Township Committee passes $41.88 million budget 5-0

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — At its April 19 meeting, the Maplewood Township Committee adopted a $41.88 million municipal budget for 2016. This budget includes $568,115 more than the 2015 budget, which has manifested in a 1.96-percent tax increase.

The committee voted unanimously to pass the $41,881,775 budget, which will result in a tax increase of $81.98 for the average homeowner in Maplewood.

The budget approved April 19 is slightly different from the municipal budget introduced March 15, as that budget proposal came in at $41.5 million. According to Resolution No. 93-16, which was passed unanimously to allow the budget to be amended, the budget increases were incurred to pay for operations and capital improvements. Specifically, some increases can be attributed to an additional $20,000 budgeted for legal expenses, an additional $40,000 to help pay for a police resource officer at Columbia.

According to Mayor Vic DeLuca at the March 15 meeting, cost drivers included a 2-percent salary increase for public employees — committee members received a 2-percent increase in their stipends also, giving them $80 more each year; a 14-percent increase in group health insurance premiums; and an 8-percent increase in bond principal payment. Additionally, Maplewood saw a decrease in taxable properties, but an increase in ratables.

DeLuca also assured on March 15 that, with this budget, the township will maintain the two police officer positions added in 2015, and will add two firefighters. In addition, the township has been making improvements at The Woodland; installed new windows at the Hilton Branch library; approved the purchase of 45 body cameras for Maplewood police officers; and engaged in various road and sewer improvement projects.

At the April 19 meeting, the committee also passed a bond ordinance on second reading to provide funding for various capital improvements in Maplewood. Ordinance No. 2808-16, which was passed 5-0, authorizes the issuance of a bond for $2,974,222. These funds will be used partially to pay for various improvements for environmentalism, municipal roads and curbs, the Safe Street to School project, The Woodland, repaving Parker Avenue, and municipal lots. They will also be used for the acquisition of a backup ambulance and a fire engine for the Maplewood Fire Department, and a UCS blade server and dispatch console for the body cameras for the Maplewood Police Department. The Department of Public Works will be receiving a jitney bus, a scanner, an electrical box, an asphalt heater, a fuel management system and a wheel loader. Administration will received IT equipment and the Maplewood Memorial Library will gain computer equipment, money to support the library’s affiliation with the Bergen County Community Library System, building improvements to the Hilton Library and architectural services for a conceptual design of a new library. The Township Committee room will also acquire new microphones.

Some of these projects will be funded in part by grants.

The Maplewood Township Committee also voted 5-0 to pass Ordinance No. 2812-16 on first reading to appropriate $411,000 to fund the reassessment, which will happen jointly with South Orange and will be conducted by Appraisal Systems Inc. of Whippany.

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