The Fort Lee Borough Council introduced its 2012 municipal budget Thursday, with spending up 1.9 percent, and a tax levy increase of 1.86 percent over last year’s budget.
The total amount of money borough officials anticipate raising through taxation is roughly $58.7 million, and the total anticipated general appropriations for 2012 at introduction amount to slightly less than $69.4 million under the proposed budget.
Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said Thursday he’s “very, very proud of where this borough is fiscally as of today.”
“I think that this budget is as strong as any budget of any community in Bergen County,” Sokolich said, noting that no services have been cut, and that the municipal workforce has been reduced by about 15 percent through attrition without furloughs or layoffs. He also said the borough continues to “go through an aggressive repayment program” to reduce bond debt, having reduced it by “upwards of $30 million” during the current administration.
However the mayor did say that the proposed budget is a work in progress and acknowledged that it isn’t perfect.
“We’re not happy yet; this is a pretty substantially complete package, but we continue to work on it every day to make it even better,” Sokolich said. “Of course we want it to be at zero. Of course we want to issue refund checks. Quite frankly, a few months ago, I told you that we were going to do better than we actually did. But we’re going to continue to work on it.”
He noted as “surprises” health benefits going up by nearly $1 million, as well as increases in salaries and wages and debt services.
Borough auditor Steve Wielkotz called the 1.9 percent increase on the spending side of the budget “pretty remarkable.”
Wielkotz said salaries for borough employees and health benefits were the two main “drivers” in the increased spending.
“I think the most important piece on the spending side is that all of the operating costs, all of the departmental costs, once again this year, for I believe the fourth or fifth year in row, are less than they were the previous year,” Wielkotz said. “This year all of the operating costs across the budget are going down almost $297,000 from last year.”
He added that the governing body has been able to deal with the difficult economic climate of the past four to five years “in a very business-like manner—through attrition.”
“There’s been a significant amount of retirements across the board,” Wielkotz said. “There’s been filling of positions only when those positions were critical to provide services to the taxpayers.”
Below is a look at the 2012 municipal budget as introduced at Thursday’s regular meeting of the Fort Lee Mayor and Council:
Revenue and Appropriation SummariesSummary of Revenues 2012 (anticipated) 2011 1. Surplus $2,400,000.00 $2,250,556.51 2. Total Miscellaneous Revenues $7,045,751.50 $6,805,141.87 3. Receipts from Delinquent Taxes $1,245,000.00 $1,400,000.00 4. a) Local Tax for Municipal Purposes $56,611,017.81 $55,470,700.92 b) Addition to Local District School Tax c) Minimum Library Tax $2,089,905.00 $2,139,250.00 Total Amount Raised by Taxes $58,700,922.81 $57,609,950.92 Total General Revenues $69,391,674.31 $68,065,649.30 Summary of Appropriations 2012 Budget 2011 Budget 1. Operating Expenses: Salaries & Wages $26,045,960.00 $25,345,173.00 Other Expenses $27,665,343.69 $26,793,018.64 2. Deferred Charges & Other Appropriations $5,798,746.62 $6,288,593.66 3. Capital Improvements $50,000.00 $300,000.00 4. Debt Service (Include for School Purposes) $8,131,624.00 $7,712,364.00 5. Reserve for Uncollected Taxes $1,700,000.00 $1,617,500.00 Total General Appropriations $69,391,674.31 $68,065,649.30 Total Number Employees as of 12/31 (FT) 246 255
Balance of Outstanding DebtGeneral Utility-Other Interest $2,811,864.00 Principal $5,225,000.00 Outstanding Balance $56,517,000.00
A hearing on the budget and tax resolution is scheduled for April 19 at 8 p.m. at .
Copies of the budget are available at the borough clerk’s office and will be available on the borough’s website by the end of the day Friday.