Budget adoption delayed
State approval didn’t come in time; new hearing set for May 14
by Vanessa Cruz
Reporter Staff Writer
Apr 28, 2013 | 2269 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STALLED – While Secaucus submitted its budget on time, the state has yet to approve it. Councilman Robert Constantino broke the news on Tuesday night.
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Adoption of the $47.2 million municipal budget has been delayed because the state Department of Community Affairs has been “inundated” with requests to approve municipal budgets and didn’t have the Secaucus budget approved in time for a hearing Tuesday night.

As per the state’s request, the public hearing for the budget did take place so that residents could ask questions or make suggestions. However, only council members spoke out.

The meeting to adopt the budget (or make more changes) will now be held on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber II on the second floor.

Councilman Robert Constantino said he took pride in the budget because it had virtually no impact on services. However, there were several major increases in expenses, including the Meadowlands Tax Sharing payment, up $213,000. Police pension bills increased by $68,000, the Municipal Utilities Authority increased by $100,000, and Hurricane Sandy expenses were $443,000.

Mayor Michael Gonnelli said that although Hurricane Sandy put a damper on the budget, the town stands to recoup 75 percent of hurricane related costs from the federal government, which can go towards next year’s surplus.

“This year we’re going into 2013 with $700,000 in surplus that we carried over,” said Gonnelli. “What we’re doing with that is, we’re preparing for future budgets.”
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Mayor Gonnelli said he is hopeful that by the next council meeting the budget will be adopted.
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Despite the unforeseen expenses, the budget did not have a tax increase.

“I am pleased to tell you that for the second year in a row there will be no increase to the municipal tax rate,” said Constantino. “The news is not all bad … the economy did start to turn the corner and we saw our ratable base [the value of taxpaying properties] increase by $32 million.”

Some of the increased revenues over last year are $200,000 more in hotel taxes and $125,000 in parking taxes. Negotiating new healthcare coverage with employees in the middle of last year reduced insurance costs by nearly $525,000.

“We’re thankful that our employees worked with us,” said Gonnelli.

Constantino said that the administration continues to work to address the inequities of Meadowlands District funding that results in Secaucus taxpayers being forced to send almost $3 million to other Meadowlands municipalities each year.

“We will continue to work to put an end to the current unfair tax sharing formula,” he said.

More on the agenda

Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, followed by Walter’s Construction of Secaucus giving the Fire Department a donation of $1,000.

A $500 check was presented by Don Evanson from recent town charity events for the Sandy Emergency Fund to benefit displaced families.

A contract was awarded for the rehabilitation of Buchmuller Park to JC Landscaping Corporation at a cost of $1,048,698.

A bond ordinance was introduced for various capital improvements appropriating $636,000 and authorizing $605,710 bonds.

An ordinance was passed instituting a parking time limit on Centre Avenue South, directly in front of 315 Centre Ave., from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for 15 minutes.

Lowest bidder English Paving was awarded a contract for the improvements to First Street in the amount of $35,987.

Jane Kelly was appointed to the Secaucus Social Services Department for $10 hourly effective April 22.

Catherine Carabott was appointed as the instructor for gardening classes in the Senior Center and Community Gardens effective April 8 with a salary of $40 per session.

Biff Duncan Associates, Inc. was awarded a professional service contract for information technology consultation at an hourly rate of $135, not to exceed $17,000.

Vanessa Cruz can be reached at vcruz@hudsonreporter.com

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