Council takes steps to avoid cuts in budget

20 April 2014 3 views No Comment

Dear Residents:

Please see below article in the April 17, 2014 entitled: “Council takes step to avoid cuts in budget – Move keeps $1.2M in spending plan”

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

Englewood council takes step to avoid cuts in budget

APRIL 17, 2014 LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014, 12:31 AM
BY STEPHANIE NODA
STAFF WRITER
NORTHERN VALLEY SUBURBANITE
Move keeps $1.2M in spending plan

ENGLEWOOD – The city council will not have to cut $1.2 million from the proposed budget, giving the administration greater flexibility in 2014.

The council avoided making the cut at the April 8 workshop meeting by approving a 3.5 increase to the spending limit and passing a measure that allows unspent money to be used in the next two budgets, otherwise known as a “cap bank.”

Officials voted 3-2 to approve raising the appropriation cap limit to 3.5 percent and creating a cap bank, with Ward 2 Councilman Michael Cohen and Ward 1 Councilman Marc Forman casting the two dissenting votes.

If the appropriation cap increase was not approved, officials would have cut $1,245,000 from the introduced budget. The $60 million budget, which will raise taxes for the average property owner by $68.90, was created accounting for the 3.5 percent spending limit increase.

By approving the cap bank, City Manager Tim Dacey estimates $151,166 will roll over to the following budget cycle. He said that if the council had approved a cap bank in the past, officials would have never risked having to cut $1.2 million out of the budget. Since expenses were cut the last three years, officials had a lower base budget to work with.

Traditionally, Local Bond Law “prohibited from increasing their final appropriations by more than 2.5 percent or the cost-of-living adjustment, whichever is less, over the previous year.” This year, the Department of Community Affairs set the spending limit increase at .5 percent.

In 2011 and 2012, the council rejected creating a cap bank.

Council President Lynne Algrant supported creating a bank both times it was proposed in the past, while Ward 2 Councilman Michael Cohen rejected the idea both times.

Earlier this year, Cohen presented a non-binding resolution for a zero percent tax increase, which his colleagues rejected. He voted against the cap bank and spending limit increase since it was his “intention to do everything he can to not raise taxes and keep Englewood affordable.”

“I fully do not support overtaxing our residents,” said Cohen. “The argument over and over again [was that] we would have to make some serious decisions about what we have to cut [if the ordinance did not pass.] We are elected to make tough decisions… I’m ready to make tough decisions on the behalf of the public I represent.”

Algrant said the cap bank and the appropriation cap increase were tools provided by the state that allowed local municipalities to have control over their own finances.

Ward 3 Councilman Eugene Skurnick, who was against the cap bank in 2012, supported the measure this year since the state had set the appropriation cap limit at .5 percent instead of the traditional 2 percent.

“In other years, I did not vote for the cap since there was no financial reason,” said Skurnick. “We had a lot of surplus and we didn’t have all the tax appeals, and revenue wasn’t going down. There was no prior justification in my mind to use the cap.”

Email: noda@northjersey.com

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