Maplewood TC Moves To Stretch Out Budget Deficits to Counteract Losses from Pandemic

by Jenna Sundel
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From the Township of Maplewood:

The Township Committee unanimously passed a measure on Tuesday to investigate stretching out budget deficits over a five-year payment period.

There are still more steps in the process before the new payment period can be implemented, including gaining state approval.

Certified Municipal Financial Officer Joe Kolodziej suggested the measure during his Budget Report. It would allow Maplewood to classify deficits as a special emergency, giving them five years to pay it off rather than one.

Kolodziej used the Maplewood Community Pool as an example of a service with a large deficit. The Maplewood Community Pool is facing a deficit of over $470,000. Other deficits they will be looking at include the Municipal Court, Jitney Service, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs.

“I would strongly recommend at the very least that we do the pool utility, but why stop there?” Kolodziej said.

Kolodziej also suggested a budget resolution that does not require state approval to enact. This is the ability to base annual budgets off of a three-year average. Budgets are typically a reflection of the amount of revenue made in the previous year, but some township services are facing financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a three-year average would benefit these services by giving them more money to work with in 2021.

The Maplewood Pool only took in around $293,000 this year, so that becomes the 2021 budget if the Township Committee decides not to use the three year average. A three year average would increase the budget to over $857,000.

Committeeman Victor De Luca said that it’s hard to predict what the  2021 budgets will look like, so any recommendations should be considered.

“We don’t know what the budget’s going to look like in 2021, how much of COVID is going to spill over into that budget year, and [so] as many options as we can put on the table I think would be to our benefit,” De Luca said.

The next Township Committee Meeting is on Nov. 4 at 7:30 pm.

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