Jefferson’s debt increased slightly last year, from $16,515,000 to $16,860,000 because of the purchase of fire trucks and other capital spending, auditor James Cerullo told council on Wednesday, March 4.

This comes to .62% of the total equalized valuation of the township. Anything less than 1% is considered ideal, Cerullo said.

Bonded indebtedness in the township has been dropping, he added.

“Without a catastrophe, we should be able to reach pay as you go. Not many municipalities can,” he added.

Cerullo said based on the budget numbers so far, the township should be well under the state-mandated budget cap, but he recommended council adopt a resolution allowing them to go over the cap if necessary. He said the budget has remained well under the cap for the past three or four years.

Township CFO Bill Eagan also had some budget information for council.

He told council the value of the average house in the township is now $320,919, up from $310,362. This is a 3.4% increase from 2019.

Cerullo said factoring in the increase in fees for many things in the township, the drop in debt service, some savings because of retirements and a lower reserve for uncollected taxes plus the increase in overall valuation, the average amount paid in taxes could be slightly down. He cautioned the rate for garbage collection will increase and estimated a 2.24% increase.

Eagan noted the township surplus has been increasing each year for the past 10 years, so money taken from surplus can increase.

All of the numbers are still preliminary, he noted.

Mayor Eric Wilsusen noted he could eliminate hiring an assistant engineer, but, since Township Engineer Ed Haack is planning on retiring, he would like to have a succession plan in place.

Eagan said $75,000 was budgeted for that.

Council authorized Eagan to move ahead with finalizing the budget. Plans are to introduce the budget March 18.

Bridges

In other business, Wilsusen said he attended a Morris County budget meeting and got the word the county will be redecking the Espanong Road Bridge and rebuilding the Russia Road Bridge this year. Edison Road and the county portion of Espanong Road, from Edison Road to the Mount Arlington line, will be repaved in 2021.

In her report, Township Administrator Debra Milikin said she met with the director and assistant director from the township library to discuss the proposed parking ordinance for the lot shared by the municipal building and library. They want language in the ordinance to specifically exclude library patrons from the two-hour limit.

She also said damaged guardrail on Prospect Point Road was replaced. A resident requested the rail be extended and the DPW did add some additional rail.

Council introduced an ordinance creating permit parking on Nolan’s Point Park Road. The parking restriction was discussed with residents at a public meeting last fall. The public hearing will be held on March 18.

Council adopted an ordinance after a public hearing with no public comment appropriating $50,000 from the capital improvement fund for a purchase of a police car.

Never miss a headline!

Sign up to have The Jefferson Chronicle emails/breaking alerts and TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition sent free to your inbox. Subscribe >>