.”

The capital budget was presented as a little more than $2.3 million, according to Brewer. Approximately $1.7 million of the capital budget is represented by improvement in streets, which the mayor and council committed to maintaining and upgrading.

Other improvements include equipment for emergency service responders (EMS) and upgrades to other essential infrastructure throughout the community.

“I appreciate all of the hard work and effort that Mr. Brewer and the staff did on crafting the budget,” said Tempesta. “This process starts as far back as October and Mr. Brew will work with all the department heads and all the departmental budgets— and that includes not only our current fund, or what is essentially our operating budget, but also the five-year plan for capital projects.”

Tempesta also acknowledged Chief Financial Officer Nikole Monroig and Councilman Joseph Cecere, who is the chair of finance committee, for helping to create the 2017 budget.

To read more details about the proposed budget, click HERE.