WESTFIELD, NJ — With a 7-2 vote, the Westfield Town Council adopted the 2018 municipal budget at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Municipal taxes will increase by $30 per year for the average Westfield household, according to Town Administrator Jim Gildea. At .5 percent, it will be the lowest tax rate increase in decades, he said.
“The fact that this budget delivers the lowest tax rate in decades at .51 percent, on top of an historically low county rate, is good news for Westfield taxpayers,” Mayor Shelley Brindle Brindle said during her update Tuesday night. To read the entire speech, click here.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the budget that’s being adopted tonight,” Brindle said.
Among the highlights of the budget is an expected increase revenue that does not come from property taxes and use of $4.2 million from the town’s $14.2 million surplus for strategic investments in equipment and technology to improve services and decrease costs over time, in addition to lowering the tax rate increase.
The budget allocates money for six miles of road repaving in town this year, compared to four miles last year.
Councilwoman JoAnn Neylan, who was vocally opposed to the budget since its introduction, and Councilman Frank Arena voted against the adoption.
“While over the last month we the town council have received many emails and heard many concerns and comments from residents, we have not one finance committee meeting in that time to discuss any of the concerns or comments we have received,” Neylan said.
“We were assured many times when this budget when it was introduced that it was not completed and not finalized,” Neylan said, “but in fact the budget that we introduced over a month ago is the very budget that we’re adopting tonight, without amendments.”
Arena said that his main issue was “the potential for this Green Team thing.” He spoke about a survey put out by the Green Team asking residents for input on potential environmental programs and initiatives that he feels would lead to more government spending and intrusion into citizen’s lives.
“The reason I’m voting no on the budget this evening is to say that I stopped something before it ever got started,” Arena said.
The budget allocates $5,000 to Green Team initiatives, Councilman David Contract responded. “Let’s not assume things will get out of hand in Westfield,” he said.
A slideshow presentation about the budget and the budget itself can be found on homepage the town’s website, www.westfieldnj.gov.