Proposed Summit budget to jump 1 percent, includes new firehouse

Photo Courtesy of the City of Summit
A $1.5 million purchase of the property at 7 Cedar St. is included in the $52 million Summit municipal budget.

SUMMIT, NJ — Summit is looking at a $52 million budget, 1 percent higher than last year’s spending plan, and includes a down payment on a new $11.8 million firehouse and the purchase of the property at 7 Cedar St. that is part of the Broad Street West Development.

The budget, unveiled at the March 19 Summit Common Council meeting, includes an estimated municipal tax increase of 1 percent and comes in at $51,984,799, including the first-year outlays for a $16,755,500 capital budget, a more than 200-percent jump from the previous year.

The new firehouse will be located on Broad Street adjacent to the NJ Transit Parking Lot. Construction is slated to begin next year and is anticipated to take 18 months to complete.

The property at 7 Cedar Street — adjacent to the rear of the current firehouse — also adds to the budget increase, according to City Administrator Michael Rogers, who presented at the council meeting.

“This increase is really driven by these two-line items in our capital budget,” he told the council.
Rogers said that if the firehouse and Cedar Street property were removed from the budget, it would decrease by 2 percent compared to last year.

The city is expected to close on the $1.55 million commercial property by the end of April, according to Rogers, who said that acquiring the property will benefit the city when the Broad Street West Development begins.

“This is an important acquisition for the city in order to expedite the redevelopment of that area,” he said.
Summit’s tax base has increased by $9.8 million from 2018. The average residential net assessed property valuation is $417,500. Based on that, the estimated 2019 total tax bill, including proposed school and county tax portions, would be $18,482.73, an increase of $413.73, or more than 2 percent.

Summit’s effective tax rate is the lowest in Union County, according to Rogers. Roselle’s rate is the highest.
The council is set to vote on the 2019 budget at its April 23 meeting, which will also include a public hearing and comment portion.
“This budget is thinking about what happens not just this year, but many years down the road,” council President David Naidu said at the meeting.

Councilwoman Beth Little, who chairs the Finance Committee, said she feels it is a “responsible budget” and highlighted the construction of a new firehouse and the purchase of the Cedar Street property in her statements.

“I view these projects more as an investment in our future and they’re something that we’re certainly going to see return from,” she said.

Councilman Mike McTernan also weighed in, saying, “It’s expensive to live in New Jersey. It’s easy to provide services, but it’s not easy to provide services and do it in a fiscally responsible way. Consistently, the municipality has been able to keep its tax rate below the two percent cap for the last 10 years.”