Dec. 4 Town Council Meeting: Large tax appeal payments, requests for $2.9 million in capital projects

Property tax judgments/settlements of more than $485,708 and $2.9 million in capital projects including $400,000 renovation of high school artificial turf soccer field and $350,000 concession stand

Significant tax appeal payments, capital projects and debt issuance headline the town council agenda this evening. Here’s the agenda and proposed legislation http://bit.ly/SCpEIl.

Successful tax appeals, either from tax court judgments or settlements, require the town to pay out at least $485,708. The agenda also includes two large commercial property tax settlements whose impact on taxes is unclear. However, the two properties have high final assessments – 141 Short Hills Road - $46.4 million and West Orange Plaza - $52.5 million – and double-digit percentage changes in assessment. These impacts appear likely to amount in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. (I’ve asked the administration for clarification.)

The administration had originally proposed a resolution authorizing it to apply to the state for approval to borrow up to $1 million to help pay for tax appeals, but that was withdrawn from the agenda.

The administration has also requested council approval for two bond ordinances. The first (Ordinance 2366-12) seeks to reallocate previous authorization and funding for $1,606,799:


-         $400,000 (reduced from $500,000 in the original ordinance) to renovate the artificial turf soccer field at the high school

-         $200,000 to light the football/track & field facility at the high school

-         $350,000 for a new concession stand at the high school

-         $200,000 for public works vehicles/equipment

-         $200,000 (increased from $150,000 in the original ordinance) for computers and software

-         $56,779.25 for “improvements to outdoor facilities”

-         $200,000 for improvements to the municipal building

This ordinance reflects previous debt issuance, so it doesn’t require adding to our debt level.

The second ordinance (2367) appears unclear on the amount of authorization and how much debt would be issued. The entire amount is to be borrowed, according to the town chief financial officer. An e-mail yesterday from the mayor puts the borrowing at $1,717,024.44 for: 

-         “various road improvements, including, but not limited to Nicholas Avenue and Mountain Avenue, and improvements to outdoor facilities …”

-         According to the mayor’s note, the funds will go to $873,824 for road resurfacing for unspecified streets, $100,000 for Nicholas Avenue, $600,000 for Mountain Avenue and $143,201 for the balance for “outdoor facilities” from the other ordinance

Both ordinances are on the agenda for first reading tonight. They would typically come up for public comment and final approval at the next council meeting, set for December 18.

Ordinarily, school capital projects requiring debt issuance are subject to voter referendum. However, state law allows for “shared services” agreements between municipal entities to share the cost and use of common facilities and equipment. In this case, “shared services” would allow the township, which can borrow without a referendum first, to do the borrowing. The town and schools would then specify which entity pays for which part of the cost. The school district and township are now operating under such agreements. The proposed projects would likely require an additional agreement.

Joe Krakoviak is a West Orange Township Councilman, since 2010. He can be reached at jkrakoviak@westorange.org.

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Adam Kraemer December 05, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Joe is right - The town and the BOE do not show fiscal restraint.
Jack Goldberg December 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
IT's restraint that is the problem it is specificity on what your tax dollars are being spent on. The more details the better!
john anthony prignano December 06, 2012 at 12:29 AM
In Michele Casalino's campaign mailing ,she wrote that she had saved $1million by reducing custodian overtime and changing busing procedures.$1 million in savings is very significant .Except there were no savings .The average increase in N.J. teacher compensation over the last 3 years was 7 %. In West Orange over the same period of time.teacher compensation rose 14% - DOUBLE the state average.Yet again,the Board cuts lower echelon jobs and compensation ONLY to make sure the teachers and administrators are well taken care of. Years ago, the teachers got a very generous contract ...and the District fired the the bus- aides. When I told a Board member she wasn't even trying to control spending ,she said ;"Yes we are! We privatized cafeteria services!" Why pay $8 an hour when you can pay $7, and why pay a teacher $100 an hour when you can pay $110. I recognized a woman walking out of a pizzeria as a well over 100k WOHS Administrator. The hair, the clothes, the make- up, the car, all high end . I went into the pizzeria .On the counter was a glass jar The sticker said " Donations for the High School Marching Band " At the Washington School, a gym teacher asked for a few hundred dollars to purchase hand weights. SORRY, no $! So she took plastic soda bottles,cut them in half, filled them with sand and sealed them with heated plastic.This is the NEW ORDER..A $350k SNACK BAR! However,if you think Joe Krakoviak is going to lead us to the promised land, you're kidding yourself. .
Adam Kraemer December 06, 2012 at 11:55 AM
The kids can play on the grass: The cameras are expensive and not that good, you can pack a snack to go the football game. Joe makes a good point this is stuf we just don't need. In West Oragne we elect a mayor five BOE members and five council members. We should have elven elected officials looking out for the taxpayers. Unfortunately I can only say that Joe K. and to certian extent Sandra M. on the BOE look out for taxpayers. The other nine elected officals are good people but they just are not truly looking out for the taxpayers and that has to change.
john anthony prignano December 06, 2012 at 04:24 PM
"The other nine elected officials are good people but they just are not truly looking out for the taxpayers....." Adam, do you see a contradiction in that statement?
Tom G. December 06, 2012 at 04:58 PM
$350k for a concession stand? Are they building a 7-11??? How long would it take to recoup that money from profits earned at the concession stand?
Gary Englert December 06, 2012 at 06:05 PM
While (not having seen the plans) I can't truly comment on the specifics of the proposed concession stand, it is a given that the Township prioritizes capital expenditure projects and it appears this one has made it to the top of the list. It is also a given that concessions provide revenues that offset the cost of the Township's/Bd of Ed's programs. My guess, too, would be that the building proposed would include restrooms which are currently lacking at the athletic complex. That said, however, it was long ago determined that the cost of maintaining grass playing fields exceeds the annualized cost of installing artificial turf, which has the firther benefit of never needing to be "rested" and taken out of use. The Township simply never had enough playing fields to rotate their use and the playing surfaces became devoid of grass, the soil hard packed and unsafe for play. Mr. Kraemer should acquire some knowledge and historical perspective before expounding on the subjects he does.
john anthony prignano December 06, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Adam Here's some examples of dear hearts and gentle people; Millburn gave the teachers 6% for 3 years .The budget was well under the cap. Millburn eliminated hazardous route courtesy busing .A parent who wants their child or children.bused has to pay $580 a year per child with a cap of $1160 no matter how many children from one family are bused More than one parent said ; " What can I do? I have to go to work, and I can't let my 6 year old walk over a mile to school. I have to pay ." For years, our P.T.A. would send a letter asking for a yes vote on the budget .the letter read in part, "If the budget is defeated; Important programs may be eliminated .Class sizes may increase. Hazardous route courtesy busing may be eliminated, and children will be forced to walk dangerous highways to get to school." Recently, in Washington Township in South Jersey, the School Board had to get a court order to force the teachers { who have been working without a contract } to stop violating their contract. Most of the violations were things which had a direct negative impact on the students - not writing college recommendations and the like.Shakedown rackets, protection rackets, blatant threats to the safety of students, and punishing children { illegally } to further your own ends .Do you consider these people good people?
Adam Kraemer December 06, 2012 at 11:03 PM
John - They are good people who make bad public policy decisions. That is why I don't vote for them.
john anthony prignano December 07, 2012 at 01:20 AM
. I attended many football games with my family at the High School. The looks of frustration, pain ,and yes,anguish on the faces of hundreds of spectators " holding it in " is seared into our collective memories . Let's say the new snack bar provides great food and service and wonderful ambiance at reasonable prices. What does any of that matter, if, when your done dining , there's no place to take a dump? There WILL be toilets at the new snack bar. Our municipal nightmare is almost over.
john anthony prignano December 07, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I think I understand. Just because people are engaging in blatant acts of coercion and intimidation to extract money from people, or they are wantonly breaking the law to punish innocent children as a means of furthering they're agenda, doesn't necessarily make them bad people.
john anthony prignano December 07, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Excerpt from Hamlet's soliloquy: "Thus conscience will make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought....."
Gary Englert December 07, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The nonsensical comments aside, do keep in mind that there are no restroom facilities specifically serving the athletic complex and none that are ADA compliant, which public facilites are requied to provide by law. The $350,000 figure given is an all encompassing best guesstimate and only when the contract is put out to bid will the true cost be determined.
john anthony prignano December 07, 2012 at 05:34 PM
The snack bar represents another example of forcing the private sector to compete against it's own tax dollars.There will be freshly baked pizza { Fortissimo's } hard and soft ice cream { Mark and Julie's } and cheesesteaks, and deli sandwiches { the Deli Guy } and fresh pastries and donuts { Dunkin Donuts }. Hey, why not some stir - fry? The hard work will continue to be done by volunteers but political allies will be paid managers and assistant,managers. A modest percentage of the NET will go to "defray some of the costs" associated with school clubs and teams and special events..It won't be much ,because you've got to pay your friends. But since the bulk of the overhead is provided by volunteers and taxpayer dollars, the free labor and government subsidies will allow the snack bar to charge considerably less than privately owned businesses. " For every dollar you spend, 1.83 cents goes toward debt service and reducing the municipal tax rate"
john anthony prignano December 07, 2012 at 11:47 PM
john anthony prignano December 08, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Today is December 7 . On December 7 ,1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy conducted a military strike against the United States naval base located at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2042 Americans were killed, and 1,282 were wounded .The U.S.S. Arizona exploded, causing 1,177 fatalities .The U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized , resulting in the deaths of 429 American servicemen . President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared it " A day that will live in infamy " The next day , December 8 , the United States declared war against the Empire of Japan.
Marcia Worth (Editor) December 08, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Yes, I do. Thank you for your comment. If there are commemorations locally, please let us know or add that information.


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