A budget-trimming move recently announced from Trenton will likely have little effect on Secaucus’ municipal budget, local officials said last week.
Facing a $1 billion gap in the state budget, Gov. Jon Corzine announced last week that he would withhold $20.7 million earmarked for aid to municipalities throughout the state. This is money that had already been approved by the legislature and is part of the financial aid that municipalities had been receiving from the state. The $20.7 million would have been the final installment of these aid payments.
“This is going to affect everyone, but it’s going to affect some towns more than others,” said Matthew Weng, staff attorney for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. “Towns have already been told they’re going to get this money and they’re counting on it. They’ve already done their budgets assuming they’re going to get it.”
The town will lose a mere $23,000 as a result of Corzine’s cuts.
Secaucus, however, is in much better shape. The town will lose a mere $23,000 as a result of Corzine’s cuts.
“We don’t get a whole lot of state aid,” said Town Administrator David Drumeler, who described Trenton’s budget-trimming move as “inconvenient.” “So it will mean less to us than it will to other municipalities that are heavily reliant on state aid.”
Drumeler said the town would “skimp here and there” to make up for the $23,000 loss.
Other towns, Weng noted, would likely have to raise taxes, cut services, or do both.
Since Secaucus isn’t dependent on state aid, Drumeler said the town is looking to other revenue sources to shore up its budget next year.
Specifically, Secaucus hopes to generate cash from the hotel tax and from the new Edison parking lot that opened earlier this year at the Frank R. Launtenberg Rail Station. The town gets a small fee from every local hotel room that’s booked, and another fee from the parking lot.
“Next year, if the parking lot has a healthy year, our projections are $463,000 net, which would be substantial,” Drumeler said. “Revenue from the hotel tax was down this year by about $200,000 to $300,000. But last year we broke $2 million for the first time from the hotel tax.”
Earlier this year, the town expected to bring in about $1.8 million from the hotel tax, which the administrator now believes is an ambitious number.
Since hotels are beginning to see more customers again, Drumeler hopes hotel revenues will be back up in 2010 and 2011.
“Secaucus is lucky,” Weng said, “in that [the cuts] don’t affect them to a large extent.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.