WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield’s town council plans to present its proposed 2017 budget to the public during its next regular meeting on March 21.

Councilwoman Jo Ann Neylan, who chairs the finance policy committee, presented the committee’s recommended budget to the full council for the first time during Tuesday’s conference meeting.

For the third year in a row, Neylan said, 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.

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 “It does take the hard work and insight of group of talented, dedicated people to craft, shape and make the tough decisions for what I believe, and I hope that you will believe, is a very, very fiscally sound municipal budget,” Neylan said.

Town Administrator Jim Gildea pointed out that total salaries and wages are below 2008 levels, even as the town continues to provide more services. According to Gildea, retirements and successful collective bargaining negotiations have established a sustainable course for newly hired unionized employees. The 2017 budget 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 2017 municipal budget also 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.

The March 21 meeting is set for 8 p.m. at the municipal building, 425 East Broad Street.