At their monthly meeting on May 24, 2018, Bellmawr Council voted 5-1 to approve Resolutions amending the 2018 Municipal Budget and adopting the 2018 Municipal Budget.
Voting yes were: Councilmen Paul DeAngelis, Jamie Casey, Jim D’Angelo, Steve Sauter and Ray Bider. Councilman Steve Hagerty voted no on the Resolutions as relating to the budget.
The average home assessed at $167,500 will see an increase of $33.23 (locally), with a net increase of $53.64 overall.
Click to view the Budget Presentation
Mayor Frank Filipek stated he was “against raising taxes. As mayor, I think the taxpayers have enough. I am for a no raised budget.”
A resident asked how the budget could go from a zero-increase last year to a 3.3 cent increase this year.
Councilman Jim D’Angelo said: “We all want to go in at zero,” and then spoke about the auditor’s recommendations. He said: “Quite frankly, you should never go into a year with zero. We talked to our auditor and our auditor advised us this year to raise taxes two cents.”
In the years to come he said: “We are going to be financially strapped because we have bonds that are due that we are going to need the money for … I can’t see that far ahead — none of us can. [If] we go in with zero now, two or three years down the line, it’s not going to be a two-cent increase. It could be higher because we have bonds that are due.”
He continued: “If we could guarantee that our budget did not increase at all and it was flatlined, we could go in at zero. But, our budget is not going to go in without an increase. We have salaries we have to pay. Healthcare goes up. Fuel goes up. Everything goes up. So, in order for us to be financially solid…We can’t just look today. You have to look years ahead.”
Councilman Ray Bider said: The Borough is two cents. The school is three cents up. So, it’s not all Borough. The County is slightly lower.”
Mayor Filipek said: “You can figure on anything happening in three or four years, but if you can help the people when you got it. Ask: ‘What is the surplus this year? How much money is left over in surplus that we didn’t use that we could’ve used on taxes?’”
The mayor stated that when the budget was presented, he wasn’t at the meeting because he was in the hospital.
He said: “But that is their [Council’s] prerogative to vote how they want. We had it down to one cent. Now all of a sudden, it jumped up to 3.3. Also, you have to remember some of those things in there are raises… That hurts the budget too. I think we could have done zero to help the people, but they thought no and different.”
Councilman Jamie Casey stated: “When your Chief Financial Officer recommends two cents on the local then your auditor recommends two cents for the local tax, they are the experts. There was reasoning behind it.”
Council was asked: “Last year, when it was zero, couldn’t it have been one and a half percent? Why didn’t anyone look at it last year to see where it was going to be three-four years from now?”
Mayor Filipek responded: “You’re lucky you live in a town … that has good people working for you. Our surplus was $2.2 million dollars left over. That’s not counting water. Next year, it’s predicted to be $2.8 million dollars because our guys do a hell of a job and do their work. Bowman [the auditor] also said we could live with either two, one, or zero. He just makes recommendations.”
A resident asked about a home on Kingston Avenue that has fallen into disrepair and also spoke about other issues.
SJO also asked for an update or an explanation of the status of the Bellmawr Redevelopment Authority (BDA).