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Municipal Budget Still in Flux, Possible Introduction Next Week

Shortfalls in revenue and payment of delinquent taxes are complicating the Oradell budget process

Coming in under the state mandated 2% tax levy cap may have been the easiest thing so far for the Borough of Oradell as work continues on the 2012 municipal budget. Currently, the governing body is looking at a budget that comes a mere $165 under cap but is facing several unknowns including how many delinquent taxes they could be facing.

"The biggest unknown to this budget is the delinquent taxes that are owed," Chuck Ferraioli, the borough's auditor said. "The borough could do a tax sale to force the 2011 payments, but could end up in the same spot going forward if they don't pay the 2012 bill."

According to Ferraioli, Oradell is facing $595,385 in delinquent taxes from 2011 and 2012, but that the tax collector is still working to verify the final numbers. Last year, the borough received $303,000 in delinquent taxes, approximately $4,000 shy of what was owed.

Another issue the borough is facing is that in 2011, neither the borough of Emerson or Haworth paid their sewer fees to Oradell. The borough serves as the lead agent for all three boroughs. On average, the neighboring towns contribute $17,000 each to Oradell for their sewer fees.

According to Councilman Garrie Murphy, Emerson has the average amount on hand to be delivered while Haworth is currently disputing their payment. 

An ongoing issue in the borough is a continued decline in revenue which led Ferraiola to suggest creating a sewer utility as a separate budget to be funded by user fees.

"This year you have the revenue for high-user fees," Ferraiola said. "You could move that money into a separate account and reduce the operating budget but you would be billing the public for a new line item."

If Oradell chose to go forward with a sewer utility, each individual property (residential and commercial) would be billed separately based on their water usage according to information that could be acquired from United Water.

As of now the municipal levy stands at $10.16 million with a taxpayer increase of $53.17 per every $100,000 of an average home assessment. The average Oradell home is assessed at $531,722.

The council will introduce its 2012 municipal budget during the April 10 work session with its adoption to follow on April 24.

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