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HomeLocal NewsParsippany Budget with 2.57% Tax Hike Passes; Musella Lone No Vote

Parsippany Budget with 2.57% Tax Hike Passes; Musella Lone No Vote

Unions Reappear to Support Budget: Musella Doesn’t Back Down

PARSIPPANY — On Tuesday, May 18, Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council passed the 2023 Budget with a 4-1 Vote; Musella was the lone dissenter.

Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr.

“The overall increase is 2.57%, and the municipal tax rate increase is 3.76%. That’s a $100.00 annual municipal impact on the average home or $8.33 monthly. We are putting forward a responsible balance budget that provides the services our community deserves,” said Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr.

Mayor James Barberio said, “The budget process started last year with individual meetings with the department heads. We have answered questions from public members and, on multiple occasions, met with less informed council members to help them understand the process. We have taken every suggestion seriously and reviewed each with the finance team auditors and department heads. We considered all possible suggestions and clarified why it was not possible. The important part to remember is that this budget is built on a strong financial foundation that proves we meet our responsibilities to serve our residents today while preparing for the future.”

“This budget does not kick the can down the road as some have done in the past like some would want us to do. Most importantly, this budget does not play politics with people’s lives. Along with the council president of Loretta Gragnani, we met with Councilman Justin Musella on two occasions. We did our best to help him understand how we see the budget. After consulting with our BA (Jamie Cryan) and our CFO (Len Ho), auditors, and pertinent department heads, it was clear that the proposed cuts were unrealistic and would harm our town. Although Justin and I disagree, I respect his opinion on the budget. I aim to ensure we provide a fiscally responsible budget for today and for years to come,” he said.

Councilman Frank Neglia responded, “When the Finance Committee met in March, the budget increase was 5.1%.  We found this to be unacceptable.  Through hard work from the Administration and Mayor, it was reduced to 2.57%.  That is significant.  Any further cuts would impede services and hurt the town significantly.  It is a sound budget.

Mike Polsinelli, Business Agent at IBEW Local 102

Mike Polsinelli, Business Agent at IBEW Local 102, stated, “I’ve been working in Parsippany for close to 45 years. I’ve dealt with every mayor and council person in 45 years. I think the budget is solid. Our office is right here in Parsippany. I work on this stuff. I’m not a CFO, and I’m not a financial guy. Our company is worth over a billion dollars. So I do know a little bit about funds. Nobody wants anything to be raised. Understood. But if you want your town to operate, which everybody here wants it to operate, they cut things. Everybody was issued the budget. Everybody had a chance to review the budget. When Justin says he wants to know where the tax cuts are, I guess he didn’t read the budget. He doesn’t even pay taxes in this town. Most of us are homeowners. He doesn’t pay taxes in this town. He rents an apartment. So he wants to get behind this big paper bag curtain and be a hero to say, I’m gonna save the town a million dollars. The people behind him better wake up because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Musella fired back at Polsinelli, “Renters do pay taxes. It’s included in the leases. And I think you know that as a smart business person. When you pay a lease, it includes the taxes that are on the property. Thank you for bringing that up. Secondly, we’re talking about alternatives, and that’s what we’re here to do. My sole job is to develop solutions and policies that will improve the overall quality of life in town. Putting new eyes onto this budget reveals that we can make edits related to the vacant positions. And it’s not my goal to tax you, your business, and everybody else in here a dollar more than they need to be taxed. And when we allocate money for people who aren’t showing up to work, how could services be impacted?”

Parsippany resident Hank Heller

Resident Hank Heller said, “I’m really upset that we have people who come in here, and they may do business here, but I think that it’s important that we all express ourselves with respect toward each other. And I think the process we have gone through here in Parsippany over these past few months has been outstanding. I was very, very strongly and still am against the PLAs. You know that because I spoke to you about it. I let you know what I feel. You voted to do something else, and I respect that, and I walked away from the problem. But I’m very offended that people are coming here tonight. And point out that Mr. Musella or Mr. Carifi have not done the right thing when I think what has been done here is the most right thing I’ve seen in many years. Instead, I see many people here that I’ve seen, some of whom I’ve seen in the past, at other meetings at the Parsippany Hills High School. I was very resentful when we had many people from the unions who didn’t live in town to come and put pressure on what was happening. I know that many people did not come. Many people would not speak because they are intimidated. I am not intimidated and don’t want our government to be intimidated. And I wanted everybody to know that what we’ve done here has been right. Yes, Mr. Musella has asked hard questions, and you’ve given him hard answers. And I think that’s to be respected. But I don’t think we should be pushed around by anyone. Or anybody who comes along with busloads of people.”

Councilman Justin Musella said, “Based on my experience on Council, it is beyond obvious that these union members are nothing more than weapons in the Mayor’s political game to intimidate residents and suppress public comment at public meetings and hearings. I have noticed that union members suddenly appear to support the Mayor on an issue if he faces strong opposition from the community. This was blatantly evident during the PLA mandate ordinance and last night’s Town Council meeting on the budget and tax hike. I call on my colleagues to advocate for our residents and join me in a call to end this unacceptable manipulation that has no place in our community.”

Parsippany-Troy Hills Council Vice President Michael dePierro

Councilman Michael dePierro said, “We need to provide the increase for employees at 2%. It’s way below the cost of living. To meet all of our requirements, there’s a compromise. We did compromise on this budget. We did cut it from 5%. It’s the best budget we could come up with at this point in time. Everything else has gone up. Benefits have gone up. Gas has gone up. The price of materials has gone up. And for us to have just a two-and-a-half percent increase to the homeowners is as prudent as we could be at this point in time.”

Councilman Paul Carifi said, “I want to start off with Mr. Musella. I have all the respect in the world for him. You know, there’s gonna be things we disagree on. I made cuts. He wants further cuts. I’m listening to the professionals: The auditor, CFO, and BA, and they say we cannot go any lower. Or we’re going to have to eliminate services. The residents in our town count on it. Some of the cuts you had thrown out were $200,000 for Parks and Forestry. Another thing that you brought up was to cut $20,000 from the Office of Emergency Management (OEM). I spent over 25 years in law enforcement. The OEM deals with emergencies and public safety in the town. You can’t cut $20,000 from that when we have an emergency. You won’t have resources for these people to handle this. God forbid something happens here.”

“You wanted to cut $100,000 from legal. We have four contracts coming up. So there will be extra-legal things, and we also have other potential litigation pending for which we may need money.  You brought up cutting $90,000 from the Summer Concerts and the Farmer’s Market. I’ve always done my research and talked to residents, and our residents want the services. We’ve invested $30,000 in this budget for Economic Development, which is important—a $30,000 investment. We bring in businesses and work with the existing businesses. If Economic Development can bring more businesses into our town, that’s more revenue. These are wise investments.

Parsippany-Troy Hills Councilman Justin Musella

We wouldn’t be able to provide the services that we do that our residents enjoy. I’m sure for $8.33 cents per month. You want to keep your parks open on the weekend. You want to maintain your garbage pickup twice a week. You want to have the public safety in this town. We went down to 81 deployable police officers, down 20 plus officers. We can’t have that. We had residents coming up telling us four or five months ago. I’ll pay more. I want the police. Burglaries are up; car thefts are up. We, we can’t do it. I’m relying on our experts,” Carifi said.

Councilman Justin Musella stated before voting no on the budget, “The Mayor and I ran our campaign on a promise to end the practice of overburdening taxpayers with large tax increases. It was unacceptable for the previous administration to raise taxes at these levels with no thought on the impact it would have. It is also unacceptable for this administration to do the same. I presented a specific plan to make the budget more acceptable and bring back fiscal responsibility to our township, but this fell on deaf ears. I worked hard to find a compromise with the Mayor, and I was disappointed no aspects of my proposal were entertained. I voted no on last year’s budget as it was out of touch and unreasonable, and I’ll vote no on this budget for the exact same reason. Taxpayers need to see budgetary restraint and leadership, now more than ever. I hope my colleagues on the council join me in voting no on this budget and supporting my call for serious consideration of further cuts.”

Following the 4-1 adoption of the budget, Mayor James Barberio is seen leaning over to speak with Councilman Justin Musella.
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Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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