NA adopts budget early, borough has $4M surplus: Pronti

Borough officials have once again adopted the North Arlington municipal budget in a timely fashion.

The Borough Council unanimously voted to adopt the 2024 budget that will go into effect for the third-quarter property tax bills in July.

“We are very proud of this year’s budget and all that it accomplishes for our residents,” Mayor Daniel H. Pronti said. “With the harsh increases in costs, stemming from federal inflation and raises in minimum wage, costs to run a municipality have also gone up considerably.”

The mayor further said, “About 25% of our total expenditures support public safety, as we continue to add personnel to our police department, with a longtime high of 36 officers. We continue to invest in the latest technologies to ensure safe and secure neighborhoods. This year, we are adding $1 million to the budget to support and enhance our latest public safety initiatives.”

The budget also includes significant funding for ongoing road improvements, redevelopment of under-used and undertaxed commercial properties and key upgrades in parks and recreation.

Borough Administrator Stephen LoIacono, who joined the borough in 2014, said he inherited a bleak financial budget running with a $500,000 deficit, left over from previous administrations. Through careful budgeting over the years, the 2024 spending plan now includes a $4 million surplus.

He said the 2024 budget has a slight increase over last year’s budget, as the borough has grappled with inflation, contractual obligations and increases in insurance and other fixed employee costs. Yet, the budget remains $3 million under the state-mandated spending cap.

Of the total $30.1 million budget, approximately $19.9 million is raised from borough taxpayers. The remainder is generated through government aid, grants, surplus and municipal fees.

“It is amazing what we have been able to do this year with just a slight increase.  We have been able to protect our residents from seeing such high increases, once again, and were able to keep any increase from exceeding $69 on the average household.” LoIacono said, noting the borough had also steadily been paying down debt at a much faster rate than required, which has resulted in the borough saving a significant amount money. The town now pays back more than it borrows, further demonstrating fiscal discipline in this era of higher interest rates.

Roughly 35% of the entire property tax bill in North Arlington funds municipal operations. About 55% of every tax bill goes to the Board of Education to support the borough schools and 10% goes to Bergen County for services.

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