West New York is on the right track
I am writing to you with wonderful news for our community. The State of New Jersey gave West New York a strong vote of confidence by ending state supervision of town finances last month. The town commissioners and I are very proud to see the state of New Jersey recognize our efforts on behalf of taxpayers and good government.
Over the past 18 months, West New York has seen many changes in the way we do business. A new financial team dedicated to getting our community back on firm financial footing was put in place. I speak for all of the town commissioners when I say we are proud of the work of our new financial team. They have been essential to this transition process, and in that time have helped us do the following:
• Close an $8 million budget deficit that was building up for years
• Cut spending by over $1 million
• Cut the number of town payroll jobs by 25 percent
• Save over $2 million on insurance costs
• Keep property taxes frozen for 18 months
When I became your mayor three years ago, there were about 400 town employees. Now there are about 300. Almost 100 town jobs have been eliminated through a hiring freeze, retirements, and layoffs. That was a very difficult thing to do, but we had no choice. The money just wasn’t there.
Part of the cost savings came from top paying supervisory positions within the police department. We were able to phase out these positions, reducing the burden on the taxpayer while keeping the manpower needed on the streets to keep our community safe and avoiding police layoffs.
However, local finances are still under great pressure because of the loss of state aid. The governor’s budget creates real problems for every town in New Jersey. West New York is facing the loss of several million dollars in state funding for our school system, our Urban Enterprise Zone, and our town budget. Understanding this will be a team effort, we are working closely with our school administrators to make sure we hold the line on taxes, while not interrupting the essential instruction taking place in our classrooms.
The Board of Commissioners and I are determined to hold the line on property taxes despite the state aid cuts. It is a very difficult road to travel, but at least we now have a top-notch finance team and a sound financial plan on board to help us. Keeping property taxes under control and our town safe and clean will always be our highest priorities. Commissioners Fernandez-Lopez, Lange, Riccardi, Rodriguez, and I are committed to this plan and looking forward to its results.
I want to recognize and thank the commissioners, administration officials, and various town departments for working so hard. We are aware of the hardships West New York is facing and are making the tough decisions we need to provide relief and keep our town on firm ground through innovative and creative means. Thank you for your patience and understanding during these very difficult financial times.