Mayor Breaks Tie to Pass Budget
Home assessed at borough average would see $66 hike in municipal portion of property tax bill.
Democratic Mayor Bob Conley on Monday cast his first tie-breaking vote as mayor to pass Madison's 2012 budget after Borough Council members voted 3-3 on the spending plan.
Republicans Dr. Vincent Esposito and Robert Landrigan and Democrat Carmela Vitale voted in favor of the budget.
Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto and councilmen Robert Catalanello and Don Links, all Republicans, voted against the budget, as they did last year when Republican Mayor Mary-Anna Holden cast the deciding vote.
Before voting, Tsukamoto said the borough hasn't done enough to find recurring revenue sources or cost-saving measures. Catalanello said it's shocking there isn't more than the $800,000 in budgeted surplus given projected one-time shots of revenue, including $800,000 in construction fees and $250,000 from the planned sale of a former borough recreation building at 10 Maple Ave.
After the deadlock vote on the budget, Conley broke the tie, voting "Yes," passing the budget and drawing applause from residents who attended the meeting Monday night at Hartley Dodge Memorial.
Conley said the budget process was "far from perfect" and one of the "steepest roller coaster budget seasons I've ever seen in my time here."
But he said the budget, which would raise the municipal portion of the property tax bill by $66.15 to $2,727 for a home assessed at the borough average of $409,433, was a very strong budget. It calls for increasing the municipal tax levy by 2 percent to $13,853,330, within the state-mandated cap. It was introduced unanimously March 26.
"We don't want to burden future councils and future residents by decisions made today and I don't think this budget does that," Conley said.
Tsukamoto there are many positive aspects to the budget, such as staying within the 2 percent cap, not reducing services and continuing to support organizations.
But she said she believe there's the possibility of a structural deficit and "we are again delaying the pain to the following year."
Borough Administrator Ray Codey said the budget includes to no water rate or electric rate increases, and should maintain Madison's AAA bond rating.
"This is a good budget," he said prior to the vote. "It deserves your support. It was introduced unanimously. and we would hope that the members wo;uld reconsider their positions and vote to support this budget in the best interests of this community."
A proposal to rezone borough land with a former recreation building at 10 Maple Ave. so it can be used as a single-family home was introduced by the Borough Council during the meeting. Borough Administrator Ray Codey said the property could be auctioned off sometime after Labor Day.