The North Bergen Board of Commissioners unanimously approved (5-0) a $88.4 million budget that will come with a roughly two percent tax increase, or an increase of $75 per homeowner, at this morning’s meeting.
“So we stayed within the cost of living for, since I think 1994 or 1991, I’m not really sure?” North Bergen Mayor/state Senator (D-32) Nick Sacco asked township Chief Financial Officer Robert Pittfield.
“That, plus also the tax levy cap that the state demands,” Pittfield responded.
According to a copy of the budget, the township is $1,587,222 under the tax levy cap, the second year in a row they are over a million dollars below the state mandated figure that varies by municipality.
After a brief discussion inside the first floor court chambers, Sacco and Pittfield agreed that a two to three percent tax increase is common these days given the cost of living.
Speaking with Hudson County View, Pittfield added that township’s PILOT and surplus numbers are also up, also noting that a seven percent increase for health insurance and decreasing the membership fees for the township pool by 25 percent all made a notable impact on the final adopted budget.
In calendar year 2016, North Bergen is expected to earn $2,727,000 in tax PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) revenues, with the township also earning $1,295,623 in excess revenues in 2015 – according to the released budget.
Specifically, Pittfield attributed the tax increase to health benefits, gasoline and utility prices – all of which have gone up significantly.
Sacco, who said that healthcare insurance spike ended up totaling $1.7 million, added that he feels “the level of service” in North Bergen remains stable – citing projects such as the Bruins Stadium repairs, which includes returfing the track, increased library services and the aforementioned decreased pool rates as examples.
Furthermore, Sacco expressed his frustration with having to balance the budget with a modest state aid figure that hasn’t increased since 2011.
“We’re doing it without the state aid we should be getting. There’s no reason why North Bergen was receiving about $13.7 million in 2006 and since 2011 were at 7 … million 6 (7.6 million) I think it is, but it’s flat across the board,” he explained.
“We don’t go up a penny, the cost of living keeps going up and we don’t go up, we just stay flat, and that makes it very difficult to maintain things.”
A full copy of the adopted budget can be viewed here.