Council Gets Early Start on 2013 Budget Shortfall
Council has asked the borough manager to prepare a list of possible service cuts for next year so it can discuss the merits of each as soon as possible.
Recognizing that the borough faces at least a half-million dollar shortfall in 2013, council opted Tuesday to immediately begin discussions on how best to balance next year’s budget.
At Deputy Mayor John Cosgrove’s request, the borough manager will prepare for council within the next 60 days a plan outlining a number of feasible service cuts and the amount each cut is expected to save the borough.
Manager Tom Metzler suggested that the 2013 budget be discussed at every future work session, so the latest information and proposed budget solutions can be shared between town administrators and the council on an ongoing basis.
“The more information the better,” he said. “Let’s find out where it takes us.”
Once council has agreed on a list of potential cuts, Metzler suggested the town mail property owners a survey along with next quarter’s property tax bills to gauge their service preferences.
“Let’s find out from our residents what services they want, what services they don’t want, what are acceptable cuts,” he said.
As part of Metzler’s proposal, each returned survey would be tied to a specific lot and block number, which would allow the borough to glean additional geographic and demographic information about responders.
“Every property owner would at least have the opportunity to tell us what they think and we’d be able to break it down by commercial properties versus residential properties,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski spoke up on behalf of renters in Fair Lawn, asking the manager to ensure that owners of apartment complexes in town distribute surveys to their tenants.
Simultaneously, Metzler said he was reviewing the borough's operational structure following comments councilman Kurt Peluso made last week about what he considers to be the top-heavy nature of the recreation department.
"There were some very valid questions that were asked with regard to ratio of supervision," Metzler said. "Just because this is the way we’ve operated for the last 20 years doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right way to be operating."
Although a full report isn't expected for another 45 days, Metzler said they'd already found one instance where the borough is paying more to outsource a service than it would cost to keep that service in house.