Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Council Introduces Budget Amendments

The City Council voted Monday to introduce budget amendments that will reduce the municipal tax levy by $3.2 million, a 6.6 percent decrease from $48 million when the budget was introduced back in September.

City Administrator Marc Dashield explained each amendment and the council voted on them as a whole, instead of a voice vote on every line, as in the past. The next step is for the amendments to be published before a hearing set for 8 p.m. on April 27 in Municipal Court. The council may then pass the amended budget.

Taxpayers should see a "dramatic decrease" in their next tax bills, Dashield said, because estimated bills had been set at "5 percent." Dashield said the city needs to "do a PR campaign" to publicize the new rate. But when Council President Rashid Burney asked whether residents had been "overbilled," Dashield said "yes."

The total budget for FY 2009, as amended, is $68 million, down from $72 million.

Among the changes, the "other expenses" category for the Corporation Counsel's office increased 65 percent, from $270,000 to $445,000, due to anticipated legal costs for several pending lawsuits, including the city's appeal of the Muhlenberg closing. Public Information costs dropped from $110,000 to zero, because the office was collapsed into Information Technology, which in turn saw an increase from $75,000 in other expenses to $210,000. Gasoline costs went up 22 percent to $414,000. and street lighting went up 9.4 percent to $635,000.

Many other categories were reduced, including a $100,000 cut to the Plainfield Public Library.

The amendments included changing a payment in lieu of taxes for the Allen-Young Apartments from $1,847,266.20 to $184,266.20, to cure a typo. But another one crept in, when a capital improvements figure went from $560,000 to $5,600,000.

The net budget change went from a proposed tax increase of 9.5 percent to just a 2.2 percent increase in the local tax levy over last year.

Besides having to wait on the state for budget information, the city also saw shifts in personnel that slowed things down. Finance Director Douglas Peck left in December and for the second time in the past three years, Dashield had to serve in that role in addition to his own. The city also had to wait for state legislation allowing pension deferral for tax relief.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess the mayor still has 3 assistants. Unbelievable.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see what Plainfield's pension obligations are. Deferring payments seems completely irresponsible, but wholly in line with the governor's Wall Street flim-flam background. I'm sure Goldman Sachs et al are standing ready to game the black hole of public pension obligations.

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Can you clarify the proposed cut to the library budget? I was unclear as to whether it has been reduced to $100,000 or reduced to something else from $100,000. In either case, it's very unfortunate--as a regular library user, I see the increased traffic there--we have one of the finest libraries in the state with extensive community and regional users--it ot that way because of the dedication and professionalism of Joe DaRold, his staff, and the necessary money to enhance its offerings.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

It was cut by $100,000 from $1,656,338 to $1,566,338. I agree with your assessment of the library. Between now and April 27, your concerns can be voiced to your council representatives and there will also be a hearing that night before the vote.

12:49 PM  

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