West New York officials introduce ordinance to dissolve independent parking authority

Officials want town to oversee parking instead of granting a contract to autonomous agency

The West New York Parking Authority's days as an independent contractor may very well be numbered.
The West New York Parking Authority's days as an independent contractor may very well be numbered.

At the most recent West New York Board of Commissioners meeting, officials unanimously introduced an ordinance that would dissolve the West New York Parking Authority.

Currently, the WNYPA is an entity independent of the town that receives a contract to oversee all regulatory matters related to parking and its enforcement within West New York.

If the measure passes at next month’s Board of Commissioners meeting, the town would nix that contract, and oversight of all parking matters would be absorbed by the municipality.

Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez indicated that officials are very likely to finalize that decision at next month’s meeting.

“We’ve been analyzing the parking authority for some time now,” Rodriguez said. “This is not, by any means, a knee-jerk decision. There was an audit done, and books were looked into. At the end of the day this is about maximizing efficiency, not only in the services the parking authority provides, but for the community, especially in respect to creating better parking for our residents.”

Based on how long the topic had been discussed by Rodriguez and his fellow commissioners, the introduced ordinance shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who attends meetings in town hall.

Discussions on whether the town should dissolve the WNYPA began in 2017, under Mayor Felix Roque’s administration. In the fall of 2017, town officials voted to have a financial agency conduct a study to determine if the town would see savings by absorbing the parking authority, and, in short, the answer was yes.

“The town, based upon the audited 2017 budget operations could reasonably save approximately $429,000 in operating expenses if the WNYPA was dissolved, excluding potential cost savings for insurance,” the report read, indicating that part of those yearly savings would be through eliminating administrative positions at the top.

Roque, and executive members of the WNYPA who would lose their jobs if the autonomous agency was dissolved, voiced opposition to WNYPA dissolution based on a number of concerns. No formal action on the matter had been taken for nearly two years, prior to this month.

Budget is adopted

As scheduled, officials also adopted this year’s municipal budget, which was first introduced in June.

The $85 million spending plan reduced municipal property taxes by 1.6 percent over last year. However, West New York taxpayers can expect to see a 0.46 percent property tax increase altogether, when taking into account the Board of Education budget and projected county taxes.

The Board of Education had a $152 million budget this year, with a 2 percent tax increase from last year’s budget.

The municipality plans to spend 3.5 percent more than last year. In order to spend that amount, officials established a CAP bank. State law allows municipalities to exceed the apportioned 2 percent spending increase if previous yearly spending increases were less than the two percent maximum.

This is the second year in a row that the town was able to hold overall tax increases under one percent, which is uncommon among municipalities in New Jersey.

Potential tax deal for developer

Officials also introduced an ordinance which would approve a five-year tax exemption for a development at 4901 Bergenline Ave. According to flyers marketing the project, which is on a site owned by an anonymous LLC, the development will be ten stories high and contain 97 units. The ground floor will also include retail space, and the total cost of the project is projected to be $49,000,000.

The developer, National Realty Investment Advisors, expects construction to last two years. The development, dubbed Bergenline Station Apartments, is expected to be prominently higher than surrounding buildings. The site plan includes 54 underground parking spaces.

At this point, it’s unclear if there are any PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreements being made between the town of West New York and the developer.

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