Before the vote, there will be a public hearing in which residents can make comments and give suggestions. "In the past, there were always residents there to ask questions," said Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell.
An average household in Secaucus, assessed at slightly less than $200,000, will see an increase of $95 per year in their municipal property taxes. Residents pay overall taxes to the municipality, schools, and county.
Elwell said that at the meeting, the town's chief financial officer, Margaret Barkala, as well as the town's auditors, will be there to answer any questions that residents may have regarding the budget and the proposed tax increase.
Although residents may have concerns about the budget, the meeting itself will serve largely to answer questions. There are very few exceptions that will change the budget.
One of those exceptions would be if a proposed grant is received by the entire Meadowlands district, a grant that Assemblyman Vincent Prieto is seeking, for $7.2 million in revenue sharing. If the grant comes in, then the budget will have to be re-adopted.
"The entire council has had the budget for almost a month. They can make recommendations," said Elwell. "I would have hoped the council would have done that in advance."
The budget is actually several months late, as it covers spending from this past January through next December.
The new budget of $40.06 million is up $1.36 million from last year's budget of $38.7 million.
The current tax rate is $10.46 per $1,000 of property owned, and the tentative new rate would be $11 per $1,000. The school and county rates are figured separately.
Town administrator Anthony Iacono said two weeks ago that the tax increase was unavoidable, not so much due to internal town spending, but due to pension increases for town workers as mandated by the state of New Jersey.
"If, after eight years, your municipal budget is only up $98, then we, as the town, did an excellent job," said Iacono.
Iacono said that the tax increase was due to factors that are "out of their hands." The amount required to pay for pensions for town workers increased by $430,000, Iacono said.
Mayor Dennis Elwell stressed at the last Town Council meeting that only 2 percent of the tax increase could be attributed to spending that is under the town's control.
This year's tax levy, or the amount of the $40.06 million budget to be paid for by property taxes, is a projected $27 million.
Even opponents favor it
The proposed budget had passed by a vote of 5-0 with two abstentions.
Third Ward Councilman/Deputy Mayor John Reilly and 2nd Ward Councilman Michael Gonnelli will be forced to abstain from voting on the budget because of perceived conflicts, but both gave their support of it during the budget's initial proposal on June 26.
Reilly and Gonnelli both hold volunteer positions with various groups that the town is affiliated with. Reilly volunteers at Liberty Health Center with which the town currently has an ambulance contract.
Gonnelli is a member of the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department as well as a member of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. A third reason for his inability to vote is due to current litigation between him and the town regarding his volunteer position on the Fire Department.
But both men, who are politically opposed to the mayor, said they support the budget.