Township Introduces $70 Million Budget with Tax Increase
Budget includes 1.5 percent tax increase
The township will see its first municipal tax increase in two years after the township council introduced a roughly $70.7 million budget for 2012-13 Tuesday night with a 1.5 percent tax increase.
West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said the hike was necessary to deal with a revenue shortfall.
"The last two years we had straight zeros, in a way, we're paying for that now," Parisi told an auditorium full of residents during last night's township council meeting.
The budget is roughly $2 million less than last year's $72 million budget.
Business administrator Jack Sayers said the projected impact on the taxpayer is an increase of $66 a year in municipal taxes per average household. The average home is assessed at roughly $340,000, he said. He calculated the municipal tax rate to be 0.916.
Of the $70.2 million budget, Sayers said $52 million would be raised by taxes, compared to $51 million last year.
Though Parisi called the tax increase "regrettable," he said the 1.5 percent spike would help mitigate "potential problems in 2013."
Parisi said the problem this year is a revenue not a spending issue as the budget cuts spending to 2008 levels.
"We had to use some reserves last year and we started with less revenue this year," Parisi said. "We did not believe it was appropriate to eliminate jobs to close that gap."
The budget, so far, does not include plans to layoff personnel but Parisi warned layoffs could loom once again next year.
"There's a very real possibility we'll have job cuts next year," he said.
In 2011, 48 employees — including eight police officers — were laid off to balance a $3.4 million deficit.
The township will host several public hearings before adopting the final budget. No dates have yet been set.