Guttenberg introduces $12.7M budget

No state aid for town this year

Guttenberg’s Town Council introduced at a special April 13 meeting an amended $12.7 million budget to run the town. The budget covers spending from last July 1 through this coming June 30, 2009.
Guttenberg recently found out that the town will not be receiving any state aid for this year. They cut the proposed budget from $12.9 million to $12.7 million before introducing it.
The budget will be funded by $9.8 million from the tax levy. The rest is funded by money from building fees and other revenues collected by the town.
Usually the council approves the budget long before April, but Guttenberg had to wait for the state’s decision on aid. In order for their application to be considered, they had to agree to defer half of this year’s state pension payments. This measure was allowed by a recent bill meant to save towns money in this fiscally turbulent year. The annual contributions to the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) will be paid back over a 15-year period at 8.25 percent interest, starting next year.
Mayor Gerald Drasheff said he was disappointed with the state’s decision not to give the town any aid.


“The impact on the taxpayer this year is minimal.” – Gerald Drasheff

Drasheff said that the township received around $600,000 in aid from the state about six years ago, and has since has gotten declining amounts. Last year they received around $50,000.
But Guttenberg will save money this year by defering $230,000 of their pension payments.
“The impact on the taxpayer this year is minimal,” said Drasheff.
The budget will be up for public hearing and final vote at Guttenberg’s April 27 council meeting at 8 p.m.

2nd quarter taxes

Drasheff said that the second quarter tax bill will be the same, or a little less, than the last bill.
Drasheff said the town has saved surplus funds in past years in order to offset taxes in future years. He said that they have only raised taxes 2 to 3 percent each year so that there is a modest increase.
He said that Building Department revenue, a big source of funds, has been declining, and that they anticipated that last year. Part of the reason Guttenberg did not receive state aid was because they were able to anticipate the losses in revenue ahead of time, said Drasheff. The anticipated revenue from construction code fees is now $75,000 in the budget, versus $125,000 last year.
“Every little bit helps, but surely [the state] has been weaning us off of the aid,” said Drasheff. “The town is managed in a fairly responsible way.”
Drasheff also said that he feels that forcing towns to agree to defer their pensions for a year was a “gimmick that the state pulled.” He said he was tempted to not do it, since the pension payment will eventually have to be paid with interest.
Several area towns, including Secaucus, have moved to defer the payments despite having such misgivings.

Hopeful for aid apps

Drasheff said that while he felt it was wrong that Guttenberg received no state aid, he is hopeful that some of their grant applications will be heard favorably because they did not receive funding.
Currently the township is looking for grants to help with the design and construction of a recreation center that would be used dually by residents and by the Anna L. Klein School.
“We were shortchanged here,” said Drasheff. “Maybe people will wake up and realize that Guttenberg is no better off certainly than the other towns around us, and we deserve a fair share with what other towns are getting.”

Tricia Tirella may be reached at

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