Council, School Board Unveil Preliminary Budgets
Both sides discuss challenges they face as they try to find cash to maintain programs residents expect from city, schools.
The Summit Common Council and Board of Education held their annual joint meeting in council chambers to present their annual budgets and express
Council's Budget: City Administrator Chris Cotter handled the presentation for the council, warning that Summit faces challenges controlling property taxes to keep them within the 2 percent cap. Cotter said that a limit on raising revenue for the city “puts more stress on local budgets,” particularly affecting the city budget while residents' demands for services increase.
Council President Richard Madden said that 50 percent of the city's $123 million budget is used for Summit public schools.
BOE Budget: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nathan Parker led the presentation and outlined challenges faced by the BOE. Parker said the BOE is particularly concerned about:
- Overcrowding at the Franklin School, which had to convert a computer lab into a classroom to make room for students;
- The high-school auditorium remodeling project which is coming in over budget.
- Parker said that for the Summit school system to be on par with other exceptional public school system’s such as neighboring Millburn’s the issue of all-day kindergarten would have to be examined.
District business administrator Lou Pepe said the BOE has trimmed about $3.9 million through personnel reductions (a savings of $893,925) and changes in oil consumption for heating schools, among other measures.
Impact on residents: A preliminary tax increase on a home costing around $410,000 in Summit would be around $30.27 a year, but Pepe pointed out that the number could go up or down depending on the amount of state aid Summit receives from the state.
In other news:
Council held a regular meeting after the session with the BOE and rendered three decisions:
- The board voted 6-0 to authorize the sale of the youth center property on 2 Walnut Street. Councilman Drummond recused himself from the vote.
- A safety ordinance also was passed that would limit parking and remove a crosswalk at the Lincoln-Hubbard School, an initiative that was spearheaded by a task force set up by the school's PTO.
- Council passed finance-consent agenda item that sought to cancel the 2012 property tax for a local veteran who is 100 percent disabled. The consent item would cancel $11, 484.53 for a veteran who is claiming battlefield disability on a property bought 17 years ago. Madden, a former Marine, said the resident meets all the requirements for being deemed disabled.The proposal passed 6-1, with Councilman Tom Getzendanner casting the lone dissenting vote.