North Bergen introduces 2021 budget

A hearing on the budget will take place at the May 26 Board of Commissioners meeting

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners met via Zoom on April 14.
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The North Bergen Board of Commissioners met via Zoom on April 14.

North Bergen has introduced its budget for 2021. The Board of Commissioners officially introduced the budget at its April 14 meeting.

Township Administrator Chris Pianese gave a brief breakdown of the introduced budget. He said there will be a detailed presentation of the budget at the hearing. 

Pianese said that, for the first time, the township’s budget has exceeded the $100 million mark. The budget saw an increase in $450,000 from last year. This is less than half of one percent in a total increase in the budget. The resulting tax impact of that is 1.9 percent local increase, approximately $73 per household. 

Pianese said that this budget uses less surplus, which he said is “always good.” In total, the budget uses $500,000 less in surplus than in the previous budget. The township ended 2020 with the same amount of surplus as it started the year with. 

Revenue enhancements 

A number of new revenues have allowed the township to keep the tax rate down. According to Pianese, one of the “revenue enhancements” is from a settlement with Palisades Medical Center. This is the second year in which the township is receiving $600,000 in revenue from the hospital. 

Another new revenue source is from Spectrum Hotel. Pianese said the township is anticipating a tax of $476,000 from the hotel for the year. 

Pianese added that the 67th Street project on Kennedy Boulevard is now coming online, resulting in the township collecting $200,000 in taxes. 

According to Pianese, the township was able to keep the budget reasonable and the tax rate down because it had a great year when it came to health benefits. Claims were way down, and the township was able to reserve over $2,000,000 in its insurance fund. Pianese said this allowed the township to lower the health benefits budget for the first time, by $1,200,000. 

Pianese said that the claims could be artificially low because of less usage due to COVID-19 and everybody being at home. He hopes that he can sustain that level of claims throughout the next six months. 

Other budget items

The debt service, which is $66,700,000, is flat compared to last year’s debt, according to Pianese. He said that meant that the debt has not gone up at all. 

Pianese said that the first portion of the payment for the property tax revaluation is included in this budget, totaling $180,000. The township will pay that every year for five years. 

“Considering COVID and everything that came with it, we’re in decent shape,” Pianese said. “It’s a solid budget.” 

The budget hearing will be held via Zoom at the May 26 Board of Commissioners meeting on May 26 at 5 p.m. To attend, go to northbergen.org and click on the event on the calendar webpage.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.