Bunk Is Hiding Tax Hike, Layoffs

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LINDEN—To avoid the political fallout that could result from bad news in the weeks before a contested primary election, Council President Robert Bunk is delaying the introduction of a municipal budget that will require a $345 tax increase and 75 to 130 city employee layoffs.

Two other Council personnel and finance committee members, Gene Davis and Michelle Yamakaitis, are running with Bunk as part of the Regular Political Organization of Union County slate.

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The amount to be collected from property taxes went from about $35 million in 2007 to $42 million last year. That number would go up to $57 million except state law forbids the city from raising taxes over $48 million so spending must be reduced by $8.7 million.

The only city agency likely to avoid any budget reduction is the Law Department, which Bunk has defended against a mayoral veto and other steps to curtail spending.

Insiders say the pending bad news is not a surprise. “You could see it coming because of what was going on in the last couple years,” said Councilman Christopher Kolibas, a committee member who is not on the June 8 ballot. “There are things that could have been done over the past five or six years. It’s been predictable.”


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