With 60% of you tax dollars going to the schools, 20% to the County, the Council already only controls twenty cents on the dollar.
Most of that money goes for salaries, health insurance, and debt.
The town is down 40 employees over 4 years. In doing so the spending increased.
There are union contracts that provide for increases. There are “steps” in the contracts that require the person to just breathe for another year and their salary is increased.
At this point our provision of services has been crippled. We have insufficient people in planning, finance, the Municipal Clerk’s office, the Court.
We are NOT going to pay off a significant amount of $240MM in debt.
We are NOT going to save gobs of money from the Municipal budget and send it to the schools.
And we are not going to develop our way out of our predicament! I heard one number of $10MM in “new” taxes. Well, at our tax rate of $3 that would mean we’d need new development of $330MM. The new DCH project is $80MM. WHERE would we build $330MM of projects?
What we can do:
1. Hold debt spending to less than we pay off. But this may not help because we have SO MUCH SHORT TERM DEBT that by law must be converted into long term bonds. Thus debt at 1% interest will be replaced by debt at 4%.
2. Hold taxes to a minimal increase. 2% should be a goal for TOTAL tax increases.
4. Re-organize for better delivery of services. This may call for HIRING good, new, excellent people. It may call for giving some of the work to outside companies.
5. Plan for regionalization (Harvey has spoken extensively about this). This is the long term solution to REAL change.
There is undoubtedly non sense in the budget. Karen has found things that must be fixed. Harvey has offered to make her part of the next team if he wins.
But we have a very good, new, CFO. If the Manager supports him he will make a huge difference.
And I made it a priority to get an excellent auditor and within days of his coming on board we announced a huge “surplus.”
And remember, the leverage is with the schools, the 60% of the budget.
Cary Africk, 2nd ward councilor, frequently blogs here and on the Montclair Watercooler. Earlier this week we reported that Africk has endorsed Harvey Susswein.