The needler in the haystack.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mapp administration's first budget trundles along

Plainfield's state aid for 2014. (Chart by NJ Spotlight).

Though the absence of three Plainfield City Council members (Rivers, Greaves and Taylor) means tonight's Council meeting has been rescheduled (to Thursday, March 20), the Mapp administration is moving ahead with its first budget.

The Councilors are at a meeting of the National League of Cities that they decided to attend in January.

While Councilor Bill Reid and Director of Administration & Finance Ron West tangoed at the last Council meeting over the administration's proposal for a one-month temporary budget extension, some of the other necessary pieces are beginning to fall into place.

This is the case even though the Robinson-Briggs administration left office without preparing a budget proposal thus putting Mapp's team at a disadvantage and trying to catch up with the budgeting process. Even so, the city will not be appreciably behind the state's schedule. This can be attributed partly to West's chairing the Transition Team subcommittee that dealt expressly with issues of a timely budget process.

Plainfield's budget situation is complicated by serveral factors that are coming together and making this year unique --

Real reduction in state aid
In a story on Friday, NJ Spotlight posted an interactive map of the 2014 state aid to municipalities, including Plainfield -- from which the chart above is taken (see here). While the state trumpets the fact that aid dollars have not been cut, the story points out that inflation over the period since 2011 amounts to 4%, meaning that Plainfield has seen a real decrease in state aid. Since 2009, its aid amount has decreased 15.9%. This means that Plainfield starts out from behind.
Law capping public safety raises expiring
As the Ledger noted Sunday (see story here), the 2010 law which placed a cap on police and fire contract settlements is set to expire at the end of the month.

While Christie has called on the Legislature to make the cap permanent, there is no guarantee that will be the case. Meanwhile, Plainfield is in the process of negotiating contracts once again.
Energy tax receipts
Hamilton mayor Kelly Yaede recently called on the Legislature to rewrite the energy tax receipt laws to ensure the receipts go to municipalities, as originally intended (see story here).

Yaede's argument echoes that of the NJ League of Municipalities, which published a 'white paper' on the subject in 2010 (see here).

The tax has its origins in the franchise that municipalities granted to utilities to install their poles, wires and other equipment in the public right of way.

According to the NJSLOM paper, the funds generated actually constitute the second largest portion of municipal tax receipts after property taxes. The issue is that under Gov. Christie, these funds -- collected by the state on behalf of the municipalities -- have been siphoned off to help balance the state budget.
This is the hand that Mapp and the city have been dealt.

Nice, huh?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Alan Goldstein said...

Speaking of the budget, will the City stop making the $100,000 monthly payment to the PMUA, or will this be Mr. West's second go-around with this illicit subsidy?

See Section 203B here-

If I were Mayor, I would have turned off the spigot on January 1st.