Local towns often have to wait several months to pass their budgets because they need to find out the amount of aid they are getting from the state.
On April 18, the City Council adopted the budget at a special meeting just one day after the city was informed that it would receive $8 million in supplemental state aid. The $8 million was necessary for the city to bridge the remaining gap in their budget and avoid raising taxes on a municipal level.
As a result, the municipal tax rate will stay at $25.47 per $1,000 of assessed property, which means a property owner will pay $2,547 in municipal taxes this year for a building they own assessed at $100,000.
The current overall tax rate for residents in Jersey City is $55.49 per $1,000, which also includes the county tax rate and the school tax. Those other taxes come from the county and school budgets.
City Business Administrator Brian O'Reilly said last week that the school tax levy portion of the overall tax rate will be increased by 31 cents as the result of city funding for schools increasing from $82 million to $86.1 million.
Also, the county tax levy portion is expected to increase by 25 cents.
While the Jersey City school system has passed its budget for next year, the county government is expected to pass its next budget by June.
The increases would have an impact on the quarterly tax bills going out on July 1, with the overall tax rate estimated to jump from $55.49 to $56.05.Earlier budget next year
O'Reilly said the other reason for this year's budget being so late was that the city had to wait for a $15 million payment from Honeywell International after the company settled a lawsuit with the city to bring about the cleanup of chromium on the city's west side.
O'Reilly said that he expects the 2008-2009 municipal budget to be introduced by September, and it will be adopted "much earlier than this year."
"Adoption of the budget has been historically late," O'Reilly said. "In the three prior years, I have introduced the budget in September, October, and November. Usually, we introduce the budget and fill it as we go along."
O'Reilly said receiving the $8 million in state aid will have some impact on how the next fiscal year's budget will be devised.
In order to qualify for and receive the $8 million for the current fiscal year, Jersey City had to sign a memorandum of understanding with the state's Department of Community Affairs (through its Division of Local Government Services) agreeing to various conditions, requirements, and restrictions. State now monitoring hiring
These include such things as a hiring and promotion freeze, with certain exceptions.
The hiring of new employees must have approval from the state.
There will also be a freeze on promotions and transfers involving salary increases, unless required by contractual obligations or unless the promotion/transfer results in no increased cost to the city.
And the city must submit to the state detailed monthly revenue and expenditure budget reports, and copies of budget transfer resolutions.
O'Reilly said that the city will consider hires only for revenue-producing city positions, and public safety jobs such as police and fire. Urge to merge
Also, the city will consider merging several city departments including the Department of Finance with the Department of Business Administration, and the Division of Engineering with the Division of Traffic and Transportation Maintenance.
O'Reilly said these mergers, which have been discussed with the state, will save the city money as jobs will be scaled down and employees are trained to take on additional responsibilities.
O'Reilly said the mergers are being considered because the city may not be so lucky in the next fiscal year to get another $8 million in state aid.
The merger plan is scheduled to be introduced to the City Council for possible approval in either May or June. Comments on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.