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Reader says Village Budget Time to Live within our means

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Reader says Village Budget Time to Live within our means

While there has historically been a strong link between rising property prices and local property taxes, the link has broken down badly when property prices decline. Assessed property values in Ridgewood have declined from $802K in 2008 to $687K in 2013, or -3% per year, and yet the municipal budget grew +3.55% on average between 2008~2012 (2013 was 0%).

There are lots of reasons why our property taxes have grown despite declining assessed values (contractual promises, state mandates, cuts in state & federal aid, parking meter theft, etc), but shouldn’t we align our expenses with our revenues ? That’s what every responsible household does, why don’t we expect the same of our public officials ?

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31 thoughts on “Reader says Village Budget Time to Live within our means

  1. The problem is that Governments are simply unable to adjust with the nimbleness that you, quite rightly, suggest. During times of prosperity, Governments grow because money is flowing well in society. New departments are created, mini-empires are built, and generally, the inevitable bad aspects of Government run amok. When economies enter declines, it’s almost impossible to undo any of this stuff.

  2. well then no more fire dept. they spend 5, mill a year, so how do other towns do it. hummmmmmm,


  3. Anonymous:

    well then no more fire dept. they spend 5, mill a year, so how do other towns do it. hummmmmmm,

    Ask the homeowner on Erie Ave how the volunteers worked out for them? No offense intended, but the time factor from when the call to 911 was made, to the alarm being sounded for volunteers, for them to wake up, drive the the fire house, get the truck and arrive at Erie ave had to be 10-15 minutes. The critical time in which the fire could have been knocked down if the response time was 5 mins or less, as with a paid department.
    So I know you want 27 more workers in the street dept…but your job can be outsourced. the FD cannot.

  4. Well stated #3

  5. who the hell is taking about the street dept. I don’t; know what they have or don;t.
    this is about budget. the hole town can be outsourced . who told you that the fire dept is untouchable are you high. the town council can shut down the hole town and call in the state police in to. they did it in north halden in the 90’s
    so wake up.

  6. We already have 13 volunteer firefighters (see https://rfd.ridgewoodnj.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=75 )
    but it is my understanding taxpayers still pay overtime because the current contract contains a clause that prevents volunteers from filling in for career firefighters who are out sick or injured. The volunteers are effectively only supplements to assist when the career staff goes out and the incident requires more assistance than is currently available.

  7. #5 what are you talking about in North Haledon? The state police will only come temporarily and even then the town has to pay a large fee.

  8. #5 North Haledon has 18 cops .


  9. Anonymous:

    who the hell is taking about the street dept. I don’t; know what they have or don;t.
    this is about budget. the hole town can be outsourced . who told you that the fire dept is untouchable are you high. the town council can shut down the hole town and call in the state police in to. they did it in north halden in the 90′s
    so wake up.

    Why the animosity towards the FD?
    You couldn’t pass the test? *based on your grammer I see why!*
    Are you the same poster that constantly whines about how your street dept used to have 27 overpaid workers?

  10. It’s “grammar”. Engine 31 seems redundant when all of the training and meals take place just down the road. You’ll hear every excuse why we need it, and how it reduces our insurance bills by a few bucks a year, but in reality it’s a pure luxury (on West Glen 0.9 miles from the main Fire HQ on East Glen) that takes the property off the ratables list. I also wonder how much it costs taxpayers to staff and operate Engine 31, including OT, and I wonder what the net benefit of paying for that is to taxpayers ? Has a cost benefit analysis on Engine 31, including the loss of property taxes because it’s off the ratables list, ever been done ?

  11. # 10. If I recall the only reason the two firehouses are on the same road is because the town council decided to put headquarters in a existing building. A few facts for you. In the 90’s hqts was on Hudson st. A new building was needed so the council at that time dpaid a expert to do a study to find the best location. The expert came back with 5 locations. You know where they put the firehouse after paying for the study location number 6. That’s right a place that was not recommended because it was in a flood zone and on the SAME street as engine 31. So our experts who we elect to do the right thing hired a expect to tell them what to do only they did what the expert told them not to do. Also my understanding is they only ALL eat together on holidays. Also another tid bit of info that firehouse is on land donated to the town. It’s there because someone died in a fire many years ago and the person who donated the land felt a firehouse was needed on the west side of town


  12. Anonymous:

    It’s “grammar”. Engine 31 seems redundant when all of the training and meals take place just down the road. You’ll hear every excuse why we need it, and how it reduces our insurance bills by a few bucks a year, but in reality it’s a pure luxury (on West Glen 0.9 miles from the main Fire HQ on East Glen) that takes the property off the ratables list. I also wonder how much it costs taxpayers to staff and operate Engine 31, including OT, and I wonder what the net benefit of paying for that is to taxpayers ? Has a cost benefit analysis on Engine 31, including the loss of property taxes because it’s off the ratables list, ever been done ?

    Well since you’re the ‘spelling police’ now, and so concerned about ‘ratables’, lets talk about a significant ratable.. The ‘Habernickel Park’, formerly Hoffmans Farm. At 10m valuation, it would represent almost $400,000 in tax revenue. If properly developed into luxury home, it could easily be $1.5mil +++ in tax revenues.
    If you look at the 2 dumps next to that firehouse, I’d guess it would bring in no more tax revenue than a house in the lawns.

  13. Thanks #11, interesting history. Putting the new Fire HQ AND Village Hall on a flood plain – brilliant ! I’m sure somebody made out on those deals if politicians were involved. But like I said, there are all sorts of excuses as to why we need Engine 31. The reality is, it’s a luxury. Why can’t we staff it with our capable volunteers on weekends ? Would that help in any way to reduce the OT budget ?

  14. Why should the career service firemen allow someone to do their job for free unless they’re out of personnel. That’s ridiculous. again mistakes were made by previous administrations now you want to penalize the firemen? If you feel the paid firemen are an unnecessary luxury move elsewhere!


  15. Anonymous:

    Thanks #11, …….. Why can’t we staff it with our capable volunteers on weekends ? Would that help in any way to reduce the OT budget ?

    Ok first make sure you ‘schedule fires on weekends only’.
    Thanks for the laugh.

  16. # 13 how do you classify it as a luxury. It was put there for a reason. That reason from I was told is a fire death in the heights section many years ago. It is town property but not because the town bought it was donated land. If the town experts years ago from what I was told never asked the real experts the firefighters. I’m sure if they would of listened to the real experts the firefighters both firehouses would not be on the same street and same side of town. So if you want your want your questions answered why don’t you ask the fire chief before assuming

  17. Ok first make sure you ‘schedule fires on weekends only’.
    Thanks for the laugh.

    Nice vote of confidence in our volunteers ! So they can’t fill in for someone who is sick or injured, and they can’t staff our redundant Engine 31 on weekends out of their regular work week… Why should the career service firemen allow someone to do their job for free when the taxpayers will just forever keep paying more and more OT ? Like usual, there’s all sorts of excuses why suggestions to reduce the cost are called “penalizing the firemen”. No qualms about penalizing the taxpayers though.


  18. Anonymous:

    If you feel the paid firemen are an unnecessary luxury move elsewhere!

    Ditto for those who oppose the BoE and think teachers are part timers. If you don’t like it, move elsewhere !

  19. Hey #18, Tell me what town does NOT have teachers working part time hours. And should the Fire Department be expecting your Volunteer Firefighter Application anytime soon?


  20. Anonymous:

    Ok first make sure you ‘schedule fires on weekends only’.
    Thanks for the laugh.

    Nice vote of confidence in our volunteers ! So they can’t fill in for someone who is sick or injured, and they can’t staff our redundant Engine 31 on weekends out of their regular work week… Why should the career service firemen allow someone to do their job for free when the taxpayers will just forever keep paying more and more OT ? Like usual, there’s all sorts of excuses why suggestions to reduce the cost are called “penalizing the firemen”. No qualms about penalizing the taxpayers though.

    Now you’re going to tell me the volunteers have the same level and number of months of intial and recurrent training as the career firefighters?
    I’m all for volunteers, but when public safety depends upon a particular staffing level, you must be able to guarantee those levels.
    I’ll agree to the use of volunteers to fight fires under the direction of the professional career firefighters if you agree to do the same percentage of volunteers at the board of ed to lower my taxes.
    fair is fair.

  21. #17 that firehouse is staffed with overtime firemen ? Do you know this as a fact ?

  22. Clearly #17 has no clue what he is talking about.

  23. To the person asking the questions about Volunteer Firefighters manning Engine Company #31. As a volunteer firefighter for Ridgewood for many years I have no interest in going to the firehouse and waiting for a call. I prefer to spend time with my family and I would rather the career staff call me when I am needed. Thanks for your support but your not helping.

  24. 57 years in town , come on what a scam. we older one’s know what we see. my home burns screw it let it burn down. I have very good top rate coverage.

  25. can you say 500 hundred grand in over time in the paid fire and pd, thank you.

    not good.

  26. #25 can you show me or tell me where you are arriving at that number. If you have the facts show it you will be more creditable. If your assuming you know what that means !


  27. Anonymous:

    57 years in town , come on what a scam. we older one’s know what we see. my home burns screw it let it burn down. I have very good top rate coverage.

    What is your problem? If you have actually lived here for 57 years,( which I think is pure bullshit,) your would see what a great job our paid firefighters do, saving dwellings and lives.
    Just because you don’t care if your dump burns to the ground, don’t expect the rest of us to agree with you.

  28. #24. That’s fine. I’m sure they will let your home burn if you want them to. If I’m your neighbor they can protect mine while yours burns !

  29. #20, Charlie, Tax payers can move if they don’t like the cost of living in RWD

  30. No question having one of the top eleven Fire Depts in NJ is a great benefit – but it is a luxury. Only 4 municipalities in Bergen County have career fire supression depts. Less than 3% of the total incident calls between 2010-12 were fires vs. +35% for rescue & emergency service calls, and 22% for alarm activations. The operating cost is reasonable and helps to make Ridgewood an attractive community to live in, no question. But the operating budget ignores the long-term cost for new equipment & buildings, as well as annual salary, step wage and longetivity increases well in excess of both private sector wage growth and inflation for the last 15 years. Add in very generous defined benefit pension & healthcare benefits for life vs. an average retirement age of 52, and the fixed, long-term costs to taxpayers escalate rapidly. Is it redundant to have 27 EMTs at RFD when Valley’s EMS department has 80 staff members including Paramedics, Registered Nurses and EMTs providing 24/7/365 paramedic services including Advanced Life Support (ALS) units ? Does it make sense to have a three person crew on duty 24 hours a day at Engine 31 in response to resident concerns about serious fires in the mid 1940s ? This blog post is about living within our means, so we need to ask these questions of all taxpayer funded entities, including the BoE.


  31. Anonymous:

    #17 that firehouse is staffed with overtime firemen ? Do you know this as a fact ?

    There is one Engine Company with a three person crew on duty 24 hours a day

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