WESTFIELD, NJ — The average Westfield household will pay just under one dollar per week more than last year toward the municipal budget in 2015, according to Town Administrator Jim Gildea, who gave a presentation of the proposed budget at the town council’s March 24 meeting. The council later resolved to approve it.
Westfield’s new budget keeps the tax increase at less than the required two percent cap, Gildea said. Just 17 percent of the taxes collected by the town actually go toward the municipal budget, compared to more than 23 percent toward Union County and more than 58 percent toward the school district.
Councilman Sam Della Fera, chairman of the finance policy committee, said that the members of the council who worked on the budget talked about spending tax dollars very carefully.
“We’re also tax payers,” Della Fera said.
The proposed 2015 budget includes funds to enhance public safety, improve roads, plant trees and enhance the town’s website, according to Della Fera. Meanwhile, less than two percent will go toward salary increases. (And while councils in other towns argue over their own pay increases, Westfield’s town council and mayor are unpaid volunteers, Mayor Andy Skibitsky noted.)
A public hearing on the budget will take place at the April 28 town council meeting. Meanwhile, residents can email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Mayor Skibitsky announced that residents can also make an appointment to meet with him during his Saturday office hours.
Tuesday night’s presentation, as well as the entire budget, will be available soon at the town’s website, www.westfieldnj.gov, according to Skibitsky.
The council also resolved to approve the budget for the Special Improvement District, which remains flat for the third year in a row. Della Fera thanked Downtown Westfield Corporation Executive Director Sherry Cronin and the directors of the board for being sensitive to residents and owners when creating that budget.
Also during the meeting, the council passed resolutions authorizing the mayor to sign collective bargaining agreements between the town of Westfield and the Police Benevolent Association, Local 90.