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Difficult Challenges Await River Edge in 2013

Governing body looks to continue cohesive relationship going in the coming year

Limited by the 2% levy cap, lack of revenues and redevelopment interest, River Edge will face many challenges in the coming year all while the governing body seeks to continue its cohesive relationship going. The council is now split down the middle along party lines with Democratic Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo able to cast a tie-breaking vote.

"We now have three Republicans and three Democrats on the council and unlike another borough across the river that every vote for the past year has come down with the mayor casting a decision, I don't see that happening this year in River Edge," Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo said. "We have people willing to work hard and move mountains for the benefit of the community as a whole. I will make a prediction that I can count on one hand the number of times I'll have to cast a tie vote. It doesn't take a Democrat or Republican to get things done."

But the borough will still face several challenge this year, starting with what could prove to be another difficult budget year.

"We have challenges again this year," Councilman Alphonse Bartelloni said. "The budget will not be easy. Together we can plow through it."

For the past few years, the borough's state aid has remained flat at $1,070,715 while taxpayers have been hit by back-to-back $14 million municipal budgets resulting in hikes of $234 in 2011 and $142 in 2012.

"This year's budget was challenging due to revenues decreasing by 5%, a significant increase in the Bergen County Utilities Authority and emergency costs for Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm," Borough Administrator/CFO Alan Negreann told Patch in April 2012.

Part of the decrease in revenues over the past year is due to businesses such as Blockbuster, Fresh N More, Eden Furniture, Mr. Bob's Cleaners and the Decorating Exchange closing their doors.

"We really have to look at redevelopment and promote that in town," Moscaritolo said. "We have these big empty box stores. I'm not going to make any predictions about the Huffman Koos property but I believe we will see them working in 2013 as the leases have been signed."

Peter and Paul Ciancia, owners of Route 4 - Main Street LLC have approval for a trio of retail buildings on the former Huffman Koos site with Total Wine moving further down towards Rt. 4 into a new 30,000-square-foot building on the property. As of early September, CVS had signed an agreement in principal to move from their current location near the River Edge Diner into the current Total Wine store. A third building, approximately 22,000-square-foot, situated in the middle of the property has not yet garnered a potential lessee. 

Moscaritolo added that the council will push for shovels to hit the ground for the construction of a new McDonald's on Main Street, a 7-Eleven on Kinderkamack Road and a 46-unit condominium development on Kinderkamack Road.

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Todd vandeweghe January 04, 2013 at 01:55 PM
How does Blockbuster, Fresh N More, Eden Furniture, Mr. Bob's Cleaners and the Decorating Exchange closing their doors affect revenues? Property owners are still obligated to pay their real estate taxes. What am I unaware of?
Eamon Harbord (Editor) January 04, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Yes the property owners are still obligated to pay taxes, but with the store fronts empty, I believe they can appeal how much they have to pay
njdelta January 04, 2013 at 02:05 PM
One of the real issues, that government employees will never address, is our municipal employees amazing compensation plans. Defined benefit plans for retirement only exist in government today.
Alphonse Bartelloni January 04, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Our first budget hearing for the 2013 budget will be held on January 12, at 8:00 a.m. at Borough Hall. These are public meetings and I would invite anyone who is interested in how the budget is created to attend. Also, for anyone who is interested the last several budgets for the Borough on available on the Borough website.
njdelta January 04, 2013 at 03:12 PM
How about an answer to Todd Vandeweghe's excellent question?
GGT January 04, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Whatever little development that we may get in 2012, will be off set by the 46 condos being built. Not to mention that if CVS moves from one location to anotther, then we still have yet another empty store. The loss of CVS from its current location will also impact the remaining stores that are there.
njdelta January 04, 2013 at 03:48 PM
How about an answer for Todd's above excellent question?
Todd vandeweghe January 04, 2013 at 05:04 PM
I am sure it is not Blockbuster, Fresh N More, Eden Furniture, Mr. Bob's Cleaners and the Decorating Exchange but Ciancia Bros that have appealed their taxes now that their land is now unimproved.
GGT January 04, 2013 at 05:51 PM
From what I understand regarding commercial property, if the property is not fully utilizied as in fully rented, than the owner does not pay the full tax amount normally owed, as the property is not fully utilized. That is also the case with the old Sanducci's property which will soon be completerly vacant when Dante's moves to its new location. Oh and lets not blame the Mayor & Council for the tax situation, as much of the increases over the years can be laid at the feet of residents who voted yes to every spending referendum.
Alphonse Bartelloni January 04, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I am not aware of the above referenced properties filing tax appeals. Doesn't mean that they didn't or that they won't, but these vacant properties are not what hits our budget the hardest nor is that what has driven the tax increases the last couple of years. The 2012 budget was less than the 2011 budget. The problem is lower revenue, unpaid taxes, emergency costs for storms, increased utility expenses, lack of surplus funds. This forum doesn't really lend itself to an in depth explanation of the budget and the process. In anyone wants to speak with me, just send me an email to the borough address and I would be happy to respond and discuss the budget.
Big Daddy Don Garlits January 04, 2013 at 08:00 PM
The only answer is to continue to raise property taxes on River Edge Residents...we all have an endless supply of cash and are always happy to fund the ever increasing government spending...and the 46 unit housing project will have zero effect on traffic or our schools.
GGT January 07, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Alphonse: And you Forgot out of control spending approved by residents in various voter approved referendums over the years. Of course the cheerleaders told the gullible voters not to worry about the costs, as the fantasty redevelopment would pay for it all.
Todd vandeweghe January 07, 2013 at 04:11 PM
I don't care what development brings in with gross taxes. I do care what the net is. I disagree with GCT in if a property is not fully rented, than the owner does not pay the full tax amount normally owed. Only upon a successful tax appeal would his tax obligation be reduced. I am not a lawyer but I have been self employed with a C corp for 25 years and also have owned rental property. I am also suspect of individuals posting coments under ficticous names. Who are they, what is their agenda and what are they hiding? Tip of the hat to Alphonse and Eamon.

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