Council: Finance Revamp; Prop Maintenance, Film Credit…
In the wake of scandal and shoddy oversight in recent years, the mayor and council on Tuesday voted unanimously to create a department of finance for Secaucus, appointing interim tax collector Nick Goldsack to the new post of director of finance.
Goldsack, who has filled in for admitted bilker and jail-bound former tax collector Alan Bartolozzi since 2009, takes over an $88,000-a-year position created to collect taxes and oversee finances for the town.
Mayor Mike Gonnelli said the $800K tax office scandal, coupled with the discovery of millions of dollars in uncollected funds and old bond money never used necessitated the move. Gonnelli said as much as $10M went uncollected or unused over the last decade.
The mayor said the new position carries the dual roles but pays a salary less than the $100K Bartolozzi would have been making as tax collector had he still been on the job.
FILM PUSH: The reinstatement of New Jersey’s tax credit for film and TV productions is seen as a possible boost to Secaucus, said 1st Ward Councilman Gary Jeffas.
The tax credit was nixed in 2010 by the Christie administration but brought back this year through 2015. It offers productions with 60% of funding in New Jersey a 20% credit for qualified expenses like operations, construction, and photography.
The incentive helped a few productions base their sets in Secaucus, including NBC’s “Mercy” in 2009-10.
“When you see the stats of what a production like that brings to a town – they stay in our hotels, have lunch in our delis and eat in our
restaurants – it’s a tremendous amount of money,” said Gonnelli. “The average job is a $50K job.”
Jeffas added: “We’re hoping this will bring them back into the area and the warehouses that aren’t being used.”
Gonnelli has been in talks with Hartz and other players to work on getting productions back to town. “This could be a boon for us,” he said.
HEAT WAVE: The oppressive heat in recent weeks has been a blessing for the finances of the town pool. After 2nd Ward Councilman John Bueckner in June reported the pool to be $8,000 behind 2010 figures, the facility is now $17,000 ahead of last year.
Bueckner said the hot weather coupled with earlier openings and later closings has boosted revenue.
The pool had brought in $150K through mid July, compared with $133K last year.
“We’re doing very well on the pool end of it,” he said.
REC CENTER: Bueckner said the rec center now has 2,463 members, up from 1,800 in 2010 when the membership was significantly more costly. He also said a small cafe added for members’ convenience has turned into an unexpected money-maker with about $3,000 in revenue.
Gonnelli said two grants totaling up to $10K will go to build a meditation garden in rear of the rec center. The mayor, who said he saw a bald eagle near the spot recently, said the outdoor space can be used for classes in yoga or thai-chi or just for residents to relax or pray.
PROPERTY MAINTENANCE: Third Ward Councilman Susan Pirro is urging residents to report any overgrown or ill-maintained properties to the newly constituted board of health.
An inspector will be dispatched to review the complaint.
Clancy said the town is moving to adopt international property maintenance codes to clarify guidelines for keeping up the town’s appearance.
He also noted that a common complaint of wild animals and trash can often be avoided by residents following current codes for garbage. He said town code requires garbage to be in a receptacle, not placed outside in a bag. The town also requires that garbage not be put out for collection until 6 p.m. the night before.
RIBBON-CUTTING: Second Ward Councilman Jim Clancy said the construction work to revamp Blondel and Charles Street parks is nearing completition.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Aug. 13.