It’s that time of year again when local governments around Bergen County are reviewing their 2014 municipal budgets in advance of their being introduced, discussed, and adopted during the spring.
While we read quite a bit about how our real estate tax dollars are spent and hear varying opinions as to where we could or should spend more or less, I think it may be worth “spending” a few moments to talk about the other side of the budget coin—revenues, particularly those generated by real estate taxes.
Unlike some of the surrounding towns, Teaneck’s real revenue is overwhelmingly generated by its single family properties. Many years ago, previous elected officials made the decision to limit commercial development in certain areas including the section of Route 4 that runs through town. That is a decision the current Teaneck taxpayer must live with. More recently, the Township changed some of its commercial zoning in the business districts to allow for additional development in those areas (allowances for more height in retail areas, a medical overlay zone on Teaneck Road both north and south of the hospital, and others). We recently approved two well-placed residential developments in the Queen Anne Road/Plaza neighborhood, both of which will be nice additions to our tax base.
A proposal has been made recently for additional development in the Glenpointe area which could raise in excess of $1.5 million per year in revenue. This would go a long way toward stabilizing our tax base. In addition, and if substantial revenue can be shown, the current Council is considering the placement of a single billboard on the north side of Route 4 adjacent to the Englewood border. Neither the Glenpointe project nor the billboard would increase public school expenses. I believe that we should do our best to encourage development, especially commercial development which would not increase costs to our public school system, in all areas of Teaneck.
Teaneck prides itself in being a community that provides a wide range of services to its residents —in the areas of public safety and public works, services to our seniors and children, a library that is open 7 days a week, encouraging the growth of our sports organizations town wide, along with many others. I often receive positive comments from non-Teaneck residents after they have observed some of the outstanding services we offer. Those services need to be maintained so that our residents, of all ages, continue to enjoy them.
It may be easy to suggest, as many have done, that we cut some services, especially in programs for seniors and kids. I disagree and think we should look at and encourage growth on “the other side of the coin.”
Yitz Stern, a Teaneck resident since 1980, is a member of the Teaneck Township Council.
By Yitz Stern