FAIRFIELD, NJ — Monday night, at the first live and in person council meeting since the Covid-19 cancellations in March, Fairfield Township Mayor James Gasparini announced the municipal portion of the 2020 property tax bill, on an average Fairfield home of approximately $550,000, will go up $99, but because of a decrease in the county and school taxes, the total bill will decrease by $28.
Gasparini said, “During the last three years, the municipal portion of the property tax bill either had no increase or a decrease in the municipal portion of the property tax bill, but this year, due to Covid-19, there is an increase.”
The mayor stated, “In order to keep the increase at this level, we infused an additional $250,000 of our surplus, bringing the total amount of surplus used to $2,950,000.”
Gasparini wanted to make clear to the residents that the Fairfield tax rate remains as one of the lowest in Essex County because of the amount of money contributed to the budget from local businesses.
“Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we experienced huge deficiencies in some revenue sources. Our municipal court revenue is down $218,000 due to the police focus on Covid-19 issues, as well as the inability for the courts to operate. Our hotel occupancy tax revenue is down $411,000 due to hotel closings and reduced capacities. The interest on investments and deposits is down $126,000, as well as the interest and costs on taxes being down $70,000. We also saw an increase in our contribution to the library of $43,000. If it weren't for the infusion of approximately $300,000 in fees contributed by new construction, we would have had to pass a much larger municipal tax increase,” reported the mayor.
Although Covid-19 had an impact on Fairfield, the mayor explained that no municipal services were cut or decreased, and there was no need to cut or furlough any municipal jobs. The township operated as normal. Gasparini said, “We will continue to provide our residents with the quality services they expect and are entitled to.”
The public hearing and second reading of the 2020 municipal budget will take place in the council chamber at the next council meeting on Monday, Aug. 24 at 7:00 p.m.
As a surprise to the mayor and council, Councilman Thomas Morgan announced his resignation after 32 years on the council. Everyone on the governing body spoke highly of Morgan and wished him well. “Through his service, Morgan helped shape our community,” stated the mayor. Morgan said that he started out when Fairfield was a one traffic light town and had no sewers.
According to the mayor, the Republican committee will get together to appoint someone to fill Morgan’s unfinished term.
It was announced that stream and ditch clearings still are going on in an attempt to de-snag the Passaic River. Since the weather has been dry, the country is helping Fairfield to get the fallen trees out of the river.
Fairfield received a $150,000 grant that will be used for the next phase of park renovations.