In a recent meeting, the Saddle Brook Town Council faced the challenging financial landscape of the coming year, passing the 2023 municipal budget unanimously amidst rising costs and increased community needs.
At the heart of the meeting was a presentation from Township auditor Steve Wilcox, who outlined the proposed budget for 2023 and the pressing factors contributing to a tax increase. The rise in costs across sectors, including solid waste recycling, insurance premiums, pensions, and international salaries, and a significant hike in temporary financing interest from half a percent to four and a half percent are among the drivers of the tax hike. Wilcox noted that these changes result from measures by the Federal Reserve to control inflation.
Despite these financial pressures, the council was praised for its fiscal management. Key to its success was the operation of a new municipal building with minimal impact on the budget. Notably, the council was able to increase the town’s surplus by $900,000, offsetting the budget’s revenue loss with these surplus funds.
Community members can anticipate a municipal tax increase slightly higher than previous years, estimated at $185 on the average residential assessment of $434,583. Wilcox clarified that residents will initially receive estimated tax bills due to a delay in printing the final tax bills, saying this approach is “simply a cash flow issue.”
Infrastructure was another focal point of the meeting, with Public Service Gas and Electric slated to begin replacement of the town’s gas main on June 26th. The council also shared a list of several streets designated for upcoming roadwork as part of the town’s paving program.
In terms of local ordinances, the council introduced three new measures designed to improve community safety and aesthetic: Property maintenance fines will increase, a “no right on red” rule will be implemented at the town hall extension, and property maintenance violations must now be addressed prior to the issuance of occupancy certificates.
In addition to fiscal matters and infrastructure, the council highlighted community engagement and education initiatives. Among these is the upcoming junior Police Academy program for students entering eighth grade in September 2023. The program, scheduled from August 14th to 18th, will focus on physical fitness, discipline, courtesy, and respect.
Finally, the council praised the turnout for the car show hosted by the American Cruisers Car Club, which raised funds for the local ambulance corps, and expressed support for including the Challenger program, a sports initiative for individuals with special needs, in future funding considerations.