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TOWNSHIP OF MAHWAH
BUDGET WORK SESSION MEETING MINUTES
TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2005

The meeting was called to order at 7:32PM by Council President Richter who read the Open Public Meeting Act Statement as prescribed by law. Notice was advertised in The Record on January 28, 2005 stating this meeting would be held on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 at 7:30PM in the Senior Center, at the Municipal Offices at 475 Corporate Drive, Mahwah, New Jersey.

Notice of this meeting is posted on the Municipal Bulletin Board. The minutes of this meeting shall be available in the Municipal Clerk’s Office.

Salute to the Flag.

Present: Councilmembers Alderisio, DiGiulio (at 7:52PM), Paton, Richter and Roth
Absent: Councilmembers Calandrillo and Kelly.

Also present were the Mayor Richard J. Martel (at 8:20PM), and Deputy Municipal Clerk Mary C. Ross.

PUBLIC PORTION
On a motion by Roth, seconded by Alderisio, the meeting was open to the public at 7:34PM. All in favor. Motion carried.

Mr. Frank Russo of 22 Olney Road asked if the Budget had been decided upon and was worried about a tax increase. Richter stated Council is still working through the Budget. Mr. Russo advised Council to reduce spending and employees in order to prevent a tax increase.

Ms. Ruth Harrison of 1 Washington Lane voiced concern over the alleged 34% tax increase Council was considering. Ms. Harrison voiced displeasure over the tax increases she had experienced the last two years as a Mahwah resident and cited there was $30 million dollars in the Township Surplus Account that has seemed to disappear due to over spending. Richter stated there was never $30 million dollars in the Township Surplus Account – it was $11 million dollars. Richter stated there was 12 years in which the Township never raised taxes. Richter stated she is a Township Resident as well as the rest of the Councilmembers. All Township Residents are fortunate to be living in the 3rd lowest tax rated town in Bergen County.

Mr. Allan Kidd of 111 Miller Road stated a lot of excuses were being made for this Budget, and taxes have indeed increased over the past 12 years due to an increase in residents, business and corporate writables, and no subsequent decrease in tax. Mr. Kidd insisted more people should equal more revenue and less taxes.


Budget Work Session Meeting Minutes
March 15, 2005
Page 2

Mr. Kidd stated the Township needed to be on top of the projects in the Township that have been left unfinished and still have problems.

Mr. Kidd stressed that the Township needed to keep taxes low enough to keep our local residents local and not to force them through tax hikes to retire else where.

Mr. Albert Kidd of 851 Darlington Avenue cited unfinished or unnecessary Township Projects such as Continental Soldiers Park, the Municipal Building, the Foot Bridge at Continental Soldiers Park and the waste of not using the former Polo Field as Park Land as results of wasteful spending in the Township.

Mr. Kidd raised concern over the Police Department being over budgeted, asked if any revenue was generated through the Court, and questioned the Library Budget. Mr. Kidd stated the Township should adopt a more frugal and bare bones attitude concerning the proposed Budget. Richter stated the Court Revenue is currently $623,000.00 and the funds the Township provides to the Library are governed by the State. Mr. Kidd asked if the Library has to reimburse the Township for Township Services. Richter stated the Council is already looking into this possibility.

Doctor Charles Paolino of 62 Seminary Drive was concerned and stated the Township needed to stabilize Township salaries as a solution to avoid a tax increase.

On a motion by Roth, seconded by Alderisio, the meeting was closed to the public at 8:02PM. All in favor. Motion carried.

Department of Public Works – Capital
Mr. Stanley Spiech, Mr. Keith Hallissey, and Mr. Ed Sinclair were present.

Roth asked for a road priority list for the $300,000.00 slated for the Department of Public Works Streets and Roads Capital Request.

Paton asked to have Administration make sure projects and financing were not “over-lapping” within the various departments that may be working together on the same projects/financing.

Paton asked if the work slated to be done at Miller Road and King Street included the work to be done at Veteran’s Park. DiGiulio said no. Richter asked for Administration to clarify what the Miller-King Site Improvement Capital Request consisted of.

Alderisio raised question to whether or not the Rae Avenue Drainage Capital Request could wait until next year. Mr. Spiech said yes.


Budget Work Session Meeting Minutes
March 15, 2005
Page 3

Mr. Spiech stated the Department of Public Works Oil Water/Waste Oil System needed to be raised from $90,000.00 to $120,000.00. Council concurred.

Richter asked Mr. Spiech if the remainder of the Mayor’s Recommendations for the Department of Public Works Capital Requests were acceptable. Mr. Speich said yes.

Emergency Management Building and Grounds
Mr. Robert LaMontagne was present.

Mr. LaMontagne asked for Council to reconsider the request of $25,000.00 for the Fire Company #4 Staircase. Paton recommended honoring this request. Straw Poll Vote: Alderisio, yes; Calandrillo, absent; DiGiulio, yes; Kelly , absent; Paton, yes; Roth, yes; Richter, abstain.

Summarization of Budget with Council and Finance Subcommittee
Richter stated now that Council has had the opportunity to hear all the Departments and to review their presentations Council needed to come to a decision in order to pass the Budget in a timely fashion.

Roth briefly commented on the Proposed Budget Cuts for Council of 6 or 7 percent.

Alderisio asked for clarification on what the 6 and 7 percent proposed Budget Cuts would effect. Roth said everything except Capital.

Alderisio began to use the Police Department Budget as an example and stated that in order to put this proposed 6 or 7 percent Budget Cut into action many Township Employee’s jobs in the Police Department, as well as other departments, would have to be sacrificed and this, according to Alderisio, equated to “wholesale slaughter.” If this is the case, Alderisio stated he would not be in favor of these proposed cuts.

Roth stated it is not “wholesale slaughter.” It is a reduction by 6 or 7 percent on the 2005 Budget increase requests. Roth further commented that almost every department will still receive a modest increase over the 2004 Budget, even if the proposed 6 or 7 percent Budget Cuts are approved. Roth did caution that when the Budget is considered for cuts salary must also be included as it is a large portion of every department’s budget.

Richter stated the Township needed to be cautious and not to immediately replace employees who have retired. This will save the Township money that will help reduce taxes. Alderisio stated that once a Police Officer retires he/she is on Terminal Leave and


Budget Work Session Meeting Minutes
March 15, 2005
Page 4

will continue to collect for 6 months. Richter stated the Township needed to tighten their belts in order to save taxes for the residents.

Roth reiterated this proposed Budget Cut is a reduction by 6 or 7 percent on the 2005 Budget increase requests. Roth further commented that almost every department will still
receive a modest increase over the 2004 Budget, even if the proposed 6 or 7 percent Budget Cuts are approved.

Roth stated each and every Township position can not be considered as “tenured”. Alderisio stated overtime costs would increase greatly in all departments if jobs are cut.

DiGiulio felt cutting the Police Staff Services would cause a safety issue for the Township. DiGiulio felt proper Police coverage was important to the Township and its residents. DiGiulio stated Council agreed by Ordinance last year concerning the number of Police on the Police Department. DiGiulio stated the position should be reevaluated at the time of request or retirement.

Paton stated once a Police Officer in a high ranking position retires, the position should not be immediately filled without thinking about it first. Roth reiterated this proposed Budget Cut is a reduction by 6 or 7 percent on the 2005 Budget increase requests. Roth further commented that Department Heads need to become more efficient and creative in how they manage their Department with the amount of funds allotted to them. Roth stated it is not Council’s job to manage these departments.

DiGiulio stated as the Township grows, so does the Township employee force. DiGiulio further stated efficiency should not immediately mean employee cuts.

Alderisio stated we are talking an approximately $71.00 tax increase per year for a $350,000.00 home vs. firing Township employees. Alderisio stated he could not justify losing a significant amount of jobs over $71.00 per year.

Richter received a note from the Mayor and Administration concerning the Budget. Richter reminded Council they would be personally liable if the Budget is not passed in a timely fashion. Richter stated Council needed to pass this Budget and needed to come to a decision.

Alderisio stated the Police Department could not safely operate on the number of Police Officers that would be left after these proposed cuts.

Paton suggested moving on to the Department of Public Works. Alderisio began to make similar comparisons to Employment Losses due to the 6 or 7 percent proposed Budget Cut.
Budget Work Session Meeting Minutes
March 15, 2005
Page 5


Richter stated the meeting of Wednesday, March 16, 2005 was hereby cancelled due to the necessity to discuss the budget with all Councilmembers being present.

On a motion made by Alderisio, seconded by DiGiulio, the meeting was adjourned at
9:38PM. All in favor. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,


Kathrine G. Coletta, RMC/CMC
Municipal Clerk

KGC/mcr





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