Highland Park 2006 Municipal Budget Questions
I. Under General Revenues:
1. On Page 4, Cable Franchise Fees are projected to nearly double, from $36,000 in 2005 to $70,348 in 2006. Please explain how we this is happening.
2. On Page 6, revenue from Uniform Construction Code fees is being increased from $120,000 in 2005 to $200,000 in 2006. Is this because of fee increases? By how much were the fees increased within the last year?
3. On Page 9 under Miscellaneous Revenues, Assistance to Firefighters is being decreased from $39,324 in 2005 to $2,623.88 in 2006. Why? Was this a one-time grant last year?
4. On Page 9 under Miscellaneous Revenues, the Clean Communities Program is scheduled to receive zero funding as compared with $11,482.01 in 2005? Why is this program being eliminated?
5. On Page 9 under Miscellaneous Revenues, revenue funding DEP Storm Water Regulations is being decreased from $10,207 in 2005 to $7,655 in 2006. Why?
6. On Page 9 under Miscellaneous Revenues, the Jersey Fresh Program, which funds the Farmers’ Market, is scheduled to receive zero funding as compared with $400 in 2005. Why is this program being eliminated, and who will fund the Farmer’s Market this year?
7. On Page 9a under Miscellaneous Revenues, we are receiving a $15,000 Smart Growth Go Green grant. What project is this funding?
8. On Page 9a under Miscellaneous Revenues, there are two separate line items for County Open Space, one for $250,000 and a second for $50,000, both for 2005 alone. Why are these separated and what did they fund?
9. On Page 9a under Miscellaneous Revenues, County CDBG revenue is being reduced from $85,000 in 2005 to $76,500 in 2006. Why?
10. On Page 11, the Amount to be Raised by Taxes for Support of the Municipal Budget is being increased from $7,308,927.57 to $8,278,378.19. This is a tax increase of almost $1 million or 18 tax points. How much of an increase would this translate to per average home?
11. Specifically, what is the amount of Extraordinary Aid we requested for 2006?
12. Why is there no revenue line for money from the Fund for Highland Park? In 2005, the borough received more than $20,000 from the Fund, so why does this not appear in the budget? How much revenue do you anticipate the borough receiving from the Fund in 2006, and why is there no line item in the budget for this?
II. Under Appropriations:
1. On Page 12, Salaries and Wages for Borough Administration are being increased from $113,850 in 2005 to $129,755 in 2006. Are these contractual increases, or do they include new positions created within the last year?
2. On Page 12, Other Expenses under Audit Services are being increased from $15,800 to $24,000. Why? Please explain what this expenditure is funding.
3. On Page 13, Salaries and Wages for Tax Collection are being increased from $50,770 to $63,465. Why such a large increase? Are we still paying Jessica Miller full salary and benefits? Are we still paying someone else to do her job while she is suspended with pay? Is this the reason for the increase in this line item?
4. On Page 14 under Buildings and Grounds, Salaries and Wages are being increased from $81,500 to $97,512.80. Again, this is a large increase. Is the increase due solely to contractual obligations, or does it reflect the creation of new positions within the last year?
5. On Page 15, why the reduction in Other Expenses for Municipal Court from $63,625 in 2005 to $9,525 in 2006?
6. On Page 15d, why are Other Expenses under Recreation being increased from $88,870 in 2005 to $103,845 in 2006. Where is the additional funding going?
7. On Page 15d, under Public Works, Salaries and Wages are being increased from $770,400 to $840,320.48. Why such a large increase? Is it due to contractual obligations or does it reflect the creation of any new positions within the last year?
8. On Page 15d, how is it we’re going from $0 on Salaries and Wages for Community and Economic Development to $90,000? Does this reflect the creation of a new position?
9. On Page 15d, under Community and Economic Development, why is the allocation for Other Expenses doubled, from $50,000 in 2005 to $104,000 in 2006? What is this funding?
10. On Page 16 under Inspection of Buildings, Code Enforcement, Salaries and Wages are increasing from $176,600 to $203,430. Is this due solely to contractual obligations or does it reflect the creation of any new positions within the last year?
11. On Page 17, the allocation for Street Lighting is being increased from $115,000 in 2005 to $130,000 in 2006. Why?
12. On Page 20a, the allocation for Garbage Collection for apartments is being increased from $190,000 in 2005 to $220,000 in 2006. Why?
13. On Page 20a, under LOSAP, Other Expenses are being increased from $18,000 in 2005 to $30,000 in 2006. Why?
14. On Page 25, the allocation for Matching Funds is being increased from $42,500 in 2005 to $50,000 in 2006. What are these matching funds for?
15. On Page 27, the allocation for Interest on Notes is being increased from $33,261.57 in 2005 to 115,400 in 2006. Why such a large increase?
16. On Page 27, the allocation for the Lease Agreement with MCIA is being increased from $41,960 to $106,650. Why? Please explain this.
17. On Page 30, the amount of Municipal Debt Service is increased from $1,007,301.57 in 2005 to $1,211,730 in 2006. Why this increase in debt service? We should be trying to keep debt service at or under $1 million.
18. On Page 39, lower right hand corner, under Proposed Use of Surplus, we go from an anticipated 2005 surplus of $1,080,000 to a remaining surplus of $670,303.64. Why such a large depletion of the surplus? Shouldn’t we be maintaining a larger surplus as a cushion for difficult times?
III. Water and Sewer
1. On Page 31, the Miscellaneous allocation to Dedicated Revenues from the Water and Sewer Utility Budget is being increased from $30,200 in 2005 to $42,345 in 2006. Why? Does this reflect the recent water and sewer increase the Council passed?
2. On Page 32, under Debt Service, why is the appropriation for DEP Waste Water Loan Repayment increased from $450,000 to $749,783? Why such a large increase?
IV. Capital Budget
1. On Page 40b, $500,000 is proposed for Public Safety Building Expansion, with $475,000 of that authorized as debt. Specifically, what is involved in this expansion?
2. On Page 40b, $746,000 is being proposed for Road Work, with $693,200 of that authorized as debt. What does the road work entail, and which and how many roads are being done?
3. On Page 40b, $50,000 is proposed for Borough Hall Renovations, Floors and Other, with $47,000 of that authorized as debt. What specific renovations are being done and are they really necessary?