WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield’s town council introduced the 2017 municipal budget during its regular meeting Tuesday. Town Administrator Jim Gildea explained the $42,829,987 budget to the public with a detailed PowerPoint presentation that will soon become available on the town’s website, www.westfieldnj.gov.

“People always talk about taxes, how high taxes are in Westfield, and the average tax bill now is just under $17,000. That’s a lot of money,” Mayor Andy Skibitsky said. “But only 15.9 percent of that comes to the town of Westfield.”

Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan, who chairs the finance policy committee, explained that, for the third year in a row, the tax levy and tax rate are below the required two percent cap, with a 2017 proposed municipal tax rate increase of 1.43 percent. That’s $45 per average assessed home per year, Gildea explained.

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Total salaries and wages in are below 2008 levels, even as the town continues to provide more services, according to Gildea.

The 2017 budget also allows for continued enhancement to public safety staffing and other staffing, where appropriate, and includes additional costs for expected retirements and replacement hires, he said.

The budget includes funds for the continued purchase of new and replacement public works equipment, new communications equipment for public safety services, new technology for the town’s parking system and continuation of town-wide tree planting and other public space enhancements.

Mayor Skibitsky acknowledged the hard work by the finance policy committee to create the budget.

“We have a long history of very successful finance policy chair people and Jo Ann has done a phenomenal job with this budget,” Skibitsky said.

Neylan thanked her committee and town employees for their contributions.

A public hearing on the budget is planned for the April 18 meeting, which starts at 8 p.m. at the municipal building, 425 East Broad Street. The budget could be officially adopted by the town council that night.

Members of the public with questions about the budget can contact the town council by emailing Budget@WestfieldNJ.gov.