Proposed Roselle budget would increase taxes $15 per home

Photo by Rebecca Panico
Taxes would increase by about $15 for an average home in Roselle under a proposed $32 million budget.

ROSELLE, NJ —  The borough council introduced on April 25 a preliminary $32 million budget, which could result in a $15 increase for a local home assessed at $140,000.

The proposed tax levy would be a .12 percent increase over last year, said Chief Financial Officer Judith Curran. Overall, the budget rose by about $3,800 this year.

The council also voted to establish a “cap bank” of $326,000 that can be used over the next two years. A cap bank is an accounting measure that enables municipalities to avoid strict adherence to annual state-legislated budget appropriation limits.
“Thanks to this finance committee, we did a wonderful, wonderful job,” Council President Reginald Atkins said at the meeting. “And I just want to say thank you for your diligence and your hard work.”

Public safety expenses — which includes the police and fire departments — could see an increase this year. There are currently 53 police officers in the department, Councilman Samuel Bishop said. The borough is looking to increase that number to 56 soon and possibly 59 in the future.

Curran said the increase costs includes promotions within the police department. Four police officers were promoted in February, according to a press release from the borough.

The budget increased by about $72,000 in salaries for the police department, while fire department wages rose by about $74,000.
A $30,000 interlocal municipal services agreement for a public relations position with the board of education was nixed in this year’s budget, too. Councilwoman Denise Wilkerson asked if that money could be used to give the mayor an assistant.

The CFO explained that there was some leeway in the budget to hire someone, but the position would first have to be created by the borough council.

The borough has a weak mayor-strong council system of government, and the mayor was not in attendance at the the April 25 meeting since she was at a conference.

Other council members, meanwhile, praised the CFO and borough attorney Karen Brown for their work on the budget. Bishop, the 5th Ward councilman, called the budget “something we could be proud of.”

“Karen, we’ve never had — since I’ve been sitting up here — the level of communication. You know, we really appreciate that, and also the depth of understanding. It’s been very refreshing.”

A public hearing for the budget is scheduled for May 30 at 7 p.m. in borough hall.