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Verona Preliminary Budget Holds Line on Taxes

The tentative 2013 budget for Verona doesn't include a tax increase, but some borough officials want a more thorough document.

Verona residents might not experience a real estate tax increase in 2013, but some officials and residents still have a problem with the preliminary budget.

On Tuesday, Verona Council approved a $1.3 million preliminary budget that keeps the tax rate steady with a 4-2 vote. Councilmembers Rhoda Gemellas-Worf and Sandy Drabicki-Bell dissented. Councilman Dom Conte was absent.

The current millage rate is 8.0 mills, meaning a resident pays $800 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Borough Manager Bonnie Conway said she used the same tax revenue numbers as last year, however, those figures could change due to the county-wide reassessments. The county has yet to release certified numbers to the borough for budget purposes, meaning officials might have to amend the budget to reflect correct numbers early next year.

Gemellas-Worf and Drabicki-Bell said they have problems with the way the information is presented on the budget.

Gemellas-Worf said the numbers don't reflect accurate accounting, and Drabicki-Bell said the "useless" document is not as detailed as those in surrounding communities.

"The layout is not user-friendly," Gemellas-Worf said. "I don't like the way the budget is being done. I've expressed that for three years.

"We don't have accurate accounting, and I feel it needs to be refined."

She also said the budget doesn't include a $30,000 grant match for the borough streetscape project.

Officials agreed to pay $3,000 to upgrade the computer system and accounting program at the borough building earlier this year, but Drabicki-Bell said she wants to be able to see how much money is included in a certain account and how much has been spent to date.

"Things haven't changed," she said. "We don't have anything to go by here."

Several residents agreed. Resident Nancy Carpenter said she wants to see a change.

"If (the budget) is in the same format as last year, I can't tell where my money is going or how it's being spent," she said. "I have no clue, and I for one, want to be able to tell how my money is being spent."

Others said the budget process has worked for several years.

"I don't have a problem with what we have now," said Councilman Tony Futules.

A copy of the preliminary budget is on display at the borough building. A special meeting to pass the final budget has been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 27, at 9 a.m. at the borough building.

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