The City of Summit introduced a $42.4 million dollar budget at Tuesday evening’s council meeting, calling for a $9.25 raise in the average Summit homeowner’s tax bill.
Also on the agenda was the city’s intent to spend $95,000 to settle the Passaic River pollution litigation in which Summit and 11 other municipalities are involved.
According to the Council President Richard Madden, the average assessment for a home in Summit is $410,000.
“The Finance committee has been able to really knock the budget down,” Madden said. “And we increased some areas we felt important.”
One of the largest increases in the budget is $100,000 for technology support, while other smaller increases include items such as equipment requested by the Summit Fire Department, City Administrator Chris Cotter said.
Overall, with the increases and reductions made to the budget from the prior year the city was able to reduce $30,000 in the operating budget, Cotter added.
Additional services and changes proposed for 2013 include increases in contract tree pruning, curbside recycling expenses, part-time staffing and a program supervisor for community programs.
In the public safety category, the budget proposes police vehicle replacement, ticketing and scheduling software.
Cotter also pointed out that the library would see a statuary funding decrease of $32,364.
A public hearing is scheduled to discuss the proposed budget on April 16.
Also introduced at the council meeting was the proposed capital improvement plan for the city from 2013 to 2018.
This plan is projected to cost nearly $10.4 million for projects within the city as well as an additional $3 million for parking and sewer utility projects.
Some of those projects include:
- $3 million for a revamp of the recreation center, with $600,000 of the total to come from last year’s sale of city-owned property at 2 Walnut Street.
- $3.4 million for infrastructure improvements, it was noted that some of the improvements may be funded by New Jersey Department of Transportation grants.
- $2 million towards the cost of the joint dispatch center with New Providence, it was noted $1.6 million has already been funded by a federal grant.
- $937,000 towards the joint contribution made to the sewer utility.
- $240,000 for numerous projects with the police department, including updating video equipment in patrol cars, purchasing a utility vehicle for equipment, upgrading security equipment at the police department and generators for traffic signals during power outages
- $95,000 for both a study and design plan for establishing a new headquarters for the fire department.
Additionally, an investment will be made over the years between 2013 and 2018 to upgrade computer workstations at the library and parking lots and garages will be improved and maintained.
Another big issue on the agenda at the Tuesday evening meeting was the city of Summit’s decision to spend $95,000 to settle a lawsuit that Summit and 11 other towns were brought into years ago due to pollution in the Passaic River.
Councilman Robert Rubino said basically paying the $95,000 is stopping the bleeding and saving the taxpayers in the long run. He added that it is unfortunate that municipalities were ever brought into the lawsuit in the first place and the “spirit of the law” is not being respected.
Madded added that this could have been a 10 to 20 billion dollar lawsuit down the line.
“It is a positive outcome,” Councilman Patrick Hurley said. “Looking at last year this could’ve bankrupted the city and all the municipalities involved.”
City Solicitor Thomas Scrivo said much of the lawsuit is confidential right now but the city and additional municipalities will be taking this to court on March 26th.
“We’re making the best of a bad situation,” Scrivo said.