PARSIPPANY — Parsippany Republican Councilmembers Loretta Gragnani, Michael dePierro and Paul Carifi issued a press release opposing Mayor Soriano’s gradual reduction of the township budget’s reliance on utility surplus. Instead, they supported an immediate transfer of nearly $3 million of fiscal liability to Parsippany taxpayers. Indeed, the transfer of any amount of surplus was deemed by Councilwoman Gragnani to be “a non-starter with the Republican Council.”
After eight years of irresponsible management of Parsippany’s budget and utility surplus, Republican Council incumbents have flip-flopped to serve their own election-year needs. Their politically-expedient change of opinion on this issue will leave Parsippany’s taxpayers holding the bag on a 9% tax increase.
Since the beginning of Councilwoman Gragnani’s term in 2016, $8,655,000 has been transferred from the township’s utility surplus in order to balance the budget. Dating back to 2012, with the support of Council Members Carifi and dePierro, $11,660,000 has been transferred from the utility surplus to balance the budget.
These figures confirm that the dependency on using sewer and water utility funding to balance the Township budget was heavily accelerated by the Barberio administration and the all-Republican Councils of that time frame. Along with the unfunded use of zero-percent tax increases in the Mayoral election years of 2013 and 2017, this practice has led to a compounding drain on Parsippany’s fiscal health.
Mayor Soriano stated, “As Mayor, I have been very vocal about the need to eliminate our dependency on the sewer and water utilities to balance our budget. It is a poor fiscal management practice and puts future Township budgets, and thereby our taxpayers, in jeopardy. In 2018, upon taking office, we reduced the use of utility surplus by $245,000, and we did so again in 2019 by $100,000. These were small reductions, but necessary beginning steps forward.”
Speaking directly to the Republican Council members, the Mayor continued, “Should you and your colleagues wish to further reduce the use of utility surplus in the 2019 proposed budget, I am open to that discussion. Your suggested proposal of eliminating the utility surplus to off-set the current fund by $2,855,000 would result in a property tax increase of 9.26% ($175.86 on the average assessed home) – a significant increase that I am very surprised you would propose.”