Trenton’s newly introduced budget features no local tax increase – Trentonian

Trentonian file photo Trenton city council chambers

TRENTON – During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Reed Guiscora’s administration introduced the current year (CY) 2023 budget. Most notably, the proposition includes no local tax increase on Trenton taxpayers.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce that this calendar year budget will have no local tax increase, which marks 42 months consecutive months without a tax increase. Our Administration has been working diligently over the past several months to develop a strong budget where we increase the provision of services without increasing local property taxes,” Mayor Reed Gusciora said in a statement.

During the Council meeting, it was revealed that the new proposed budget will total $256 million, including $6 million in grants. This is an $11.7 million increase from last year

While the municipal tax rate will stay the same, the total municipal tax levy, including Type 1 School and minimum library tax, is projected to increase to $82.3M from $82 million in 2022.

The City expects to avoid a local tax increase due to two sources of state funding. First, a projected receipt of $25 million in Transitional Aid and an additional $10 million in Capital City Aid. In 2022, the city received $11.5 million in Capital City funding and no Transitional Aid.

According to Mayor Gusciora in a phone interview with The Trentonian, the City is supposed to provide a budget by April 29 with “assumptions of what kind of State Aid is coming.”

“Now ultimately, if we don’t have that State Aid we’re going to go back to the drawing board. Obviously, we’ll have to raise taxes and the goal was not to raise taxes. But we’re hopeful of the state funding,” Gusciora said.

The Mayor added the State’s budget will not be passed until July 1, so until then funding from the State cannot be confirmed.

State Aid is not guaranteed from year to year, which according to Gusciora has “always been the problem.”

“The best we ever did was under Jon Corzine and he gave us $37 million in direct State Aid. The very next year, the first year of Chris Christie we got $6 million and we had massive layoffs and had to lay off 125 cops. We’ve never been able to recover from that,” Gusciora said. “We will always be beholden to State Aid. If they paid dollar for dollar on property taxes like anyone else we would get 45 million dollars from them.”

The proposed budget includes the hiring of 31 police officers and 20 firefighters to improve public safety in the Capital City. Long-term capital investments are being made to upgrade computer systems, public works equipment, and to improve the efficiency of public service provision.

Trenton’s City Council will begin a review of the budget and may adopt it as presented or conduct budget hearings of each of the departments.

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