Articles Archive for April 2010
While the people of Englewood voted for a revision of the proposed school budget, I want to thank the School Board members and Superintendent Segall for their tremendous effort in the face of a short deadline and the removal of state aid imposed by Governor Christie.
We now have the opportunity to re-visit our budget priorities and re-work the budget in a way that builds citizen confidence. It can be done! As your Mayor, it is my goal to find the common ground that does right by our deserving students and honor to our hardworking taxpayers.
What’s next is clearly defined by New Jersey State Law and the NJ Department of Education. The process promotes absolute transparency so each of us can be informed and participate. I urge every citizen to be engaged in the process. Click here to view an excellent presentation prepared by the New Jersey Department of Education that walks you through the budget process.
Between now and May 19th there is a consultation period with the Board of Education, the school district administration, the City Council and me – all under the guidance of the County Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Graham.
By April 28th, the Board of Education will prepare what is called the “defeated budget information package” along with a letter of transmittal to the Mayor and City Council. The defeated budget package includes:
- The Proposed Budget for 10-11
- Salary schedules for all employees (09-10 & 10-11)
- Pupil enrollment by grade as of 6/30/09, 10/15/09 & projected for 2010-11
- The number of schools & classrooms, including pupil capacity in each classroom
- Detailed tuition analysis
- Analysis of professional & nonprofessional staff, 2009-10 & projected for 2010-11 (including a list of retirees).
- Proposed capital projects and/or deposits into capital reserve
- Copies of BOE’s most recent annual report, annual audit, comparative spending guide, and report card
- Any other information deemed appropriate by Executive County Superintendent for a specific BOE
This material will be carefully reviewed by the Mayor and City Council. The City Council will then set the amount of taxes to be levied in order to accomplish the Budget.The School administration and the School Board will be able appeal certain aspects of the Council’s decision to the NJ Department of Education, if they so choose. To make this less likely, I recommend that the City Council form a sub-committee with Council Members and the Mayor and the Board of Education also create a sub-committee to work together, collaborating to deliver a budget that can be endorsed by both the City and the Board of Education.
I look forward to helping facilitate a process that will lead to a sound and equitable final budget that will be a win-win for our schools, for our students and for all our citizens.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
By now, we’ve all heard the outcome of yesterday’s school board election and the defeat of the 2010-2011 school budget.
Before I comment on it, I first would like to thank all of the candidates who ran for School Board during one of the most difficult fiscal environments in years. Volunteering for public service, doing the hard work of campaigning to get your message across to our citizens at a time of great uncertainty is something for which each candidate should be commended.
I would also like to deeply thank our incumbents for their service over this past term of office on the School Board. I would especially like to single out Joan Meltzer, whose years of service in the support of our students and schools have been extraordinary. We all owe her a tremendous debt and a great deal of gratitude.
Before the budget vote, I had stated in an open letter to the City that as your Mayor — and as an experienced business attorney and Certified Public Accountant – it was both my professional and civic duty to advise Englewood citizens to vote no on the budget and return it back to the City for reformulation to get it right.
Today, I am grateful that the majority of this week’s voters determined the same thing.
I want to assure every resident, every student and every taxpayer in the City of Englewood that this can be a win-win for everyone. The defeat of this budget will not harm our students. Nor will it mean larger class sizes, fewer teachers and fewer resources. It does mean that we have an opportunity to take a careful look at our budget priorities, how we plan for them and what we can accomplish effectively and efficiently throughout this difficult budget year.
I am absolutely committed to the excellence of our schools. I will not rest until we do whatever is necessary to allow us to accomplish a budget for 2010-2011 that focuses on directly benefiting our students. Now is the time for all of us to come together to accomplish this goal.
We will move forward together, going through the next steps in a process clearly defined by state law and the rules and regulations of the NJ Department of Education. I will share with you all the details of this process shortly, so please check back at EnglewoodOne.com.
Again, congratulations to the newly elected board members and heartfelt thanks to those who did not prevail. It is the vigor and commitment of citizens who step up and volunteer to serve their community that renews my belief in Englewood and its greatness.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 20th is a very important election day for our City. You will be asked to vote on the proposed school budget for the coming year and, as well, vote for school board members. As your Mayor — and an experienced business attorney and Certified Public Accountant — I’ve looked at the information presented and the options available. It’s both my professional and civic duty to advise Englewood citizens to vote NO on the budget and return the budget back to the City for reformulation and to get it right. Furthermore, I will be voting for Stephen Brown and Glenn Garrison — the only two incumbent Board Members who had the good judgment to vote no on the Budget — and Enrique Diaz, their running mate.
Why I am Voting no on the Budget?
The School Budget as approved by the Board contains an increase in the school tax levy of 4.82% over last year’s budget. An increase of this size is certainly troubling; however, what is more troubling is the “process” that led to the formulation of this budget. The budget provided to the public on the eve of the public hearings provided limited details of the $63 million budget. I’ve learned a couple of valuable lessons about information and decision making:
1) Inadequate information leads to bad decisions.
2) Imaginary obstacles are insurmountable and real ones aren’t.
But how can you tell the difference between real and imaginary when you lack sufficient real information?
There are millions of dollars of “cushions” buried in this budget that do not go to classroom education. In the face of teacher layoffs, this budget proposes millions of dollars to construct an administration building instead of using existing facilities. Faced with massive state cuts in education, is this the time for a $3.5 million capital expansion program at the expense of our children?
There is another $6.8 million that is not in the Budget that the School will receive from the City this year as a result of the Board of Education having sold its school buildings several years ago. When this money is paid, it can help save teachers’ jobs, pay expenses and reduce the tax levy. Our children come first, and with $6.8 million of cash available, we need to get it right and get it done now.
I believe that the proponents to the Budget are not effectively serving the students. I believe that we must pause, re-evaluate and produce good information so we can do right by our children.
For these reasons, I am recommending that you join me in rejecting the proposed school board budget on April 20th. This gives us and the City an opportunity to get it right. This will be a win-win for our children.
An informed vote is vital. While I will be voting for Stephen Brown, Glenn Garrison and Enrique Diaz on Tuesday, I invite you to click here to go the Englewood One Community website for a look at each of the candidates’ platforms as reported by the Suburbanite.
We too often feel helpless in making government serve us. In this case, the quality and value you get from our City are in your hands!
Best regards, and Vote on this Tuesday, April 20, 2010.
Mayor Frank Huttle III
The statements below were published in the Suburbanite.
I am running for the board to continue the fight to maintain high standards while responsibly managing resources amidst the worst economic recession in generations. The district must re-engineer its operations in order to keep academic standards high without unduly burdening taxpayers.
I believe I have the experience and track record to accomplish these goals.
Like most managers in corporate America, the economy has required me to do my job to the highest quality standards with fewer resources than before. This district must now do the same — reconfigure its operations by cutting extremely high administration costs and working more efficiently. This will save teaching positions, preserve courtesy busing and early-childhood programs. We also must think out-of-the box to find free resources to help our children. For example, three years ago I personally brought to the district the NJ SEEDS College Preparatory Program which prepares academically motivated students with limited financial means for admission to selective colleges. I also orchestrated the district’s “Give a Kid a Smile” program to provide hundreds of students with much needed dental care from local doctors. Both these programs are funded through charitable donations.
I have been against lowering graduation requirements as a way of “helping” failing students. Lowering the academic bar without fixing what’s broken academically and raising taxes without fixing the district’s cost structure is simply not responsible.
I respectfully ask that you vote for me (ballot position #5) so that we can maintain high standards academically and fiscally. Thank you for your consideration.
I want to be a member of the Englewood Board of Education because our children are our future. Our schools must provide the environment and opportunity for our students to achieve and excel and highlight the “Quality of Life” concerns of our community for all our residents. Children today must have the literacy, communication and technological skills to be productive and successful.
As a parent and a member of the Board of Education I will encourage and vigorously promote policies and programs that strive for and support high academic achievement in a balance with positive social, cultural and personal individual development. Realizing that tax increases are a concern, it will be my position as a board member not to increase taxes, but to examine how cuts can occur without compromising children’s education. The consolidation of services with the City of Englewood could result in cost savings for the district, which can be allocated to programs and staffing that, perhaps, are subject to budget cuts. I feel the Englewood Public School System is striving to become better and I support flagship programs such as dual language immersion, the Avid & Ivy Program and Academies@Englewood.
These innovative and challenging new ideas established a positive, new basis and foundation on which to build. We must now focus on challenging all students to perform at levels comparable to those in our flagship programs. Our ultimate goal should be to have Englewood achieve the distinction of being a statewide and national “Blue Ribbon School System.”
As parents, my wife and I have learned to set high expectations for our children – whether in their schoolwork, chores or how they behave as young citizens. In these difficult times, we, like many of our neighbors, have had to sacrifice to live within our means. But we know, no matter how difficult the times, we cannot lower our expectations for children.
Our children attend the Englewood Public Schools. I have volunteered there and as a Little League coach and in the Jr. Football program. I have seen firsthand how children need coaching, mentoring and high expectations.
The current recession has had a devastating effect on Englewood’s schools. Taxpayers are suffering. State funding is disappearing and the district can no longer operate under the pretense of “business as usual.” Compounding the problem is that some board members seem more concerned with lowering standards than addressing the schools’ economic crisis.
I am running because I believe my education and professional experience in finance give me the skills needed to tackle the financial challenges ahead. My experiences as a parent have taught me that we must keep expectations high for all children.
Moving forward, the district must examine each program from the ground up and understand how every dollar is spent.
Tough decisions will have to be made. We must invest in success, keep our standards high and learn to live within our means.
I hope you will join me in this fight.
When I moved to Englewood in 1989, people said, “It’s a great town, but stay away from the schools.” My wife and I both attended public schools and believe strong schools are the foundation of a strong community. When the time came to enroll our own children in school, we chose to roll up our sleeves and work to build a school system in Englewood that meets the needs of all our children.
As an active public school parent and board member, I am proud of our accomplishments. Asked to oversee our multi-year construction program, I worked hard to deliver the new Grieco School and upgrade our other schools. I partnered with the superintendent to develop curriculum to prepare our children for the Academies@Englewood. I fought for interscholastic sports at the middle school so our young teens have “somewhere to be” during critical after-school hours.
We have more work ahead. Facing our greatest financial crisis in years, we must do more with less and develop creative solutions for our funding needs. For example, when I learned the district wasn’t applying for reimbursement of students’ physicals and other therapy expenses, I insisted we do so. We have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.
It’s time to muster our strengths, ingenuity and experience to keep our schools moving forward despite the challenges we face. I ask you to support me in this mission. On April 20, please vote for Glenn Garrison (ballot position 4).
I’m running for reelection to the school board. I have been committed to education from my children’s K-12 years, through my 10 years as director of the In-School Volunteer Program into the present. My goal upon reelection is to bring to fruition our work in progress.
My priorities are to:
1) educate our children
2) keep teachers in the classroom
3) control the tax burden
Education is not a one-size-fits-all process. I am ombudswoman for all children: those in the Academies and Academies-prep, striving standard achievers and those needing extra help.
Young children are “wired” to learn: curious, active, open. Early childhood education is essential for brain development and later academic success. We must pick up children when they totter, before the vicious cycle of failure and remediation begin. Currently our budget has been hit by the perfect storm: $5.7 million of customary state aid has been eliminated by governor’s decree. The bulk of our expenditures are salaries, health benefits, utilities, maintenance and repairs. Little discretionary monies are left for athletics, libraries and summer and after-school programs which benefit our children. Everyone has been hit and affected by the deep ongoing recession. Therefore, the superintendent with the board’s consent, has eliminated since the 2008-2009 budget, including the 2010-2011 budget, 31 teachers, five teacher assistants, six secretaries, two technicians and 10 administrators while trying to retain essential education programs for our children. Our ongoing challenge is to balance fiscal restraint with our mission to keep improving student achievement.
I am a married mother of two and proud Englewood homeowner. My son attends Grieco Elementary School.
I graduated from DMHS and attended FDU. Before becoming a full-time mom, I worked in management. Presently and for the last four years, I have worked vigorously for parent empowerment through the local PTOs and community outreach forums; mentor training for our youth and school volunteer programs through the Englewood Education Alliance and cross-racial and cultural understanding and appreciation with the newly formed Voices group.
I am running for the Englewood Board of Education because I want our children to graduate with the same children with whom they started pre-K. A Board of Education sets policy and when I am elected I hope to work with the sitting membership to create policies that will support our administration and our faculty in the use of research based instructional strategies that will meet the learning needs of ALL children. Our children must be in schools that afford them the opportunity to reach their full intellectual, academic and social potential.
As districts across the state continue to reel from the governor’s current cuts the Board of Education must use a new and proactive approach because what is happening currently is not working for too many children.
Vote for change! Vote for me April 20 and I promise to work really hard and diligently with the sitting board members to plan and set appropriate goals that will benefit ALL the children and to achieve the distinction of Blue Ribbon status.
As reported in The Record, Mayor Frank Huttle is calling for City Council meetings to be televised and streamed live online as part of an effort to make information about the city more available to residents. In addition, residents can visit EnglewoodOne.com to find Englewood news and learn more about their city government. The full article is below.
ENGLEWOOD — Residents may soon be able to attend City Council meetings from the comfort of their own homes.
Mayor Frank Huttle is asking the council to have all council meetings filmed, televised and streamed live online in order to promote transparency to the residents and let people participate who can’t make it to meetings.
Currently, only audio recordings of meetings are made, making it difficult for residents to participate in the governmental process if they are unable to attend, a statement from the mayor said.
“Today, unless you are able to make time in your schedule to attend a meeting, … you have little recourse to finding out what your elected officials think or do,” Huttle said.
Meetings, in addition to being streamed live, would be archived online for residents to reference later. As for the television broadcasts, Huttle said the city will have to work out on which channel they would appear.
He added, “I want to make it as easy as possible for residents to get information about their government so they can participate in critical issues.”
Huttle said the current economic crisis meant that the council needs transparency “more than ever.” The city, he said, is at a critical stage in the budget process and transparency is essential in order for the residents and taxpayers to be informed.
“It’s past time to show the people who elected us that we are serious about running a transparent, open government on their behalf,” Huttle said.
Many municipalities in the state televise government meetings and Huttle said he was hoping to form a partnership with the Englewood Board of Education in order to have students from the schools studying television production work to record the meetings. “It can be a great learning experience for the kids to get involved with this,” he said.
He added he wants the television and Internet broadcasts to be live so residents can participate as the events are occurring. The costs of streaming the broadcasts to the Internet, he said, would be minimal. “In my opinion, it’s an absolute necessity at this time,” he added.
While Huttle said there is not yet a timetable for start taping, he hoped it would begin in short order, and he planned to discuss it with the council at the next meeting, May 4.
“We now have so much greater ability to communicate with a broad base of our residents than prior generations,” the mayor said. “We should seize those advancements to improve transparency and public education.”
I was well aware that when I was sworn into office in January that the State of the City and its finances were in bad shape.
But now as I am quickly approaching my first 100 days in office, I’m beginning to feel like Bill Clinton did in his first few months in office in 1992 when he said, “I knew things were bad, but I didn’t think they were this bad.”
I have seen firsthand the state that Englewood is in.
- The snow storms and then the catastrophic nor’easter revealed deep weaknesses.
- Our communication system, by which the city should be able to keep its citizens informed in the case of emergency, is greatly lacking.
- The resources and equipment that we have available is so insufficient that it is not enough to plow our own streets when it snows.
- Our many public buildings are in poor and decaying repair.
The city firehouse, as I have seen with my own eyes, is in complete disrepair. The truth is that it is falling down around the firefighters that serve us.
I am pleased that the City Council President has chosen to discuss the firehouse because for years, the City implemented no plan on how to address the situation.
I, along with our City Engineer, Kenneth Albert, have submitted for Federal Funding through Congressman Rothman for the construction of a new firehouse. In addition we must explore all other funding sources to allow this project to commence immediately. We cannot accept any more excuses for not building a new firehouse and also address the immediate hazardous conditions of the firehouse.
We have a list of problems a mile long and it seems to me that the conventional wisdom is to tax our way out of them. This is not the solution. In fact, it pulls us further down a deadly spiral where higher and higher school and municipal taxes lead to consequences in the tax base. These consequences rob growth and force prospective buyers and investors, in both commercial and residential property to look elsewhere.
Our taxpayers cannot sustain another increase in either school or municipal taxes.
None of these problems are going away. Though we have the brainpower and the will in this City to find the solutions and make the tough choices, we don’t seem to be doing it. I am glad to hear that the City Manager has been working to reduce the budget down, but much remains to be done. The budget must provide each taxpayer with a zero increase in taxes.
The City Manager presented a proposed budget in February with a 10.57% increase in taxes. Tax spending has increased over 38% since 2007. The City spends $14 million more per year than it did in 2006-2007. The average property tax bill in 2009 for the first time tops $11,000. With a 10.57% increase, the average tax bill would go over 12,000.00 for 2010.
Adding the School Budget, the City of Englewood is projected to spend in excess of $100 million this year making it one of the largest businesses in Bergen County!
This business as usual approach is no longer viable given the crisis that we face in this City.
For the substance of the budget hearings, we must swear off the idea of adding to the already heavy burden that our taxpayers carry. To assure that we have the best and productive budget meetings I recommend to the City Manager and Council:
- All information and documents requested by the Mayor or any member of the Council in preparation for the meeting should be provided as soon as possible.
- Until a budget is approved by the City Council, that:
- The City freezes any new hires for employment.
- Freezes any salary increases and contract negotiations.
- No spending should exceed 2009 spending levels, unless under emergency circumstances.
- No capital improvement or improvements should be made unless for emergency conditions.
- Finally, the City Manager should present a City Budget with a zero base increase.
I stand ready to help accomplish this in any way. I can and will meet with anyone at any time to accomplish this end. We must all resolve together as one community to get this done.
Agenda for Council meeting April 6, 2010
Executive Session Committee of the Whole (Mr Dan Fitzpatrick, City Manager)
1. Fire House
2. Metered Parking
3. Recreation Fees
4. Council Meeting Dates for remainder 2010
5. Dates for Budget Hearings (April 19, 20, 26, 27, 28)
6. Parking on Huguenot
7. Eleanor Harvey Park
8. Proposed Bid Package and Specifications for leasing of Ice Rink
9. Auditor – Bonding Alternatives
10. Agenda Review
11. Closed Session
Minutes March 2, 2010
Bills and Claims
Communications from Mayor and Council Members
Public Comment on Agenda Items
PREVIOUSLY INTRODUCED ORDINANCE
10-05 An Ordinance Authorizing Sale of Land Without Public Auction
10-16 An Ordinance Authorizing the Lease of the John T Wright Arena located in Mackay Park in City of
1. Authorize Award of Police Vehicle Repair and Maintenance Contract
2. Authorize Award of Pool Management Contract
3. Authorize Award of Recreation Bus Service Contract
4. Authorize Parking Area Easement Agreement with Towne Center
5. Authorize Agreement for ATT Corp to install Communications Facilities
6. Authorize Rejection of Bids
7. Authorize Award of Contract for Repair and Reconstruction of Tennis and Basketball Courts
8. Approve Temporary Emergency Appropriations
The Board of Education is the ultimate and final authority over the schools in our City. All budgeting, the levying of school taxes on your property, the setting of school policy and the hiring of the staff and administration of the schools is handled by the Board of Education. There are seven members of the Board of education and they are directly elected by the citizens of Englewood to three year terms.
I would like to welcome you to Englewood One Community, which is a new and exciting venue through which all of us can communicate about the important issues impacting our City.
So much goes on in our community and in City Government of which we may not be aware. It is true that we all lead busy lives – working and caring for families. Our busy lives make it difficult for us to keep up with the things that go on in our local communities. And this has a tendency to make us feel less involved and less connected both as a community and to one another.
I hope that through this online community we will be able to reverse this trend. Here you will be able to find out about what’s going on in Englewood and City Government: from understanding what the planning board does to weighing in on important matters before the Council. You will also be able to find news, information, and links to almost every other site on the goings-on in our City. You’ll also be able to connect with others, comment and make your feelings known on all of the above.
So, please come back and visit us again and often. I will be commenting on some of the important matters and events that come up and will also post timely information and updates.
The next Mayor’s Corner will be devoted entirely to the fiscal crisis facing the City of Englewood and the City Manager’s budget proposal for a 10.57% tax increase as a solution. We are now in the fourth month of the City’s budget year, and the Council President has only recently scheduled budget hearings commencing in Mid-April. The Board of Education is proposing a tax increase of 4.9%. With annual spending topping $100 million per year, Englewood is one of the largest businesses in Bergen County, and it is time the City runs like any well-run business: raising the costs of services is not the solution for our taxpayers. Stay tuned.
I hope to see you here again soon, and please email me if I can be of assistance.