East Orange, NJ, April 28, 2020: Mayor Ted R. Green introduced his administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020 during the East Orange City Council’s Virtual Meeting held on Monday, April 27, 2020.
“As you can imagine, this is not how we planned on entering the Fiscal Year 2020,” said Mayor Green. “Since March 16, when we first decided to close our doors to the public, we’ve had to make significant modifications on how we conduct business. Inevitably, during this crisis, we’ve had to suspend some programs and adjust how we execute others. It hasn’t been easy, but I want to commend my team for rolling up their sleeves, and working diligently and creatively to get the job done.”
Mayor Green’s proposed budget is approximately $151 million, or $1.2 million less than 2019. That means that the average homeowner should see an increase in the municipal tax portion of their tax bill of only $9.44 for the entire year, or just under $.80 a month. The proposed budget increases the municipal tax rate by only .35 per cent per $100 of assessed value.
Last year, the average tax increase totaled nearly $50 more for the year.
“This is the one time when going backwards is a very good thing,” said Mayor Green. “This increase is remarkably minimal in spite of a substantial decrease in the ratable value of assessed properties and despite having to use an additional $100,000 in funds for the Health Department to fight COVID-19.”
Mayor Green assured the council that he was very confident in his administration’s ability to exercise strict fiscal discipline to support the community’s needs even if there is a potential loss of millions in revenue.
“Our number one priority is to keep the community safe and clean. We can accomplish this goal by cohesive and strategic coordination between our Departments of Health and Human Services, Public Works and Public Safety,” he added.
Municipal departments and employees have had to shift their traditional tasks to address the city’s changing needs such as:
- Increasing remote access to city services
- Expanding food distribution services
- Preparing for post-crisis recreational activities
- Ongoing community health testing and monitoring
- Procuring additional public safety personnel and equipment
With both the state and city’s economic outlook uncertain, Mayor Green charged his team, led by Chief Financial Officer Juan Uribe and Business Administrator Solomon Steplight, to craft a budget that preserves the city’s ability to meet constituent needs without compromising the quality of services provided.
According to Mayor Green, the fiscal efficiency implemented in 2019 will pay off, allowing the city to offset some of the unanticipated costs incurred in 2020.
Some revenue highlights from 2019 include:
- More than $800,000 from interest collected on investments and deposits compared to only $40,000 collected annually over the past several years.
- Code Enforcement increased court revenue by nearly 167%. In 2019, inspectors issued violation notices and summonses that resulted in nearly $1.9 in revenue.
- Secured $1 million from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to improve Brick Church and East Orange train stations
- More than $1 billion of private capital investment, which includes 4,000 residential units (nearly 20% set aside as affordable)
- Grants doubled in two years from over $6 million to more than $12.2 million
Mayor Green ended his budget introduction by thanking his team for taking on the hard task of balancing the fiscal well-being of the city with best serving the needs of our citizens.
“This budget for Fiscal Year 2020 represents my administration’s commitment to stabilize taxes and serve the best interests of our community during periods of both prosperity and crisis,” said Mayor Green. “I urge the East Orange City Council to pass the proposed budget as quickly as possible so we can begin building a solid recovery and relief plan in the wake of this pandemic.”