Montclair’s 2021 budget process had been fraught, with concerns about funding for the Montclair Public Library system becoming a hot button issue for many. On Tuesday, the council announced amendments to the 2021 Montclair budget – including an increase of $100,000 to the township’s library system for a total of $419,848.
The library funding increase is contingent upon the library’s Bellevue Avenue branch, closed since March 2020 lockdowns, be opened as soon as possible. The next public hearing, and a possible final vote, will be May 18.The next public hearing for these new amendments to the budget, and the possibility of a final vote, is scheduled for May 18.
Some residents during public comment were pleased with the amendment; other were not satisfied and called for more transparency in the budget process. Members of Montclair Beyond Policing also raised concerns about monies in the budget allocated to the Montclair Police Department and how that money might be better allocated. Cuts to the budget that are part of the new amendments include a reduction in police vehicles. Ann Lippel of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee questioned the lack of attention to the growing senior population in Montclair – stating that there are more senior citizens in Montclair than students in Montclair Public Schools.
The amended budget would result in just under a 2% increase in municipal taxes.
Prior to the budget conversation, the Montclair town council also gave a proclamation in memoriam of Olympia Dukakis. The proclamation was read by Councilor at Large Robert Russo, who recalled the parade held for Dukakis after she won the Oscar for her role in “Moonstruck.”