IRVINGTON, N J — The Irvington Municipal Council unanimously voted to approve the $110,389,331.30 amended version of the Calendar Year 2018 township budget at a special meeting Monday, Sept. 17.
According to the township Clerk’s Office, the vote to approve the amended budget was 5-0, with at large Councilwoman Charnette Frederic and East East Ward Councilman Paul Inman absent from the meeting.
“I didn’t make it to the meeting tonight,” confirmed Inman on Monday, Sept. 17. “I would have to follow up with the Clerk’s Office in the morning.”
At the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Inman voted against accepting the amendment added to the proposed $109,637,331.30 budget that increased the overall budget to $110,389,331.30. The vote was 6-1 in favor of accepting the amendment at that meeting.
Inman also voted against the $7,484,639.82 emergency temporary appropriation at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14, which the Vauss administration said was necessary to keep the municipal government open and running until the state finished reviewing the 2018 budget and sent it back to Irvington for final approval and adoption. Council President and North Ward Councilman David Lyons said the council approved the emergency temporary appropriation at the regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
According to the Clerk’s Office, that vote to approve the appropriation was 5-1, with West Ward Councilman Vern Cox absent from the proceedings.
“Yes, I did vote against accepting the amendment to the Calendar Year 2018 budget,” said Inman on Tuesday, Sept. 18. “I wasn’t given the information I requested.”
Inman previously said, “There will be a tax increase in this budget,” and now that the final amended version of the budget has been approved, it remains to be seen whether this is the case.
“The numbers continue to change,” said Inman on Monday, Aug. 20. “I can’t answer any questions about budget deficits until the budget is final.”
Council President and North Ward Councilman David Lyons could not be reached for comment about the budget vote by press time this week; however, prior to the vote, he said Inman was right that it would be impossible to speculate about any likely tax increases or budget deficits in the 2018 budget until after the final version was adopted.
“Therefore, I don’t know the final figures,” said Lyons on Monday, Aug. 20. “We, as well as the administration, are always looking for ways to avoid deficits. We hope to be able to adopt a budget as soon as possible, so that we can prepare for the coming year.”
Last year, Lyons was the first elected official in town to officially acknowledge that the $109,930,685.08 Calendar Year 2017 municipal budget contained a $2.4 million deficit for 2016, and a 1.5-percent tax increase. In 2016, Vauss revealed that a routine audit of the township’s financial records had uncovered a $3.25 million deficit in 2015, and $2.4 million in deficits in the 2016 and 2017 budgets.
However, Lyons said the 1.5-percent tax increase in the 2017 budget was not due to the $2.4 million deficit, in addition to the existing $3.25 million deficit. On May 1, 2017, the Vauss administration began its program of salary deferments, givebacks, layoffs and furloughs that he said were necessary to close the 2015 deficit.
“Even if we didn’t have the deficit, we were going to raise taxes. Nobody likes to see deficits. It was $3.8 (million) in 2015. We got that down to about $3.25 million,” said Lyons on Monday, July 10, 2017. “In 2016, taxes actually went down. With the 1.5-percent tax increase that we’re having now — in 2015, that would have been more. Your taxes are still lower than they were in 2016, and they’re definitely lower than they were in 2014.”
As previously reported in this newspaper, former Mayor Wayne Smith, who served in the office from 2002 to 2014, has disputed Lyons’ statement about taxes being at their lowest since 2014.