Scarpelli sworn in as new Nutley mayor


Continuing a family legacy of public service, Nutley Township Commissioner Joseph Scarpelli is the townships new mayor, succeeding Commissioner Alphonse Petracco.

Scarpelli, whose dad Peter C. Scarpelli served in the top spot during his lengthy tenure on the board of commissioners, polled the highest number of votes in the May 10 municipal election among the five victorious incumbents and three challengers.

He was credited with 3,597 votes; Petracco got 3,242; followed by Commissioner Thomas Evans, with 3,192; Commissioner Mauro Tucci, with 3,147; and Commissioner Steven Rogers, with 3,061.

All five commissioners were sworn into office and Scarpelli was designated mayor at the May 19 reorganization meeting. All serve four-year terms.

Scarpelli, a local chiropractor, is starting his third term as a township commissioner and will continue as head of the Department of Public Works. His fellow commissioners will also oversee the same departments: Petracco, Public Safety; Evans, Revenue and Finance; Tucci, Parks & Recreation; and Rogers, Public Affairs.

Scarpelli told The Observer that the redevelopment of the former Roche campus, straddling the Nutley/Clifton border, would be the township governments highest priority.

Were hoping to see a signing of a lease between the Hackensack Hospital/Seton Hall University joint venture and Roche for a new medical school in the near future,he said, and then Roche selling the property to a redeveloper.

Buildings 123 and 123A, which occupy a portion of a 13 acre-tract on the former pharmaceutical campus, are designated for use as a medical school but the future use of a laboratory building connected by a sky bridge to one of the buildings remains a question mark,Scarpelli said.

The rest of the 13-acre tract has been subdivided into separate lots for future building, he said.

Still standing on another portion of the overall 116-acre Roche property are Building 76, the iconic all-glass 15-story structure, and five-story Building 1, for which there are expectations that these could be filled by corporate tenants, the mayor added.

For the rest of the property, now vacant after the demolition of many other buildings, Scarpelli said the township hopes that Roche will find appropriate commercial enterprises that will boost the local economy while not competing with our downtown area.

To help ease the transition given that the township is losing an industry that was good for $9 million a year in real estate taxes the state is, for now, providing Nutley $5.5 million a year in special transitional aid.

As the township grapples with this ever-shifting ratables dilemma, the expectation is that the medical school will be taxable,according to Finance Commissioner Evans, and that Nutley is in the process of negotiating terms for some form of PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) as part of a redeveloper agreement.

Meanwhile, township officials are doing what they can to establish some fiscal order internally based on estimated revenues and appropriations by voting last week to adopt the 2016 municipal budget of $55,484,146, of which $38,879,350 must be raised by local taxation.

That will account for a 1.99% increase in the municipal portion of the tax rate, Evans said. For the owner of a house with an averageassessment of $300,000, that will mean an additional $76 in municipal taxes, he said.

Still unknown, Evans said, are any impacts from the local school budget and from the local share of the county budget since neither the school or county tax rate has yet been struck.

On the municipal side of the equation, Evans said the projected tax increase can be attributed, primarily, to increases of $400,000 in employee health insurance coverage, $295,000 in employee pension costs and $107,000 in wastewater treatment fees by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission.

We do have some reductions in other areas and the number of township employees is stable,he said.

And, even without immediate infusion of revenues from Roche redevelopment, Evans said the township should see some additional ratables since we do have some construction going on.In fact, the township is projecting a boost in property valuation, from $3,239,875,600 last year to an estimated $3,248,743,500 this year, according to the municipal budget explanatory statement.

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