The city council approved a $21.27 million temporary spending measure without opposition on Tuesday night. Council members approved the temporary budget for March in an 8-1 vote. This is the city’s fifth temporary spending measure since the start of 2018 fiscal year in July.
The latest temporary spending measure brings spending to $195.75 million. Councilman Kenneth Morris, chairman of the finance committee, warned his colleagues last week the temporary budgets will inevitably lead to a 2.5-percent tax increase on property owners.
Morris, who was absent on Tuesday, told council members the city will “back into” the $279.52 million introduced budget. Of that overall figure, the municipal portion is $155.22 million, up from $151.37 million the previous fiscal year.
Council members approved the introduced budget in early November. Administration officials promised to make cuts prior to presenting a final budget. Mayor Jane Williams-Warren told council members at the time the introduced budget had to be approved for the city to qualify for state financial assistance.
Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, said homeowners, who have had to deal with back to back tax increases in the past years, cannot afford another tax hike.
“There’s people out there crying because they have no way to find additional money to pay those taxes and mortgages, ” said Mendez prior to voting in favor of the temporary spending measure.
The administration has been waiting on its state aid figure before presenting a final budget to the council.
Business administrator Nellie Pou told council members the state is close to providing an award amount to the city.
The city is seeking $27 million from the state. Last year, the city received $25 million.
“It’s going very well. We’ll be getting information very soon,” Pou told the council. The city could receive an aid figure in matter of days. She is “hopeful” the new administration in Trenton will provide the full $27 million.
The fiscal year closes at the end of June. Council members won’t be able to reduce spending – bulk of the budget has been spent — with just three months remaining to avert a tax hike.
Council members voted down the last temporary budget in January demanding spending cuts. A week later, the same council relented and passed a temporary spending measure without any cuts.
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