Newark has had surplus for two years in a row;
Mayor Ras J. Baraka submitted the Newark budget for 2017 to the Newark Municipal Council today and announced that he anticipates that this will be the last one prepared under state supervision because the City has completed the last two years under state supervision with a healthy surplus. Newark has been using the surplus to pay down the $50 million deficit he inherited and many unpaid bills.
The budget also includes funding for 200 additional police officers, repaving additional streets, and expansion of Riverbank Park.
Statement by Mayor Ras J. Baraka:
“I am pleased to announce that we anticipate that this budget will be the last one prepared under state supervision.
“This is because the City has completed the last two years under state supervision with a healthy surplus. We have been using the surplus to pay down the debts we inherited when we took office. We are whittling down a fifty-million-dollar deficit and a myriad of unpaid bills.
“Although the City has been reducing its workforce over the last decade, this budget commits funding to hire 200 police officers who are enrolled in the State’s police academy and will start training August 1. Additionally, to further my commitment to strengthening neighborhoods, this budget also provides funding for five additional property code enforcement officers.
“This budget includes many state and federal grants that we applied for and won. I am pleased to announce that it includes $3.3 million dollars we received from a highly competitive State grant that will permit us to repave an additional 15 streets, three in each ward. This is on top of the 280 street re-pavings that we announced earlier this year. It also includes a State Green Acres grant that will enable the purchase of 13 properties along the Passaic River to expand Riverfront Park to the Lower Broadway Landing segment.
“The City’s ability to collect taxes, the city’s tax collection rate, has inched up for the third year in a row. This is good news for property owners in general. The higher the City’s collection rate the more equally taxes are distributed across all property owners.
“Certain items having a significant impact on the City’s budget this year include rising health care costs and several obstacles left from the prior administration, including $2 million for funding a federal Monitor for the City’s Police Department, several million dollars in unsettled labor contracts and nearly $2 million to cleanup an unlicensed transfer station.
“Despite these obstacles, we have been able to keep the amount to be raised by taxation, for municipal purposes, below 2 percent. As introduced the amount is 1.7 percent over the prior year. The average tax bill, for municipal purposes, will show a slight increase of $83.
“The amount to be raised for school purposes was approved by the Board of Education earlier in the year, increasing the amount to be raised by $7,151,627 or 5.8 percent. With the final passage of the State budget last week, and the revised school funding formula approved as part of that process, the BOE will realize $4,469,921 more than anticipated. I am asking the School Board to reduce the school budget by this same amount, bringing the amount to be raised for school purposes down to 2.18 percent over the previous year. The net result is a $32 savings annually to homeowners with an average tax bill.
“The municipal budget process, as in most urban municipalities, is stretched by competing demands. My focus has always been to promote healthy and safe neighborhoods, while at the same time demanding jobs for our residents, promoting education and summer jobs for our kids and long-term growth for our City.”