Council Unable to Agree on Municipal Budget
Town council was unable to amend and adopt the 2011 municipal budget on Wednesday night.
The Bloomfield Township Council narrowly missed amending and adopting the 2011 budget Wednesday night in a split three-three vote.
Township officials reviewed a budget amendment that would have increased total appropriations and revenue from $69.9 million to $70 million. Township Administrator Yoshi Manale said the amendment was neccessary because the state auditor said the municipality's anticipated revenues were too low.
Mayor Raymond McCarthy said amendment would resolve another snag in the budget in which state officials required the township to cut about $260,000 to reflect the bond payment for the recent municipal revaluation. The township had to make the change because state officials said the payment could no longer be considered an emergency appropriation. McCarthy said township officials ended up reducing $290,000 from unresolved tax collections.
Under the proposed change, the municipal tax levy - the amount of money raised from property taxes - would decrease slightly from the earlier $53.3 million to about $53 million. That would translate into a 7 percent municipal tax increase, or cost the average homeowner $221 more per year on a house assessed at $296,000, McCarthy said.
The overall proposed budget still falls under the state's 2 percent tax cap because most of the rising expenses - $2.5 million more for health benefits and $1.5 million in pension payments - are exempt from the cap, McCarthy said. The proposed budget would also reduce the number of municipal workers by seven jobs through attrition.
McCarthy and council members Bernard Hamilton and Peggy O'Boyle Dunigan supported the budget amendment and adoption while council members Janice Litterio, Nicholas Joanow and Robert Ruane voted against it. Councilman Michael Venezia was not present at the meeting.
The budget will come up for discussion once again at the June 13 meeting.
After the meeting, Litterio said she voted against the budget changes because she thought township officials were not given enough opportunity to sit down with department heads to discuss "what they need or can do without as a group total." Litterio, a teacher, said the discussions were scheduled when she could not be present.
McCarthy said he did not understand why the budget amendment and adoption was rejected. "We lowered the tax liability for that. So how do you vote no?"
One resident spoke out against the budget during the public comment session.
Ed Brasseur was angered by the proposed tax increase and he said it was a way to "punish the good citizens of this township by emptying their wallets and pocketbooks."
In other news...
Christine Fay of the Essex County Prosecutor's Office gave a presentation on Megan's Law, which required sex offenders to register their addresses with local police and requires community notification about certain moderate and high-risk offenders. The law is named after Megan Kanka, a seven-year-old Mercer County resident who was murdered by a neighbor and convicted sex offender in 1994.
Under the law, all sex offenders are required to inform local police of their address once they move into a neighborhood or face indictment, Fay said. However, the surrounding community and residents only get notified by police if the offender is considered a moderate or high risk for re-offense. Fay said Bloomfield has 10 registered sex offenders under 22 different names.
The state police has an Internet registry for sex offenders which can be accessed by the public at
But Fay said that registry information is intended to inform the public so they can make their own security precautions and the data should not be used to harass or discriminate against people on the list. She also noted that cases involving juvenile offenders, statutory rape and incest are not included in the registry.
Overall, Fay said "police officers do more than anyone knows," and she advised the public that "if you see something, let them know."
Several council members thanked Fay for her presentation and suggested reaching out to the school board and local parents.
Audience member Leonard Roberts, Bloomfield College's associate dean for student affairs. Roberts said he thought the presentation was informative and he plans on sharing it with his colleagues and other college members.
- Township officials approved a $15,000 contract to hire Acacia Financial Group Inc. of Marlton to serve as a municipal advisor on bonding issues. The council approved a $49,901 change order to pay for additional paving, concrete and guardrails for the Liberty Street and John F. Kennedy Drive intersection improvements.
- Residents Nicholas Adler and Jeffry Gully were appointed to the Oakeside Board of Trustees.
- The Township Council also presented ordinances that would add disability parking to 32 Watsessing Avenue and authorize a $1 million bond to pay for a new boiler for the municipal building.