Panel Looks For Long-Term Solutions To Lower Taxes
Several short-term solutions discussed at Tuesday’s meeting
The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel is seeking both short-term solutions that will save the township money this year, and long-term ones that will allow for lower taxes in the future, Mayor Bill Laforet said at the group’s Tuesday night meeting.
The panel of residents was assembled last month to make recommendations to the mayor as he and Mahwah’s Business Administrator and Chief Financial Officer are putting together the 2012 budget. The budget, which will determine Mahwah’s municipal tax rate this year, needs to be presented to the town council in February for approval.
“We are looking for something different, an austerity spending plan that will have a significant impact on what people pay for their taxes,” Laforet said. “Our goal is not just to stabilize the tax rate, we want to lower taxes.”
To do that, the Panel’s President David Bagatelle said “no idea is a bad idea.” He asked the other 13 members of the panel to come up with both long-term and short-term ideas that will save Mahwah money.
Some of the short-term ideas discussed Tuesday night, which the mayor may choose to include in this year’s budget, or not, include:
- Selling off two properties the township owns at the top of Mahwah Road. According to Bagatelle, the lots are “just sitting there,” and not currently being utilized by the township. The land has a combined estimated value of $600K, Laforet said Tuesday.
- Examining the revenue potential of a transmission tower at the top of Stag Hill Rd. According to Laforet, the tower, which at the top of Bald Mountain is the highest point in Bergen County, is currently only used by the NYS Thruway. He said the administration is looking into whether or not any existing contracts would prohibit the town from expanding that. “We could potentially bring in a management company that would maximize the number of tenants on that pole,” he said. The group said the earning potential of the tower is unknown, but is worth looking into further.
The panel needs to recommend ways to cut $800K from the tentative 2012 budget in order to meet the state mandated two-percent tax cap. To stabilize taxes at last year’s tax rate, about $1.4M would need to be cut. Lowering taxes would require more.
The panel of business professionals is acting only as an advisory and "brainstorming" body, township officials said. It will not have a say in how the budget eventually turns out, but will instead make recommendations that may or may not be incorporated into the 2012 budget.