It looks as though Maplewood residents will see a smaller tax increase than initially projected when the Township Committee introduced its 2015 municipal budget last week.
At the April 7 TC meeting, Mayor Vic DeLuca told residents the $39 million budget would come with a $700,000 increase, which translates to a 2.51% tax hike (roughly $92 for the average household). However, DeLuca said the township was still looking at ways to shave more off the budget, and directed Township Administrator Joseph Manning and CFO Juan Uribe to find more cuts.
“Based on the TC’s request, the Administrator and Chief Financial Officer were able to find about $180,000 in budget reserves from previous years that will be applied as revenue in the 2015 budget to keep the tax rate increase at 2 percent,” said DeLuca in an email Thursday.
The budget will have a public hearing and final vote on Tuesday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
The committee had also voted on April 7 to introduce an ordinance to establish a cap bank of up to 3.5%, which gives the township the option to go over the 2% tax increase cap if it determines it is necessary.
The proposed budget can be found on the township website.
Originally, when the committee discussed the draft budget at its March 3 meeting, Uribe reported a shortfall of $700,000, which would represent a 5.6% tax increase. Manning said then that township staff would look at additional options for finding savings or deferring payments.
DeLuca said then, and again on April 7 that such a large increase was “not acceptable to the TC.”
Several factors contributed to the higher budget this year; among them an unexpected, large 2014 bill from the state for retroactive employee pensions, and the loss of a big account in sewer fee payments. In March, Uribe said the town was looking into all possible options to bring the 2% cap into compliance, though town officials were loathe to use the banked cap to raise taxes above that.
DeLuca said at the April meeting that with the current proposed budget the township would retain two police officers for its special services squad, keep the library open seven days a week, continue shared IT services with South Orange, maintain staffing levels at the Department of Public Works and fire department, and continue its street repaving program.