Franklin Lakes July 22, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 11 Budget process could be just as difficult next year by Frank J. McMahon A projection of the revenues and appropriations for the Franklin Lakes budget for 2010 indicates that next year’s budget crunch may be as difficult as it was this year. Councilman Steve Marcus, chairman of the council committee that handles finance and personnel, provided the governing body with a comparison between the borough’s 2009 budget and the budget projected for 2010 and predicted there may have to be a $1,406,599 increase in the amount of taxes needed to fund next year’s budget. That figure would be a 14.8 percent increase. Marcus pointed to a projected $500,000 decrease in surplus revenue next year and a potential $30,000 decrease in miscellaneous non-recurring revenues, a four percent increase in salaries and wages, a $13,000 increase due to eliminating the temporary layoff policy, a five percent increase in group insurance cost, and an increase of $382,107 in full funding pension costs, as the major reasons for the increase on the amount of taxes needed to fund next year’s budget. The 2010 appropriations are projected to be $1,026,596 over the four percent tax levy cap imposed by the state, but exclusions of $441,323 are anticipated, leaving $585,273 over the cap. Marcus projects the 2010 revenues from the construction department to decrease from $271,220 in 2008 to an annualized $162,218 for 2009, and the borough’s interest income to decrease from an actual $140,041 to an annualized amount of $12,774 for 2010. He attributed the construction department revenue decrease to reduced construction activity in the borough due to the economy, although the workload in the construction and building department increased this spring, creating a workload problem in that department. “We will have to raise taxes to fund our expenses next year,” Marcus said. “That’s a reality until our revenues turn around. So be prepared for another round of tough budget problems,” he told the council. “It will be more of the same for next year, and I felt it was important to report this to you.” Auditor Frank DiMaria pointed out an additional financial problem the borough will have to face next year and that is how to fund the tax appeals that have been filed this year, which include tax appeals by Becton Dickinson, University Heights, and the Indian Trail Club. He explained several options, such as adding a line item in the 2010 budget, charging those costs to the operating budget, or issuing bonds or notes to pay those potential settlement costs and then paying off those notes in installments. He said his plan is to use a combination of the last two options with the issuance of bonds or notes to cover the commercial tax appeal settlements. Michael Leposky, the borough’s tax assessor, advised that there have been 143 tax appeals filed this year, and all of them are pending a settlement or court decision. About 70 of the appeals have not yet been heard in county or state tax court, he advised. In 2008, there were 90 tax appeals and in 2007, the year the borough was revalued, there were 188 tax appeals. The borough’s amended budget for 2009 was adopted June 4 after many months of debate and efforts to find ways to reduce costs. It ultimately included a temporary layoff policy in which all employees except uniformed police officers were laid off for two days a month for the balance of the year. That budget was expected to increase the borough’s tax rate by 1.4 cents to 19.1 cents, an increase that would raise the property taxes of the owner of a property assessed at the borough’s average assessed value of $1,278,690 by $179 per year. When the anticipated tax rate increases for the local and regional high school districts, the county, and the county open space tax rates are added to this municipal tax rate increase the borough’s total tax rate is expected to rise by 3.1 cents to $1.185, which would increase the property tax on a house with the average assessed value by $396 per year to $15,153. The Bergen County Board of Taxation is expected to release the actual tax rate calculations for the borough by the end of July. Generous gift Recently, Medco Health Solutions donated $10,000 to the Franklin Lakes Police Department to equip their new motorcycle and rider. 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