PERTH AMBOY – City officials have approved a $71.8 million municipal budget that raises taxes by approximately $320 for the average homeowner.
Mayor Wilda Diaz blamed the tax increase on debt payments necessary because of over $200 million in obligations inherited from previous administrations. Officials also pointed to the loss of state aid dollars.
According to the city’s business administrator, Gregory Fehrenbach, this year’s budget is $3.3 million lower than last year. Still, it requires a tax increase of approximately $80 per quarter for the average Perth Amboy homeowner. (Fehrenbach did note that about 3,300 residents would receive at $180 credit from the state that would offset their local property tax increase.)
Councilman Fernando Gonzalez did not support the budget. “We could have made sufficient cuts to maintain a stable tax rate,” he said. Gonzalez recommended hiring fewer new police officers to replace retiring ones and delaying the hiring of new firefighters. He also suggested reducing council members’ stipends and eliminating health insurance for part-time employees.
“We had the opportunity to stand up for Perth Amboy residents,” Gonzalez said. “This is a year when everyone is suffering and we should not have let taxes go up when everything else is getting more expensive.”