Never a dull moment in Teaneck politics and plans. At least two important meetings took place this week. 1) A public forum on future development in the township and 2) The first of several council meetings to establish our next budget.
A Budget as Energy: Let it Flow Kindly, Fairly, and Mindfully
This open session budget meeting began with an an opportunity for residents to provide input. However, nobody was interested in speaking.
Deputy Mayor Schwartz immediately expressed his desire for a zero per cent budget increase. Presiding over the meeting Deputy Mayor Katz thanked the staff for their hard work. He seconded what Schwartz said and added, “Every year I want to see our staff do more with less.” A tough order. Mayor Hameeduddin, absent from the session, takes the same zero approach which has been a mantra for some four years. Many residents may welcome it. A comment in Blue Jersey after the prior council meeting reflected the opinion that the zero approach is a “fetish to cook the books, which generally mean kicking the can down the road.”
Next came Department Heads presentations where managers spoke with pride about their accomplishments. Only a few of them addressed their future needs. A common request from the Acting Chair was to reduce overtime.
Interim Township Manager Dean Kazinci then presented the proposed 2019 Municipal budget in an excellent powerpoint presentation with total appropriations of $71,436,898.91. Not included was a comparison with the current budget, so left unsaid was what line items were increased or decreased and what items were added or deleted. His powerpoint is here.
A suggestion: Budgets provide a stupefying amount of numbers and one’s eyes can quickly glaze over. Concentrating your attention on only one or two matters of interest to you is one approach. You might be concerned about a particular department, the overall revenue and expense, debt, surplus, or a very specific item such as Shared Services.
What Will Our Future Be?
The council and township directors provided a development forum with input from the residents on February 19. In the Teaneck News Room website Linda DeCarlo wrote, “The forum was well represented by both Township Council members and officials, but noticeably absent were NJ Transit and Suez. The meeting began with a slide presentation of all the development and infrastructure projects going on around town, along with potential revenue projections. However, the potential cost side of the equation was missing – we have no idea of the projected additional net revenue, nor the impact, if any, on our taxes.”
She concluded: “I only hope that the Township officials were listening to us and that as future development opportunities occur, they learn to coordinate their impact studies, talk to each other and share their information with everyone in the town, and to be more thoughtful about the transition of this town from lower density to higher density communities.” Her full article is here dated February 20. The forum powerpoint presentation is here.
The Council Meeting Agenda Outline, Packet, and video are here. The next Council Meeting is on February 26, and the next Council Budget Meeting is on February 28.