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Chatham Borough Approves 2011 Municipal Budget

The $13,606,140 budget was approved, and Superintendent Jim O'Neill also gave an overview of new school district budget.

The Chatham Borough Council approved the 2011 municipal budget with no discussion and no comments or questions from the public during the regular council meeting Monday evening.

The budget passed unanimously.

According to presentations by Tammie Kopin, the borough's chief financial officer, on March 14 and March 28, the municipal budget totals $13,606,140 and a tax levy increase of $229,978 over the 2010 levy of $7,343,862, for a total increase of 3.13 percent. The total budget increased by 3.66 percent over 2010.

The 2011 budget includes more than $122,000 in cuts by various departments, which the council asked and mandatory increases in pensions, debt services, salaries and contributions to the Madison/Chatham Joint Meeting of more than $489,000, which make up 3.5 of the 3.66 percent increase from last year.

Kopin said during the March 14 meeting that the borough had exemptions from the state that would have allowed them to raise the tax levy up to 6.19 percent. By not raising the tax levy by the full amount allowable, the borough can place those funds aside in a bank cap and draw on it within the next three years if necessary.

Tax Levy 2010 Tax Levy 2011 Increase in $ Increase in % $7,343,862 $7,573,840 $229,978 3.13%

"Every year we have mandatory increases in our budget that we cannot escape," Kopin said. In 2011, these mandated changes amounted to a 3.5 percent increase since 2010 and constitute the bulk of the increase.

Budget Caps

Kopin said, "There are two caps that we work under in a municipal budget. there's first the approproations cap, which is 3.5 percent. That puts a cap on your expenditures."

The cap for budget appropriations is 3.5 percent, for an allowable maximum of $9,357,768. The borough's budget allows for an appropriations budget of $8,736,258, or $621,510 under what the cap allows.

"When you don't go to your maximum any given year, you have two years to use that in the following year if you need to," Kopin said. The $621,510 will be available for CAP banking and use in the next two years. "You can use that for mandatory increases," Kopin said.

Under the state-mandated tax levy cap of 2 percent, the borough could raise a maximum of $7,761,632. The actual amount they will raise by taxation in 2011 is $7,573,840, with a difference of $187,792 under the 2 percent tax cap.

"If we went to that maximum," Kopin said, "we would actually be at 6.19 percent increase in the tax rate rather than a 3.6. That's because there are exemptions added to that 2 percent property tax cap." The exemptions include increases in pensions, capital improvement fund payments and debt service payments.

Other Business

Also during Monday night’s meeting, Superintendent Jim O'Neill gave a presentation on the 2011-12 school budget. Borough residents pay 62.25 percent of their tax dollars to the district. O’Neill said under the new budget, taxes on a $700,000 home in the borough will go up $81 per year, or $6.75 a month.

In other business, council members:

  • Introduced an ordinance authorizing the funding of the borough’s portion of the cost of the installation of lighting at Shunpike Field. The ordinance appropriates $112,000 to be appropriated from the borough’s capital fund balance. The second reading and final passage of the ordinance will be held during the regular council meeting on May 9.
  • Discussed with Bill Nauta from the Morris County Office of Emergency Management the county’s new usage of Facebook and Twitter as a means of getting emergency messages out to residents. He showed a slide of a sample Twitter post that announced a road closing. Nauta said the county will be using Twitter and Facebook to announce road closings during the summer.

Council Member Victoria Fife, who was an active part of getting the borough’s website up and running, asked for consensus on the council to also have Facebook and Twitter pages for the borough to help increase the flow of communication between the borough council and residents.

“By putting ourselves out there this way, we increase our transparency and encourage people to talk to us, let us know their ideas, ask us their questions,” she said. “Between Facebook, Twitter and our website, we will help get the message out to the public about things that are going on in the borough, like single stream recycling, garbage pickup, all of those kinds of things.”

The board agreed to let Fife get the Facebook and Twitter pages set up.

  • Approved a proclamation honoring borough resident Lee Nordholm, who recently passed away. Nordholm was active in the community, the Chatham Community Players, the League of Women Voters and the Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit.
  • Appointed Timothy Caggiano as a new probationary firefighter for Engine Company #1.
  • Appointed Andrew Hollander to the Library Board of Trustees.
  • Approved an ordinance to appropriate $500,000 for various improvements to Shepard Kollock Park.
  • Approved a resolution to hold the Green Fair of the Chathams in Reasoner Park and the immediate surrounding area from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24.

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