Mapp Calls For Tax Year Change
Plainfield was among municipalities that took advantage of a one-time opportunity in the early 1990s to switch from a tax year beginning Jan. 1 to a fiscal year beginning July 1. The plan allowed municipalities to issue bonds for uses not normally permitted and involved establishing a six-month transitional tax period.
Mapp said of 51 municipalities that made the switch, several have recently gone back to a calendar year. A key issue would be to determine whether any fiscal year adjustment bonds are still outstanding. However, tax bills would be simplified, as the quarterly schedule would then match those of the state and county. The change would also allow a municipality to anticipate state aid and to avoid a cap on the tax levy. For the tax year that began July 1, 2008, the city only came in under the cap by deferring state pension payments, he noted.
The change would also align the tax year with election cycles, map said, noting when he took office Jan. 1, the city was in the middle of a budget year and he had to vote on a budget that he had no hand in formulating.
The transition process would include adopting an ordinance and applying to the Local Finance Board for approval.
Mapp, who previously served on the City Council and the Union County Freeholder Board and ran for mayor against incumbent Sharon Robinson-Briggs in the June primary, is also a certified chief financial officer. Despite his expertise, his presentation got a cold shoulder from City Administrator Marc Dashield, who said the change would just not be feasible with the FY 2010 budget. Ironically, Dashield cited Plainfield’s lack of a permanent chief financial officer as a major difficulty in making a transition.
Plainfield has not had a permanent chief financial officer since former CFO Peter Sepelya retired at the end of 2007. Robinson-Briggs sought council advice and consent in July to her nomination of James Mangin for the post, but the council took no action. Robinson-Briggs, who won the June Democratic primary and faces Republican Jim Pivnichny and Independent Deborah Dowe in the November 3 general election, said Monday she will be sending residents a letter on the tax process.
Mapp insisted the benefits of a tax year conversion would far outweigh the costs over time, but Dashield, a former chief financial officer in Franklin Township, disagreed.