Taxes in West New York will decrease in the fourth quarter, according to the West New York Business Administrator Joseph McConnell.
A resolution outlining a $73.1 million proposed budget, which is about $4 million more than the budget introduced last fall, for fiscal year 2008-2009 was introduced at a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Monday, March 30.
The board will hold a meeting to approve the budget on Wednesday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Court Chambers, at 428 60th St. Residents can come speak out before the vote.
The budget increase will not have to be funded by West New York taxpayers, since the additional funds will be covered by state and federal aid.
“Most of that is from new grants going into the budget that weren’t reflected in the original proposed budget,” said McConnell. For example, the town recently received $119,000 in a Justice Administration Grant from the federal government to help pay for police overtime and equipment.
Though the overall budget is increasing, the tax levy, which is the amount that West New York taxpayers will contribute to the budget, is actually decreasing by about $2.7 million. Thus, tax rates in the fourth quarter will be less than in the third. Tax bills will be mailed out in May.
“We are moving forward,” said Mayor Sal Vega. “We are keeping our promise to make West New York financially sound and to get all the assistance we can possibly get.”
The decrease in the tax levy was partly due to a resolution passed to defer the town’s employee pension payments to the state for one year. This will save $1.4 million in the current budget. However, the town will have to resume payments next year, without interest.
The resolution was allowed because the state recently passed legislation authorizing cities to defer pension payments for a year if they needed to.
“We had to [do this] given our precarious financial situation,” said McConnell. He added that the plan will not affect anyone’s pension or benefits.
McConnell also said that with the impending layoffs of town employees, taxes are expected to decrease even more with the 2010-2011 budget.
“I think that if everything goes right, we will be in much more sound financial footing,” said McConnell.
West New York also recently received an additional $2 million in aid from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs through its Extraordinary Aid program, meant to help municipalities that otherwise may have had to suspend essential services due to financial restraints.
McConnell said that these funds have been incorporated into the overall budget.
At their meeting last week, the West New York commissioners also moved to ask the state to help supervise the town’s finances. The town suspended their chief financial officer last year.
The commissioners passed a resolution approving the town’s application to the Superior Court of New Jersey for state supervision.
On Wednesday, the state’s Local Finance Board approved the town’s petition for a state monitor.
“We had the ability to convince the state to bring in a monitor who I welcome, and I think it will show the citizens of West New York that we will continue and do everything in a way that is transparent,” said Mayor Sal Vega. He added that the monitor will supervise contracts, bonding, and purchasing matters.
McConnell also said that the measure will allow the town to adopt their budget legally, as the budget increase has exceeded state guidelines.
“We would not be allowed to raise the taxes that much without their help,” said McConnell.
He said that the town is also now able to send out the fourth quarter tax bills in order to have a steady cash flow without having to borrow money. – AS
Amanda Staab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.