At NJ League of Municipalities Convention, Officials Say Budget Issues Remain a Challenge
Updated On: Jan 20, 2015
In this file photo, local officials wait to ask questions during the 2011 New Jersey League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City. Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
NJ.com - ATLANTIC CITY - As Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins sat on a bench in the Atlantic City Convention Center today, he mulled over which session he planned to attend to kick off his second visit to the annual New Jersey League of Municipalities conference.
He said his eye on a panel discussion about fiscal issues.
“We’re always looking for ways to reduce the budget,” he said, while also, “trying to keep up the level of service.”
Kalnins is not alone in that balancing act. On the first day of the 99th annual convention — dubbed “Partnerships for Prosperity” — officials said managing finances at the local level presents an ongoing challenge that lacks a simple solution.
Hanover Mayor Ronald Francioli said his township continues to look for opportunities to share services.
“More and more municipalities are looking to save money” by going that route, he said.
Bill Dressel, the executive director of the League of Municipalities, said towns have been “trying to do more with less” for years now.
“It’s less dollars that’s available to them to fund the broad spectrum of programs and services that they’re required to in order to improve the quality of life in their communities,” Dressel said.
At a panel on budget and audit updates, Thomas Neff, the director of the state Division of Local Government Services, told local officials more money from the state was not on its way.
“The state’s budget continues to have a large structural problem in it. It’s one that’s been around for a long time,” he said. “As I warn municipalities every year around this time, don’t be expecting an increase in aid. It’s almost futile to even ask for it.”
Neff told officials that as they put their budgets together they should, as always, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
“I think the best you’re going to get is flat aid,” he said.