Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tax Lien Sale Coming, Sepelya Leaving

The tax lien sale list published Wednesday is much shorter than the one published earlier this year because it only includes taxes owed to the city and not amounts owed to the PMUA. The sale of tax liens will take place at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 28 in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave. Officials hope to bring in $1.8 million in back taxes to help the bottom line for Fiscal Year 2008, which began July 1.

The budget as proposed by the administration reflects an 8.7 percent tax increase. The City Council hopes to reduce it to about 4 percent. Officials are awaiting word on extraordinary state aid to offset the increase. Plainfield requested $2.9 million, but realistically will get less than half that amount, based on past outcomes.

On Tuesday, the council agreed to tack budget talks on to the Nov. 19 agenda session, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall Library.

It will be the last budget process for Plainfield’s chief financial officer, Peter Sepelya Jr., who is retiring Dec. 31. Sepelya previously served Plainfield from 1972 to 1987, returning in 2000 after stints in Hunterdon County and Bridgewater. He was set to retire at the end of 2005, but agreed to stay on through the transition to the administration of Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who took office Jan. 1, 2006. The council had held off budget passage in late 2005 to afford the new administration a chance to give input.

Sepelya has provided stability and expertise in fiscal matters through times of change for the administration. Top officials including the city administrator and finance director were first named in acting capacity in January 2006. Former City Administrator Norton Bonaparte served as director of Administration & Finance until March 2006, when he left to become the first city manager of Topeka, Kan. The mayor’s choice for city administrator, Carlton McGee, then also informally took over Administration & Finance until he left in October 2006.

In January 2007, new City Administrator Marc Dashield took over and A. Raiford Daniels became director of Administration & Finance.

The job of chief financial officer is statutory and the individual holding the post must be certified. Here is the state Department of Personnel’s description of the job, including qualifications.

--Bernice Paglia


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