Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Council Update - 4/13/10

Regional Board of Education Update.

Last Evening's Town Council Workshop was jam packed. We were first given an update on the Regional Board of Education. The superintendent of Morris Knolls Regional High School, James Jencarelli, discussed the proposed budget. If passed on April 20th, it would result in about a $66 increase per the average Denville home per year. As with most Boards of Education in the state, there were massive cuts of state funding which then resulted in cuts made by the Regional Board. More information can be found at the Regional Board of Ed website.

The Highlands Council

Eileen Swan, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highland Council. This was a very informative presentation. Denville will have a very big decision to make about whether to opt into a regional plan for development and environmental protection. This was the first time this new council was presented to by the Executive Director. By June 8th the Council will have to make a decision on opting into the plan in order to determine our affordable housing requirements. However, we can still opt out at any time. I still remain very open, yet noncommittal to whether or not we opt into the plan and am anxious to see what develops with affordable housing requirements in New Jersey. Currently there are many bills introduced at the state level regarding the Council on Affordable housing. The outcome of these bills will help the decision.

Ordinance Review.

Last evening the Town Council had a lengthy discussion and presentation on light ordinances, sign ordinances and property maintenance ordinances. It was agreed that the Township Planner, Engineer and Health Officer will review and recommend back to the Town Council how we can tighten up and strengthen these ordinances to keep from excessive light pollution and unkempt properties.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Introducing the Budget

At this Tuesday's Town Council Meeting. The Council will introduce the budget prepared by the Mayor and Administration.

The municipal budget makes up 18% of your Denville Property Tax Dollar. The rest of your tax dollar goes to The Regional Board of Education, the Local Board of Education, Morris County Tax and Open Space taxes. While Municipal taxes are a smaller share of the overall tax pie, I still believe in being conservative and cost conscious.

This budget has been a roller coaster ride. Upon first preparation, the Administrator was looking at about $100 increase on the average home. After further work the Administrator and Mayor reduced it to about $70. The council continued to work with the budget during our workshops. Eventually we got the budget down to about $17 for the average household. This was truly a great accomplishment and something I think the whole council supported. However 3 weeks ago, we received word that massive State funding was cut. This immediately erased our hard work and propelled the average cost to about $80 per house. We have continued to work hard and this Tuesday will introduce a budget with a cost increase somewhere in between $50-$60. While I am not thrilled with this, I do realize that many factors, mandates and other things outside our immediate control are affecting this.

In the next several months the Council will partake in workshops aimed at cost savings and efficiencies. Some of these ideas represent new thinking for government. We will look at township vehicles, shared services, new models for town revenue outside of burdening the tax payer and much more. This undoubtedly will help our municipality save in years to come.

When elected to council, someone said to me - "this is not going to be easy". There is no doubt the economy and the buildup of issues this council has inherited are tasking. However, I believe we are now headed in the right direction.