The Ridgewood Village Council adopted the 2011 municipal budget on Wednesday night, setting in stone a tax increase for residents but also bringing back some workers let go in 2010.
The council unanimously adopted the total $44,467,007 municipal budget, which will see the average taxpayer with a home assessed at $797,422 pay just under $3,850 in municipal taxes (about 25 percent of the total tax bill; education amounts to 65 percent, the county 10 percent). The increase amounts to roughly $255 more than 2010, just about the introduced figure of 7.39 percent.
Although officials indicated there might be a reduction on the taxpayer burden as the process continued, if anything it increased. Library Director Nancy Greene appealed to the council for $76,750 to keep funding at last year's level. Instead, she received $35,000, which officials said was a reasonable compromise though the library will be closed nine Sundays and three Fridays in 2011. This was the only increase noted since the budget was introduced last month.
"It's fair," Mayor Keith Killion said of the overall budget. "We tried to balance taking in what we could cut and restore, and what we needed to keep in the line."
The mayor added that the village is "always looking to save money" on consolidation and other measures, but remarked that the village is constrained by time and has to adopt the budget by a certain date.
The village was hit hard with increases in pension, benefits, health and emergency appropriations, which totalled about a $2.5 million increase over last year. However, those figures are outside the cap, so while municipal taxes are being raised over 7 percent, the village remains within the 2 percent "New Normal" tax cap.
After cuts last year to over 30 workers, the village will be bringing back a full-time clerk in the Building Department, a full-time mechanic in the Fleet Services Department and a part-time clerk for municipal court, to help process DUIs and collect on parking tickets, which the village is behind on. Village Clerk Heather Mailander also has a Deputy Clerk, who began last week.
The village is also replacing four positions – one full-time equipment operator in the Streets Department; one full-time planning board secretary, who has already started; and two full-time account clerks in the Finance Department, according to CFO Steve Sanzari.
The Ridgewood Board of Education had , which saw an average increase of $191, bringing the total jump to $446 for the average homeowner.
Laura Bertocci contributed to this article, last updated Thursday, June 9 at 5:15 p.m.