After Silent Hearing, Council Adopts Zero Increase Budget
Nobody steps up during the time for public comment
Following a public hearing without any public comments, the Borough Council on Tuesday night adopted a 2011 municipal budget with $45,586,520.11 in total general appropriations and a zero-percent increase for Fair Lawn taxpayers.
The budget includes $33,780,235 in appropriations for municipal purposes within the property tax cap, $8,506,285.11 excluded from the cap, and a $3,300,000 reserve for uncollected taxes. Anticipated revenues other than current property taxes amount to $12,525,858.11. There are no furlough days and no layoffs for borough employees in the budget.
About 15 people attended the council meeting, and none stepped up to the podium to air their views on the budget. Mayor Lisa Swain said that "While this may not be a perfect budget, this is a very good budget." She credited the "very tough decisions" and sacrifices Fair Lawn has made the last couple of years, including the 14 furlough days for borough employees and 18 for library employees during 2010.
"That contributed to the budget that we're voting on right now," Swain said.
Additionally, last September, the borough laid off four police officers. On Wednesday, the borough is beginning the process of adding two officers, Manager Tim Stafford confirmed when asked by Deputy Mayor Joe Tedeschi.
Deputy Mayor Steve Weinstein said that, "In Bergen County, we're probably the only town at this point that's coming in with the zero tax increase." The budget is also able to "pretty much, give residents of Fair Lawn the services they expect."
Councilman Ed Trawinski gave part of the credit to Governor Chris Christie, whose 2 percent cap on property tax increases, along with other initiatives, forced municipalities like Fair Lawn to reign in their spending, he said. Tedeschi, however, said that "Chris Christie did not cut this budget," but instead that the council made the cuts and taxpayers also stepped up.
Tedeschi said he doesn't think furloughs "are the answer in any situation." Councilmember Jeanne Baratta agreed, calling furloughs a "a one-time shot."
"Unless you do it every year, it doesn't work," she said.
Tedeschi said, "What we've done now, is put in place some good changes," but also looked forward to the future.
"We have to start working on the next budget," he said.