CLARK — On Sunday, during the township’s annual reorganization meeting, Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso said local residents should prepare themselves for a difficult tax season in 2023.
“Right now, we’re looking at a very big budget increase, and we are only at the beginning stages of it,” Mayor Bonaccorso said, noting an anticipated increase of $800,000 in state-mandated health-insurance costs as one of the primary issues facing the township this year.
“To make matters worse, Union County is also involved with the state health-benefits plan. That could be a double hit to our taxpayers,” Mayor Bonaccorso continued, adding that Clark is not likely to be the only municipality to be impacted by the state-level increases.
“A lot of mayors and municipalities are banding together to put some pressure on Trenton to ask for some relief,” the mayor said. “There’s a lot of surplus in Trenton and, collectively, this group is asking for about $350 million in relief to be allocated towards this problem.”
Township pensions and related costs are expected to increase as well, along with prices of the gas and diesel that the township utilizes to fuel its fleet of vehicles. Mayor Bonaccorso said Sunday that the township’s recycling costs are expected to increase by about $175,000, and its general insurance costs will be going up by about $800,000. Mayor Bonaccorso attributed the latter to a statewide change in the way that workman’s compensation cases are handled.
“Our salaries and wages will also be going up according to our union contracts, which were negotiated in a fiscally-sound manner,” Mayor Bonaccorso said. “I always thank our employees for working with our administration and council on being very fair in their increases.”
The township also will be faced with its first interest rate increase in more than a decade.
“For about the last 12 or 14 years, we were borrowing money in Clark at around 1 percent. We were able to build [the township’s police department building], pave a lot of roads and create a lot of recreational opportunities,” Mayor Bonaccorso said. “The interest rate is now going up about 3 percent. We’re going to have to be a bit more patient in terms of our spending going forward.”
In other township news, Mayor Bonaccorso on Sunday administered the oaths of office to council members Frank Mazzarella (Ward 1), Patrick O’Connor (Ward 2), Steve Hund (Ward 3) and Brian Toal (Ward 4), all of whom were successful in their bids for re-election in November. Councilman Bill Smith was unanimously appointed to serve as the council’s next president, and Councilwoman Angel Albanese was named vice president.
“It’s a pleasure to work together as a team, without obstacles or personal agendas along the way. This town is a loving, caring, accepting community,” Mayor Bonaccorso said of the council. “We’ve achieved so much together and I look forward to achieving even more.”
Looking forward, Mayor Bonaccorso said Sunday that the council will work diligently to reduce the impact of the upcoming budget season on the township’s residents while simultaneously continuing to bolster its recreation, public works and other departments.