Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Budget Has 2.9% Tax Hike

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Passaic Budget Has 2.9% Tax Hike

Article excerpt

With the year nearly half over, Passaic County has introduced a $448 million budget for 2014 that contains no new programs but raises the tax levy by $9 million.

The status quo budget introduced by the freeholders raises the tax levy from $310 million to $319 million, an increase of 2.9 percent. The increase in the tax levy is nearly one percentage point higher than the 2 percent cap on tax levies imposed by the state Legislature that took effect in 2011.

To avoid the 2 percent lid on taxpayer-supported spending, Passaic County's budget gurus shifted some line items outside the cap. Among those items were a $1 million increase in spending on capital improvements and a $3 million hike in debt service.

The accounting move, while legal, circumvents the 2 percent cap and is subject to the approval of the state Local Finance Board. A public hearing on the budget will be held on Tuesday during the next meeting of the Board of Freeholders.

The proposed budget raises county taxes by an average of $41. Six municipalities will see a decrease in the amount of tax revenue they send to the county: Bloomingdale, Hawthorne, Pompton Lakes, Totowa, West Milford and Haledon.

Passaic County Administrator Anthony J. DeNova said that after shifting some line items outside the cap, "we could have raised taxes another $4 million, but we didn't."

One new item plugging a hole in the 2014 budget is a $5 million rental payment from Stone Industries, which last month secured quarry rights to 25 acres of county-owned land off Oldham Road on the Wayne-Haledon border. The land is the site of Building No. 1 of the old Preakness Hospital complex and the Passaic County Juvenile Detention Center, both of which have been closed.

Last month, the freeholders approved a 20-year lease that calls for Stone Industries to demolish both buildings by July 1, 2015, to extend its quarry. …

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