City officials approved a taxation resolution that will allow the city’s tax office to issue estimated tax bills for the first quarter of 2015. The resolution calls for a two-percent tax increase which translate to roughly $78 in increase for an average home valued at $350,000, according to city officials.
“The $78 dollars can make a world of difference for some people,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, citing the hardship recurring tax increases has on city property owners.
“The citizens are just not able to afford further increase in taxes,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman.
The city has been funding itself through a series of temporary budgets since the last fiscal year ended on July 1st, 2014. The city cannot formulate and pass a final budget without receiving a transitional aid number from the state, officials said.
The state has yet to inform the city how much it will receive in aid.
“Has the administration received any indication when we’re going to receive the transitional aid award?” asked Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman.
Business administrator Nellie Pou responded the city should receive that information shortly. Other transitional aid cities like Trenton and Newark have already received their transitional aid numbers.
The city last year received $23 million in aid from the state.
Morris said the city has to still operate and fund essential services.
“The state is not going to give us money unless we have some skin in the game,” said Morris. “They’re not going to go to the rest of the taxpayers throughout the State of New Jersey and say we’re taking a portion of your taxes and giving it to the City of Paterson unless the city taxpayers actually participate in some way.”
Morris said two-percent, one-percent, is too much for city taxpayers, but it’s something that has to be done. He said the budget reductions that were put in place during the budget hearings cannot be put to action until the council adopts a budget which it cannot do without receiving a state-aid award.
“We can’t even look to realize those savings,” said Morris. He said during the 3rd and 4th quarters taxpayers can hope for some relief as the cuts come into action.
The city has to reduce its dependence on the state, added James Staton, 1st Ward councilman. “My prayer is we get better at what we’re doing so we can become more independent,” said Staton.
Staton, McKoy, Morris, Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, and Maritza Davila, councilwoman at-large, voted in favor of the resolution while Sayegh and Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman voted against. Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, and Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, were absent from the vote.