Mayor and Council Anticipate 2013 Tax Increase Due to Unforseen Factors
Tentative tax increase due to unforseen expenses brought on by Hurricane Sandy and a 20 percent increase from the BCUA.
Emergency expenses incurred during Hurricane Sandy and a 20 percent increase handed down to Fort Lee by the Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) pushed the 2013 municipal budget from a near zero tax increase to a tentative tax increase of $127 on an average home of $465,000, according to Borough Auditor, Steve Wielkotz.
Wielkotz came before the Mayor and Council during their Executive Work Session Thursday to present preliminary budget numbers in anticipation of the formal introduction of the 2013 Municipal Budget to the public next week.
The mayor and council had anticipated an increase close to zero, especially since it had collected $1.1 million year-to-year in building permits for the development of the east and west parcels of Redevelopment Area 5.
However, due to the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, and the extensive power outage that it delivered, the borough had to allocate approximately $500,000 for emergency funds to cover costs, such as overtime. Although the borough will recover a percentage of those costs through FEMA, the payment schedule is slow.
Additionally, the BCUA hit Fort Lee with an increase of $760,000. According to Mayor Mark Sokolich, this represents the highest increase of any Bergen County town--20 percent over 2012.
Saying this was "outrageous," Sokolich informed the council that he is meeting with the BCUA to discuss this increase and has directed Borough Attorney Lee Cohen to OPRA documents so that they can determine the reason for the increase.
The Mayor and Council will formally introduce the 2013 Municipal Budget at their next public meeting--Thursday, March, 14 at 8pm in the Council Chambers of Borough Hall.