Englewood Mayor Vetoes Law On Using Surplus Funds
Friday, April 8, 2005


ENGLEWOOD - Mayor Michael Wildes on Thursday vetoed an ordinance that would allow the city to save surplus funds for future budgets, saying the focus should be on spending cuts.
The council on March 29 passed an ordinance setting an annual spending cap of 3.5 percent, as permitted under a 2004 state law designed to slow municipal spending. The law allows municipalities that set a cap to save the difference between the cap and its actual increases on tax-supported spending over two years. These municipalities are then allowed to spend the difference the third year.

Wildes, using his veto power for the first time in his 14 months in office, said the cap was set too high. It would allow the city to spend too much money in the long run and pad City Hall with unnecessary new administrative jobs, he said.

"I don't care if it's this year or three years from now, they should be reducing money," Wildes said. "We should only be financing crucial needs at this point."

The impact on taxpayers and size of the spending plan, introduced March 23, remains uncertain. Officials say City Manager Cheryl Fuller is still making changes. The city's treasurer, Diana Patino, did not release a copy of the draft distributed to the council last month. Fuller did not return a message left at her office Thursday; an assistant said she would be away all day.

Until the state passed the law allowing municipalities to establish "cap banks," municipalities could save the difference between a 5 percent cap and any actual increases in tax-supported spending for future budgets. The new law requires towns to pass an ordinance before creating the banks and several Bergen and Passaic county towns have done so.

Council President Douglas Bern said the caps provide an incentive for municipalities to spend less.

"I hope the mayor has done his due diligence," he said. "The argument of the city manager and the auditor is if we keep the budget low, we will have a cushion three years in the future should we need it."

City Attorney William Rupp said Wildes' veto could be overturned if at least four of the five members of the council wish to do so.

Councilwoman Charlotte Bennett-Schoen, the only member of the council not to vote in favor of the cap, said she abstained because she doesn't trust her colleagues when it comes to money.

She has criticized the council for passing an ordinance before she took office granting lifetime health insurance benefits to some city staffers without assessing its cost. She said she was promised that an ordinance to rescind the benefits would appear on the March 29 meeting agenda, the same meeting that the rest of the council approved the cap. But the ordinance was left off the agenda.

"After seeing how manipulative this council has been, I'm not going to approve them increasing any kind of money," she said. "This is about money, about honesty, about integrity and about ethics."

Reproduced from The Record

Friday, April 8, 2005

by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood

2-10 N. Van Brunt Street

Englewood , NJ 07631



Paid for by Friends of Michael J. Wildes, Claudia Colbert, Treasurer