Monday, May 17, 2010

The 2010 Municipal Budget

With the barrage of media coverage this year with everything related to local BOE budgets, the Dumont 2010 Municipal Budget seems to have received little attention.  Introduced on April 6, 2010:

The 2010 budget will require that municipal taxes increase $1,309,205 for support of municipal operations.  The 2010 municipal tax rate will increase 6.2 tax points or $237 on an average home assessed at $382,000.

Is my math incorrect or does that translate to a tax increase of 8.96% over last year?

Where is the outrage?

Recently the Council in Tenafly tried introducing their 2010 budget which had an 8% tax increase.  What happened?  According to the Record,

(Tenafly) Residents shared their concerns about a proposed 8 percent municipal tax levy hike at the May 6 budget workshop, causing the governing body to delay introduction of the spending plan.

The Dumont council held two hearings since the introduction, one at the senior center and another at borough hall.  Only one resident was present at borough hall to ask questions about the budget.  When asked whether the introduced budget reflected any cuts, the answer was no.  A number of other questions revealed that the Finance Committee seemed just as forthcoming as the BOE when it came to their respective budgets - if at all.  In addition, many practices seemed troubling as to how the municipal books were maintained.

When a request was made for the municipal budget's background information, this was the response:

...request for OPRA #29-documents that provided the background, details and basis for Dumont’s 2010 municipal budget introduction-is denied. The Borough attorney stated that it is considered deliberative work product and is not discoverable under OPRA and common law right of access.

Upcoming resolution being voted on the May 18, 2010 meeting appears interesting:

#10-156 Self-Examination of Dumont Municipal Budget *

How does that look when the council wants to "self-examine" a budget that they have refused to open to the public?  What does that say about their credibility?  Why are the budgets of Englewood and Mount Olive completely open and easily downloadable?  Is this similar to the BOE budget, where one resident thought it was "planned to fail"?

Since the council is reviewing the defeated BOE budget and suggesting further cuts, would it be fair to have the BOE review the municipal budget and suggest further cuts as well?

Every day I thank our Police for keeping our streets safe and our DPW for keeping our streets orderly.  I even thank all the staff in Borough Hall from Administrator to administrative assistants in all the various departments for keeping the borough's house in order.  Having said that, does this mean that our elected officials are relieved of their responsibility to negotiate new and re-negotiate existing labor contracts at every level to reflect the "shared sacrifice" currently experienced by residents?