From Jersey Digs:
The Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC), a nine-member board comprised of local business professionals, opposed the 6.35 percent increase in the municipal budget, proposing 11 recommendations in hopes of staving off a tax hike, but to no avail. Suggestions included repairing broken parking meters, putting a freeze on new hires, capping overtime pay, and limiting perks such as the police department’s dry-cleaning expenses that totaled $40,000 last year.
“I think if we are going to have a CBAC and we, as a council, are not going to look at anything that they say,” said Adrienne Wooten, Councilwoman-at-Large, “I think we owe them a line by line excuse why we’re not doing it.”
Wooten, who joined councilmembers Jamie Summers-Johnson and Weldon M. Montague in voting no, had previously served on the CBAC and remembered the committee’s proposal “fell on deaf ears” that year also.
However, Nile Clements, Chief Finance Officer, defended the new budget citing two critical expenses — a snow removal expense for $190,000 and settling a costly issue with pensions — as well as the purchase of three new fire trucks.
Meanwhile, there is a growing number of homeowners in Orange who believe the rate they are paying in property taxes — which, at 5.6 percent, is the second-highest in Essex County — doesn’t square with the services they are receiving from the city.
“I could pay the same amount of money or less to live in South Orange, and the schools would be better, the neighborhood would be better,” said Zonasha Ward, a CBAC member. “We have to take our children to South Orange, West Orange, or Maplewood to play or be in an activity.”
Near the top of most residents’ complaint lists is the ongoing fiasco at the public library that was detailed in a Jersey Digs report. In that story, an anonymous source alleges thousands of dollars in unpaid bills at the library. Since publication, all three of the librarians were terminated, leaving the city no choice but to shutter its doors.