Maplewood Mayor: ‘Hard Decisions We Made During Pandemic Are Reaping Benefits’


Maplewood Mayor Nancy Adams forecasts a better budget cycle for 2024, reporting that revenues have rebounded post-COVID pandemic.

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“The hard decisions we made during the pandemic are starting to reap dividends in 2024,” reported Mayor Nancy Adams at the first of two municipal budget hearings on January 31. (A second budget hearing was held on February 27. Watch both below.)

“According to our CFO [Joseph Kolodjiez], a majority of our miscellaneous revenues have rebounded to their pre-pandemic levels,” reported Adams. During the pandemic, Maplewood — like many local governments — suffered from a loss of revenues from areas like parking enforcement, construction & permitting fees, and sports & recreation fees.

Adams said that the township’s debt service had increased with the construction bond for the Baker Street library but noted, “When we receive our grant payments, we will also see significant relief in that obligation.” Maplewood is the beneficiary of an $8M grant from the state of New Jersey for its $20M+ library renovation.

“We still have much work ahead of us and our discussions regarding capital projects will be a driving factor in the 2024 budget,” added Adams. “CFO Joe reports that we are in the best shape financially that we have been since he started here in 2018.”

Maplewood is looking to get its budget process on track this year, after adopting the last two budgets “embarrassingly late.” Former Mayor Dean Dafis and Kolodziej blamed the tardiness of the 2023 budget in large part on former township administrator Jerry Giaimis, who resigned in 2022, sued the township, and later entered into mediation.

The 2023 budget — adopted last September — totaled $53.5 million and included a 3.4% tax levy for Maplewood residents. In 2022, Maplewood passed a budget with a 5.4% tax hike.  In 2021, the Township Committee approved a municipal tax increase of 6.68% to support the budget.

The 2024 Maplewood municipal budget will be the first full budget process under the guidance of new Township Administrator Patrick Wherry.

Elsewhere, South Orange held a municipal budget meeting with departmental presentations on January 20; Village Administrator Julie Doran reports that she hopes to present the 2024 budget to South Orange Village Trustees at their  March 11 meeting. Last year, South Orange approved a budget with the township’s highest tax hike in over a decade — 5.69%.

Meanwhile, the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education will have a budget presentation on March 14.

Maplewood January 31, 2024 Budget Hearing:

Maplewood Township February 27, 2024 Budget Hearing:

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