April 8, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 3 Franklin Lakes Council searches for budget cuts; chief considers retirement by Frank J. McMahon At a special session last week, the Franklin Lakes Council continued to search for ways to reduce the borough’s 2009 budget. Councilman Steve Marcus, chairman of the council’s Administration Committee, which includes finance and personnel issues, the budget is now approximately $14,750,000, which is $287,000 below the 2008 budget. However, he pointed out that this year’s budget suffers from a $1 million reduction in revenue, which is causing a higher tax levy. Potential reductions that were identified at the meeting by Borough Administrator Gregory Hart included $20,000 by reducing the police overtime at municipal court hearings, if that is acceptable to the municipal judge and prosecutor, and additional savings of $20,000 in gasoline adjustments and $10,000 in vehicle maintenance at the department of public works. A savings of $2,000 in personnel related reductions in the senior citizen budget was also identified, although Councilwoman Nathalie Lota said she was reluctant to make that reduction because the borough’s senior budget is comparable to, or lower than, those in other nearby towns. Mayor Maura DeNicola also advised that there are some personnel reduction issues that are being seriously considered, but those discussions were being held in closed session. One of the personnel changes the council is considering is Police Chief Irving Conklin’s suggestion that he retire if that move would prevent some layoffs. Conklin, who said he loves the community and the people he works with, explained that he did not intend to retire for three years and he would not retire unless he receives the same type of termination severance and lifetime health benefits the borough’s previous police chiefs received when they retired. The council has authorized its attorney, Douglas Doyle, to draw up a settlement agreement for Conklin to sign but, as of last week, Conklin said he has not seen or been notified of that proposed agreement. At the special meeting of the council, Hart outlined the development of this year’s budget, saying that the original 2009 budget was $1 million over the state imposed cap on the borough’s tax levy increase and $500,000 in surplus will not be used in the budget this year at the recommendation of the borough auditor. Hart explained, however, that $500,000 has already been cut from the budget, and has cut an additional $200,000 in salaries and wages. In addition, he said $363,000 in pension payments will be deferred, bringing the amount the tax levy exceeds the cap to $350,000 plus another $100,000, which must be added to that amount because of the reduced state aid that was recently announced by the state government. With the reductions that have been identified at the recent special budget meetings of the council, Marcus estimated that the tax levy is now about $285,000 over the state imposed cap. DeNicola suggested that figure could be reduced by $45,000 if the council agrees not to accept its stipends this year. Hart said that would leave a tax levy that was over the cap by $239,000, which would result in a municipal tax rate increase of about one and three-quarter cents or a $223 property tax increase on the owner of a home with the average assessed value (continued on page 4) Creations By Fran Flowers and More... We’re Ready for Easter! The Freshest Flowers & Arrangements Easter Plants Homemade Chocolates Spring Wreaths & Decorations 14 Central Avenue, Midland Park 201-444-8366 or 201-444-9474 Open Mon-Fri 9-6, Saturday 9-5 Full Service Florist Open Easter Sunday 9-2 Frank & Fran Lauretta Proprietors Spring specials available now for a limited time only. Call Robin at 973-636-7000