Cedar Grove Continues to Outline Budget

Township Manager Tom Tucci completes presentation, but the process is just beginning.

Cedar Grove Township Manager Tom Tucci and the township council continued to outline the 2013 budget Tuesday night with the remaining departments from Monday's hearing.

The hearing continued with budgeting for municipal court, engineering, ambulance and rescue squad, police and fire departments, along with several public works items.

According to Tucci, public safety is the largest single portion of the municipal budget, which is made up of police and fire appropriation requests.

The 2013 budget calls for $3,891,337 for the police department, an increase of $108,902 from 2012.

Part of the additional funds will be used for two new police Ford Interceptor SUV's. The new vehicles will be used to replace the department's old Ford Crown Victorias and enable police to traverse roads in all kinds of weather.

A new Ford Interceptor will also be purchased for the building department, which will also be able to double as a police vehicle in case of emergencies or poor road conditions.

The new budget shows a large difference between capital improvements from 2012 to 2013. Last year, the council budgeted $529,3000 for capital improvements. This year, the budget calls for $4,005,000 for capital improvements, a difference of almost $3.5 million.

This year, the town will be working on various projects including a $2.2 million restoration of Panther Park, which will add a lighted football, soccer and lacrosse field with stands, a walking and running track and concession stands and bathrooms.

Tucci wrapped up his appropriation side of the budget hearing, but the process is far from over.

“The finance director will be doing the revenue side of the budget in finalizing and closing out the year 2012 and letting us know what the surpluses are,” he said. “Sometime in late February we will be striking the tax rate and bringing that back to the council for review.”

The township will then need to introduce the budget and hold a public hearing allowing members of the public to voice their opinions on the proposed budget. The budget is then sent to the state for approval before coming back to the council for a vote.

However, the council cannot pass the budget until the state budget has passed.

It could take some time for the state to get its affairs in order after Hurricane Sandy, said Tucci.

The 2013 budget does not yet have a total, but it can be expected to be within two percent of last year's $12,524,503 budget, he revealed.

On Monday night the council covered recreation, finance, tax collector and assessor, council, manager, clerk, library, health department, public buildings and other areas.

Tucci praised the efforts of township officials for keeping Cedar Grove's municipal tax rate the lowest in Essex County, which council members again alluded to during Tuesday's hearing.

“We should be proud that we have the lowest tax rate in Essex County and that really goes hand in hand with the budget process,” said Councilman Joseph Chiusolo. “I'd like to see us work further in hopefully reducing some of the line items here.”


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