A public hearing of the was held during Monday night's council meeting, but the council voted 4-3 to defer the adoption of the $69.9 million budget to a later date, citing lack of approval from the state.
The budget, which carries a $53.3 million tax levy, is pending review and approval by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The public hearing was held as planned because official notice had already been published.
Mayor Raymond McCarthy and council members Michael Venezia, Peggy O'Boyle Dunigan and Bernard Hamilton voted to approve the deferment, while Council members Janice Maly, Nicholas Joanow and Robert Ruane voted against.
Fire Issue Burns On
Bloomfield firefighters took to the streets early Monday evening in arguably their largest showing yet, protesting budget cuts and a recent reduction in official fire department staff size.
Armed with signs and a megaphone, members of the fire department traveled from Fire Station 3 on East Passaic Avenue to town hall off Bloomfield Avenue to alert residents for the third consecutive week that
Fire and township officials - most notably Township Administrator Yoshi Manale - have been embroiled in a heated back-and-forth about staffing concerns within the department. Two weeks ago, Manale ordered Fire Chief Joseph McCarthy to of fire stations, a system implemented after Manale cut the Table of Organization staff levels to 78 men.
The order has fueled an onslaught of attacks on Manale and an increased concern for compromised safety at recent council meetings.
Michael Elias, a volunteer firefighter in Bloomfield, chided the six council members for staying mum on the issue, saying he's heard the opinions of residents, firefighters, Mayor McCarthy, Manale and Chief McCarthy.
"It's been very frustrating watching the six of you sitting on your hands pretending we don't have a serious life-safety concern," he said. "I worry there will be a fatality at the next fire, when we hear the words over the radio, 'Mayday, mayday, mayday.'"
Open Space Trust Fund Levy Reduced
The council voted unanimously on second reading for the to half a penny, leaving roughly $1.6 million in the fund.
Resident Susan Hebert called the $30-per-year levy the average household incurs under the full-penny levy a "paltry sum" when compared to the recently increased parking meter fees in town.
But Joanow noted the reduction would serve as a relief to taxpayers.
"In fairness to the taxpayers, no one on that board anticipated the reassessment would double," said Joanow. "I am supporting the fact that we need to roll back to that half-penny, because … when that referendum was proposed to the public, no one anticipated that. "
The next town council conference meeting is next Monday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in the mayor's conference room (second floor of the law enforcement building).
Click here to watch the entire council meeting, courtesy of WBMA-TV.