Slicing the school budget Commissioners carve $1.25M off rejected budget; custodian honored for artwork

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners, just one day after gaining re-election in unison, adopted a resolution Wednesday that called for a reduction of $1.25 million from the original $38.8 million budget that was defeated in a Board of Education election last month.

When the school board budget was soundly voted down April 17 for the 23rd consecutive year, the budget was then turned over to the Board of Commissioners for modifications and changes.

Under the guidance of Township Administrator Chris Pianese, the commissioners went over every line item with a fine-tooth comb and came up with the cuts that they say won’t have an effect on the programs that the school district has to offer.

The cuts will come from regular program expenses ($281,000), plant operation costs ($56,000), educational media services ($53,400), school-sponsored athletics ($50,000) and student transportation ($50,000). Also, some capital facility improvements that were scheduled to be made in the upcoming school year have been tabled until the state Department of Education funding issue is settled by Gov. Jon Corzine.

“We feel that the Board of Education will be able to operate with these suggested cuts,” Pianese said. “We’ve eliminated some of the frills and made it a very stable budget. It’s an accumulation of cuts throughout so we can keep the tax rate below the rate of inflation.”

“Some of the capital programs will have to wait,” said North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, who also serves as the Assistant Superintendent for the Board of Education. “Until we can get a more stable foundation, we have to wait. We know what we have to do.”

The new 2007-08 school budget now stands at $37,591,021.

Custodian wins in senior art show

In other news from the commissioners’ meeting, the township honored Town Hall custodian Robert Sundholm for winning first place in two categories in the recent Hudson County Senior Resident Art Show.

Sundholm, who has worked at Town Hall for the last seven years, won first place in photography for his shot of a New York woman, entitled “Colorful Lady,” and took first place honors for his watercolor work of a painting of the lake inside North Hudson Braddock Park, entitled “Peaceful Lake.”

“I was always drawing and taking pictures, but I gave it up for a while,” said Sundholm, who lives in a senior co-op on Bergenline Avenue. “About two years ago, I started again, after someone gave me some crayon pencils and then I bought a camera. After I come home from work, I work on my drawings and taking pictures. I work on my photography every weekend. I was extremely happy, surprised, and shocked that I won and I was very pleased that Mayor Sacco chose to honor me, because I work here. It was really very charming.”

Sacco was happy to be able to present Sundholm with the special plaque of appreciation.

“Robert is very talented,” Sacco said. “He was able to show his talents and we’re very proud to see he won awards. It’s time for us to show how much we appreciate his hard work. What he does is very worthwhile. I’m proud to see him here every day and see that he’s become successful at his art.”

Sundholm had a key to his success.

“When you believe you can do something, you can do anything and you will be rewarded,” Sundholm said.

Other news

In other news, the township passed a resolution that called for the town to receive a grant of nearly $50,000 from the State of New Jersey’s Clean Community Account and an additional $20,000 from the state Department of Law and Public Safety for Pedestrian Safety Education and Enforcement.

The commissioners also approved the payment of $5.589 million in assorted bills to contractors and vendors.

The township approved a special contract of $127,000 to En-Tech Corporation of Closter for the emergency services it provided during the recent flooding that took place at the five-corner intersection at 43rd Street.

The commissioners also passed a resolution that calls for $487,000 of Urban Enterprise Zone funds to be earmarked for the closed-circuit television public security system.

An ordinance was introduced to place a stop sign at the intersection of 88th Street and Durham Avenue, facing northbound traffic. The intersection has been officially deemed as a traffic hazard, giving the township engineer authority to erect a stop sign, provided the ordinance passes at the next scheduled meeting on May 23 at 11 a.m.

The Board of Commissioners officially adopted the ordinance that calls for Grand Avenue to become a one-way street northbound between 84th and 88th Streets.

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either or


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