Budget & Taxes
Our 2013 municipal budget has been adopted with the lowest tax rate increase in over 15 years. Our aim is to bring the budget in as low as possible while still providing the services that all of you expect in South Orange. Each year, we continue to make more progress towards yearly stabilization at the same time that we explore larger long-term ways to actually reduce taxes. You won't see the kinds of year to year increases that used to happen, even as we're being responsible about investing in long-ignored deferred maintenance projects and maintaing the quality of services everyone has come to expect in South Orange. Visit us online to download our budget or find more information. We have some very exciting transparency/participation tools in the pipeline for the 2014 budget building on our record of making our budget the most accessible in the state, so keep your eyes open!
SOPAC & Grant Funding
The New Jersey State Council on the Arts awarded SOPAC with a three-year $30,000 per year grant. This grant represents a tremendous step forward for SOPAC. The Council on the Arts grant is important not just because of the money involved, but because dozens upon dozens of granting agencies see a grant from them as a seal of approval. This smaller grant will open up the door for much more funding down the line. For years, SOPAC has been saddled with debt on its balance sheet from the building costs that it was never going to be be able to pay down. In the past few months, we were able to finalize a restructuring of SOPAC's debt, putting it on the Village's balance sheet instead of theirs. This didn't cost taxpayers anything, and as we expected, already has proved worthwhile. Read the article from NJ.com. A huge amount of thanks goes to the board and staff at SOPAC for making this happen, and we look forward to many more exciting funding opportunities to support arts in our community because of this great step.
New Rescue Squad Location & Third and Valley Progress
Late last month the Board of Trustees, after many months of deliberations and discussions, finally approved a new location for the Rescue Squad. The Third and Valley redevelopment project, bringing 215 apartments, retail space and a parking garage (plus over half a million dollars per year of direct of financial contributions to the Village) includes approximately $1.1 million to relocate the outdated Rescue Squad building, which must be demolished for the Third and Valley project to begin. The Rescue Squad had approached the Village several times over many years (the last was in 2007) for approval to expand the building, and was denied based on the fact that the building would be demolished and relocated in exactly the way it is now. The Rescue Squad contributes almost 18,000 volunteer hours to the community, yet many members currently sleep on couches or on mattresses on the floor, and ambulances must be kept outside, complicating the storage of sensitive medical equipment because the facility isn't adequate to the needs of the organization, which has grown in the breadth of service its able to offer our community. This new building, which will be located on Sloan Street next to the historic Firehouse, will be a tremendous step forward for the Rescue Squad, and the first of many exciting pieces of the Third and Valley Redevelopment Project that will be unfolding over the next several years. And don't forget, this great donation-funded organization always needs support from the community and you can always individually contribute to them online.
Don't forget, lots of great events happening this summer!
- Downtown After Sundown: Free concerts on Sloan Street and Spiotta Park every Friday and Saturday night at 730
- Farmers Market: Every Wednesday from 2-7pm in the parking lot off of First Street and Sloan Street
- Free concerts (and now movies!) in the park: This Wednesday will be the last free concert in the park at Floods Hill for the summer, and on August 14th, we'll begin the free movie series at the same location.
As always, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or stop by my office hours at 5pm every Monday in Village Hall. For any questions or to make an appointment for office hours please feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org!