A 5 year review of past taxes show a 15% average of tax hikes

Historic Caldwell Budget - Zero Percent Tax Hike for Residents

Your Tax Estimate does NOT YET reflect this zero percent tax

Making history in caldwell, members of the council and Mayor Ann Dassing offered a zero percent tax hike for 2011 budget.
Diane Lilli

The power point 2011 financial presentation was a layman’s version of how the governing body worked to achieve the zero percent tax levy. Borough administrator Paul Carelli presented the information that highlighted the numerous steps the governing body took in order to achieve the zero percent tax levy -without one layoff.

As Caldwell council president Peter Murray succinctly said, referring to the zero percent municipal tax, “This proves you can run a town like a business.” Before the now all-Republican council had taken over the Caldwell council, the Democrat candidates that ran against both Murray and Rich Hauser had criticized the Republicans for trying to “run the town like a business”.

Now, 2 years later, the prophecy of the candidates who lost in the election at the time came true - but in a positive way, since the zero percent budget beats every budget over the past budgets of at least a decade, and probably many more. Carelli displayed a chart that clearly showed tax rates that rose higher and higher until the past 2 years, when it dropped down significantly, in spite of dramatic state aid cuts and exponential health and pension care costs (details for this chart tomorrow).

The 2011 Caldwell budget reflects a 4 percent decrease from the 2010 Caldwell budget, a notable achievement since pension and health costs have increased throughout the nation. But ,as Carelli noted, it took a complex and multi-tiered strategy by council president Murray and Chair of finance committee Tom O’Donnell to drive the budget down.And, as O'Donnell noted (see video, below) the installation of a professional borough administrator, a CFO and the groundwork councilor Joe Norton created for the borough budget all helped to create this historic budget.

In a show of unity, both O’Donnell and his fellow councilman John Coyle, who sit at either end of the council table, wore light blue shirts with identical yellow ties, reflecting their stand as strong supporters of the council and one another. Their solidarity was shared by the entire council and Mayor.

At the meeting, James Jorgensen, the Essex County liaison, congratulated the council.

"You all made great contributions, especially Paul Carelli, council president Peter Murray and Tom O'Donnell. Your constituents should be celebrating because not very many other towns are going to be able to do what you've done as successfully in their budgets."

Notably absent from the meeting were the two Democrat candidates that are running for the 2 open council seats, an absence noted by all including the borough lawyer Greg Mascera, who noted that this public meeting about the budget was a direct response to a criticism a candidate had made a few weeks ago, when the council deliberated in executive session about contractual and union negotiations instead of in public due to the laws forbidding such discussions in open council session.

Some of the cost savings include:
--Police Overtime was $165,212 in 2009; $112,369 in 2010, which reflects a 32% reduction in costs. For 2011, the goal is $100,000.
--Board of Health: Now there will be a 4 percent reduction if the board of health contract with Bloomfield.
--New PBA agreement: this is a 3 Year contract, which was reached without costly arbitration due to negotiations between the council, notably Murray, and the PBA. The Borough will be entering the NJ State Health Benefits Plan
--Copier Leases: By eliminating printers and toners the borough saved a whopping $10,000.
--Dispatch agreement: This joint shared agreement with West Caldwell for dispatch reduced costs by 29.8 percent, saving $125,000.
--Shared Recreation agreement with West Caldwell: The new agreement saves big money and is a long standing agreement, from 2012-2020. this agrement is for a $400,000 per year decrease in costs with West Caldwell, reflecting a 11.4 percent reduction.
--Joint Insurance for Muncipalities (JIF) is now being reduced 6.7 percent

Also interesting to note is that the state aid dropped a whopping 52.2 percent to the borough over the past 5 years.
Meanwhile pension contributions have gone up 24.2 percent.

Here is an overview of the power point presentation. To see the entire budget, check here tomorrow or go to the Caldwell website.

Tax analysis and review:
Looking back over 2010, Carelli showed a final tax bill, with the average residential home at value of $432,734 the average tax was $9,715.00.
For the 2011 tax bill there is a separate line for the library tax, showing the minimum of a third of a mill which is about .036 rate per hundred, or about $154 cost for an for average home in Caldwell.

IN 2010, the average muncipal tax for the average home (value of $432,734) was $2,942. Here is a breakdown by percentage of each part of your tax bill:
2010 breakdown of your taxes:
$2,942 av res tax - 30% of your tax bill
County av $2,865 - 20% of your tax bill
School portion $4,790 - 49.3 % of your tax bill

NJ State Pension Contribuitions: this cost has gone up 24.2 percent over the past 5 years. For example, in 2009 the cost was $198,000 in the Caldwell budget but now stands at $679,000.
For 2011 the increase is 24.2 percent, which is an $12,583 increase in cost.

As per your estimated tax bill, the budget has not been adopted yet so don't panic. It WILL come down, according to the council and since the budget for New Jersey and the municipality has not been approved yet, only introduced and now, amended to reflect a zero percent tax.
Under the law the town must continue to collect revenue until budget is finalized and then your taxes will be reimbursed in your 4th quarter tax bill.



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