Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Budget Deadline Looms

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Budget Deadline Looms

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- City officials are scrambling to get a budget plan passed in time for a deadline to apply for millions in state aid.

An emergency meeting was called for Thursday at 8 p.m., a day ahead of the state's deadline to apply for transitional aid. The city missed a deadline last Friday to approve a budget plan because there wasn't enough support on the City Council to pass it, and was granted a one-week extension. State officials have asked the city to have the budget approved a day earlier.

The budget proposed last week was a $235 million plan that carried an 11.5 percent tax increase opposed by some council members. But as a preliminary budget, it is a starting point and the council is able to change it before a final version is adopted, said Budget Officer Russell Forenza.

"I believe we will meet that deadline," Forenza said.

State officials will determine the next step if the budget doesn't pass.

"The Division [of Community Affairs] will deal with that if it arises," spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said. "We are reasonable where there is good faith and reasonable explanations for delay."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Governor Christie put pressure on another New Jersey city to cut spending as a precondition to getting state aid. Newark officials had asked for $24 million, but Christie rejected the request. He said he is willing to give a state subsidy in some form, but only if the city finds cuts in its 2012 spending plan -- now nine months overdue.

"I'm not willing to pay a nickel more than I have to on behalf of the state taxpayers," he said Tuesday.

Last month, the governor dismissed a Paterson councilman's appeal for more aid, saying the city wouldn't get more aid until it made strides to improve its fiscal management. The council voted down that resolution.

Five council members need to vote in favor of the budget for it to pass, but the plan mustered only four votes last week. …

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