WO may see taxes increase by 2 percent

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Township Council introduced the 2018 municipal budget at its April 10 meeting, proposing a total budget of $83,209,749 for the year.

Nearly 64 percent of the operating budget will come from property taxes; the town will collect $52,982,824.98 in taxes — a nearly 2-percent increase, according to business administrator Jack Sayers in an email to the West Orange Chronicle on April 16. There is a state-mandated 2-percent cap on tax increases. According to Sayers, this increase will result in the average property owner paying an additional $68 in taxes in 2018.

Councilman Joe Krakoviak expressed his frustration with the tax increase in an email to the Chronicle on April 17.

“The mayor and council majority are proposing the fourth straight year of the maximum 2-percent annual increase in the tax levy of $1.1 million — on top of a 2.9-percent tax rate increase in 2017,” he said. “Appropriations are proposed to increase 4.4 percent, or $3.5 million. I believe this is too heavy of a burden on taxpayers and could be alleviated with prudent financial decisions.”

The budget accounts for an anticipated surplus of $3,262,227.48, an increase from the 2017 surplus of $3,022,376.78. The town will also take in $9,650,368.53 in local revenue, with the majority of that figure coming from sewer user charges at $7,225,389.92. Interest and cost on taxes will bring West Orange $787,097.48, while municipal court will collect $581,817.44 in fines and costs.

West Orange has budgeted $13,025,033.30 for the police department in 2018, with $12,540,188 for salaries and wages and $484,845.31 for other expenses. The fire department has an operating budget of $10,057,689, with $9,924,889 set aside for salaries and wages and $132,800 for other expenses. West Orange Emergency Management Services will spend $5,445 on salaries and wages and $10,800 on other expenses.

As part of the capital budget, $37,800,000 will be spent on streets and sewers, with $261,713.13 being paid with the capital improvement fund and $5,234,262.50 coming from debt authorized budget. Outdoor facilities will receive $2,861,000, with $29,022.50 coming from the capital improvement fund; $580,450 for the outdoor facilities is debt authorized.

The total municipal debt service for 2018 is $7,338,977.72, a decrease from the 2017 debt service of $7,510,454.82. The total overall budget is a $3,502,429 increase from the total budget for 2017, which was $79,707,320. West Orange Chief Financial Officer John Gross did not respond to a request for comment on the budget.