Tax bills on hold Guttenberg waits for state aid numbers

At Guttenberg’s Town Council meeting on Monday, July 28, Councilman Gerald Drasheff explained why there was a delay in sending out quarterly tax bills.

He said the town has not been able to complete its 2008-2009 budget because they do not know if they will receive extraordinary aid from the state.

Guttenberg runs on a fiscal year budget, which means its spending plan will run from this past July 1, 2008 through next June 30, 2009. Drasheff said that the state is late in announcing its aid awards because it is still reviewing aid applications from towns that follow a calendar year (Jan. 1, 2008 – Dec. 30, 2008). Some of those towns are late in introducing their budgets.

But Drasheff said that he hoped the tax bills, as well as numbers surrounding the new budget, will be available by the next council meeting Aug. 25.

“We hope [tax bills] go out next week so that we start to bring in some revenue,” said Drasheff. “We have enough money in the bank to cover tonight’s business and to cover next month’s business, but at that point we’re out of cash.”

Drasheff said that the net tax raise for next year’s fiscal budget should be around 4 to 4.5 percent.

“[Any loss of aid] probably won’t affect us that much, because they’ve been cutting us back gradually over the years,” said Drasheff.

The town budget makes up only one component of a resident’s tax bill. The rest of the bill comes from county and school taxes, which are determined by separate budgets.

Public streets closed before, after school

Public Safety Director Michael Caliguiro told the council during the caucus meeting that the streets surrounding the Anna L. Klein Elementary School should be closed before and after each school day.

In the past, residents of those streets were allowed to drive out of and into their property, but Caliguiro said that he deems it a child’s safety issue and cars should stay off those roads.

This fall, the streets may be closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 8:20 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

The police, along with school administrators, will discuss the proposed change at a meeting this coming week.

Obama drive during concert?

Also at the meeting, two residents of Guttenberg expressed concerns about the town’s first free outdoor summer concert, headlined by the Duprees.

Anne Smith said she was worried that traffic wouldn’t be controlled. She said that traffic officers were not present on Safe Kids Day, a situation that she called a “disaster.”

Lt. Joel Magenheimer said that traffic controllers would be present on each corner during the event, which was held this past Wednesday.

Hernando Alvarado asked if it would be acceptable for him to conduct a Barack Obama voter registration drive during the concert.

Debbie Magenheimer, one of the concert committee members, said that she did not want the parade to become political.

Mayor James Hannon also asked for the concert to remain bias-free, stating that the concert was for the “joy” of residents.

“I’m not saying you can’t do it, but I’m requesting that you not do it,” said Hannon. Town Attorney Charles Daglian said that Alvarado should speak with county Democratic Chairman Jerramiah Healy on this matter. But Alvarado said Healy, who also serves as mayor of Jersey City, had not returned his letters.

“The mayor and council can’t give you and advisory opinion on what legal issues may or may not arise on the day you choose to do your voter registration, where you choose to do it, and how you choose to do it,” said Daglian. “The Police Department will decide whether what you’re doing is illegal or legal.”

Saving money on grants

Also at the meeting, the Guttenberg Town Council approved Millennium Strategies’ $36,000 grant-writing contract.

The contract, which will end on July 30, 2009, will save the town $14,000 in comparison to their previous contract with Bruno Associates, since Bruno Associates’ proposed contract was for $50,000.

“[The new firm] will save us some money,” said Councilwoman Adela Martinez. The council hopes that the new grant-writing firm will improve their leverage in receiving aid for the municipality.

Grant revenue and application approved

The council approved $12,941 from the Municipal Alliance grant program for the rest of 2008, which provides trips for children in Guttenberg, including baseball trips and other events.

The council also approved an application for this same grant for the 2009 calendar year.

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