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2013 Municipal Budget Approved, $127 Increase on Average Home

Mayor and Council unanimously approve 2013 Municipal Budget.

The 2013 Municipal Budget was unanimously approved at Thursday's Mayor and Council meeting. The budget calls for an estimated tax increase of $127 on an average home of $465,000. Total general appropriations are $71,728,194.09. 

During the budget introduction in March, Borough Auditor Steve Wielkotz explained that the tax increase would have been close to 'zero' were it not for the over $500,000 in emergency expenditures during Hurricane Sandy, and the 19 percent increase from the Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA), an increase, Mayor Mark Sokolich said, the town is vigorously opposing. The bill that the BCUA handed the town is $760,000. According to Sokolich, this represents the highest increase of any Bergen County town and the borough is fighting it.

Wielkotz said that of the $3.9 million surplus from 2012 (primarily from construction fees) $2.9 million has been transferred into the 2013 budget. According to both Wielkotz and Sokolich, the Borough will work to replenish that $2.9 million to use towards the 2014 budget, if needed.  

The Council also passed the ordinance establishing a CAP Bank during Thursday's meeting. Local governments can circumvent the 2 percent cap on municipal budget increases if an ordinance is adopted establishing a "cap" bank. The passage of the ordinance permits the governing body, in certain situations, to increase its budget in an amount not to exceed 3.5 percent of the preceding year’s appropriations level.

When the ordinance was introduced in March, Wielkotz said that by passing the ordinance, the borough is acting to preserve its CAP Bank for future years in case it is needed.  

"This budget is over $3.8 million under our appropriations cap. With CAP Banks from previous years we're $7 million under the 2 percent tax levy cap," Wielkotz said during the March introduction.  

"We're under both caps by a lot and we approved the ordinance to preserve that CAP Bank for future years in case the borough runs into a situation where it needs it," he said.

 

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Keith Jensen April 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM
8.15% Property Tax Increase for Fort Lee. Disguised by the Mayor, Council and Board of Education as separate tax increases: Municipal increase of 3.5% and Board of Education's raise of 4.65%. Adding these together = 8.15% increase in taxes. Hidden by everyone, even reporters don't lump these taxes together as that is how they are collected. For those readers new to how property taxes are added up, it includes both the school budget and the municipal budget. If you rent and don't feel you need to worry about property taxes increasing, think again as landlords will pass it on in the form of rent increases. While I have given the silver bullet many times to the Mayor&Council on how to voice a desire to fix the conundrum we are in, it falls on deaf ears. Now, the new Board of Education needs to re-ratify the last boards unanimous approval of this statement.Mayor says "school boards have no control". Why does he remain silent on helping them? My request is still completely relevant: http://fortlee.patch.com/articles/fort-lee-republican-state-assembly-candidate-pushes-for-fair-school-funding Debt restructuring is what our elected officials are most proud of for their new budgets. What that means, is they took advantage of the low interest rates and refinanced our debt, concurrently adding to this debt. Hardly a reason to say bravo considering there were no cuts made; in fact, payroll costs have only risen. Fort Lee will have an 8.15% property tax increase.
Keith Jensen April 12, 2013 at 11:23 AM
A unanimous approval, should we be surprised? When was the last time this Council voted on anything other than unanimously, and don't count when they abstain because of their business interests in projects in need of a certain vote. While I think highly of our new Editor, Ms. Piccirillo as an active member of our community whose family has important positions in town, I am concerned that the reporting is not on par of what Eric Wander provided. Ann, I would ask you to cover please cover the dissenting opinion of the public, or even those that agree, because that is where the stay at home readers will truly understand the position of our elected representatives. This meeting ended at 9pm. I came out of my way from the other side of the County, and arrived an hour after it began as the gavel dropped to close the session, only to find they did not allow the public to ask the questions to clear up the cloaked budget that they unanimously approved. Many Mayor and Council meetings go past 10pm because of its importance. This is a $70Million budget. Even our own partisan Congress and Assembly does not vote in absolute, yet our budget was done so in a manner without allowing public questioning, and I am let down that the Editor did not point that out.
Rona April 12, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Been in town 45 years. I've never seen rates reduced. Thank you council for continuing to give in to union demands & reckless spending on the community center, land acquisitions for the Lemoine Avenue project, and the ever increasing population burden the town is incurring by allowing duplexes on single family lots without impact fees. I'd love to be a developer in this town! And the explosion in children attending our over crowded broken down schools. Time for a serious revaluation in the town's expenses. How I wish I knew. It really seems to be a problem of O.P.M. (other people's money) give someone authority & fiscal responsibility goes out the door.
Arthur April 13, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Rona, Yes, Fort Lee is a mess with reckless spending, hopefully the people are waking up. Fort Lee has a spending problem and a do nothing about it Mayor and Council. They belong in Washington, spend spend spend, who cares about the tax payers !!!!
Jack B Goode April 13, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Squandering our tax money on another "Main Street Improvement " plan and consultant, We have spent millions over the years, has Main Street improved?Building monuments for events that happened in other countries, having 2 separate Departments to handle the Summer Entertainment Program, overpaying the Borough Attorney and Borough Administrator, paying overtime and benefits to non-productive employees, etc. to name a few
Rona April 14, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Forgot about non-productive employees. Isn't that known as the Friends & Family plan?
Fort Lee Truth April 15, 2013 at 05:37 PM
I do agree that "dissenting opinion" is lacking in the articles. I like to hear both sides of the story. It could be a citizen at the Council meeting or someone who is watching the meetings on TV. Having said that, the best way to get a dissenting opinion is to get a non-Democrat on the Council. For the past two decades, the Republican party has been non-existant in the borough. I'm sure the editor does not have time to chase down folks who were not at the meetings.
Rona April 15, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Take a lesson Fort Lee read the following article. http://www.northjersey.com/news/201510501_Alpine_s_preliminary_budget_calls_for__50_increase_for_homes_valued_at__2_5_million.html
Steven Zhu July 07, 2013 at 10:18 PM
we all know Fort Lee Bourough office is more corrupted than communist Chinese gov offices. What can we do and how can we do something to get it corrected?

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