By JOHN T. WARD
The borough council’s unanimous approval of the 2016 spending plan marked the anticlimax to a brief standoff that began when Democrats raised eleventh-hour objections to what they later called “‘fluff and ‘slush funds” in the GOP budget.
Passage of the plan came amid council praise for compromise — a reference to the single change from one version to the next.
After council members Kathy Horgan and fellow Democratic Councilman Ed Zipprich objected last week to what they said were unnecessarily large reserves, or rainy-day funds, the finance committee agreed to reduce reserves by $35,000, said Republican Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who chairs the finance committee.
That reduction was offset by including an equivalent amount of revenue from a recently negotiated deal with the Count Basie Theatre for use of the borough hall parking lot, Schwabenbauer. That $35,000 could not previously have been included because the deal hadn’t been signed, she said.
Still, Zipprich noted, the revenue from the theater deal “is not guaranteed, so there’s a little bit of a question mark” about whether it could be counted upon.
“There’s always a little bit of a question mark,” replied Schwabenbauer, noting that the budget also includes estimated revenue from a general parking-fee hike passed last month.
The new $31 million spending plan includes a local levy of $11.8 million. For property owners, the tax is up 1.68 percent, rather than the 1.98-percent increase in the version rejected by the council on May 25, when Mayor Pasquale Menna cast a tiebreaking vote.
The average home is assessed at $354,006, according to borough figures.