Montclair is moving in “a disconcerting direction” financially says the latest report from the Operating Budget Advisory Committee (OBAC) issued yesterday.
OBAC took town leadership to task about the local budget process and possibility of a tax increase.
“OBAC believes that swift and strategic action should be taken by the township leaders to review the overall organizational structure of the municipal operations and on a department by department basis for possible restructuring,” the report states. “All cost areas and revenue streams should be scrutinized and steps should be taken to minimize costs and maximize revenues; fiscal policies and procedures should be dramatically improved and implemented to ensure prudent and responsible spending; a concerted effort to control and reduce the town’s reliance on debt should be implemented immediately; and more transparency with township spending should be made to show taxpayers how their tax dollars and the township operations are being managed.”
“The organizational structure of Montclair’s municipal operations should be reviewed for consideration of potential savings in all employee related costs,” the report states. “Employee-related costs and the dramatic increases in such, are draining township resources. Outsourcing substantially all services provided by the Municipal office, restructuring operations and performance-based approaches have been successful in reducing costs in other towns and cities. Montclair’s leadership should consider a study be done to determine the savings that could be attained through this type of approach. This would provide a goal of potential savings for the township, whether such restructuring are implemented or not.”
The report from OBAC called for salary reviews, demotions and reductions as well as department consolidation. OBAC also cited the township’s neglect of non-taxpayer revenue.
“There have been several examples of weak, and possibly non-existent policies for revenue opportunities,” the report states. “The examples include the town reportedly forgetting to bill for at least one PILOT of agreement in 2010, undercharging for shared services or entering into agreements allowing businesses to be up and running, but not paying fair and appropriate taxes or amounts under PILOT agreements.”