Tommy Mann 

For The Record

City leaders met briefly this past Monday in a regularly scheduled session of city council and moved forward on two important agenda items.

City councilmembers in the City of West Orange met at City Hall on Monday, Aug. 22, and unanimously approved the city budget for 2016-2017 and also approved a motion to move forward on the demolition of five properties in the city.

The properties, some of which have been vacant and in need of repair or removal since Hurricane Ike, are just the latest in a continued effort to keep West Orange beautiful and moving forward.

The structures on the most recent list of substandard structures are located at 1003 Albany, 2019 Bonnie, 2007 Crabtree, 1015 Lansing and 2431 Smith Street.

At its June 13 meeting, council approved a motion to allow 30 days for property owners to make contact with city officials if they wished to appeal the order of demolition by making repairs or renovations or establish a reason the property should be removed from the list.

Attorney Alan Sanders who represents the City of West Orange in this effort, participated in Monday’s meeting via a conference call and stated no one has contacted him in order to halt any potential demolition.

“We sent information by certified mail to all of the property owners of record and to the lien holders of all properties and I have not been given notice of any dispute of any properties,” Sanders informed council. “No permits have been issued for repairs or renovations, so my recommendation is to go forward on the demolition.”

Mike Stelly, chief of the West Orange Police Department and the Public Works Director for the city, stated the property owner for the structure at 1015 Lansing had obtained a permit for demolition approximately two weeks ago, but no action had since been started at the property.

Council unanimously approved a motion to move forward with the demolition process.

In other news, city council voted unanimously to approve the city’s 2016-2017 budget of $3.7 million.

A public hearing was held prior to the start of Monday’s council meeting, but no citizens attended to speak in opposition of the proposed budget.

The operations portion of the budget is $3.4 million with the largest portion obligated for the West Orange Police Department at $1.3 million. More than $600,000 will be used for sanitation, $521,000 for the street department and more than $435,000 in general administration. The remainder of the operations budget will be utilized by various other departments including parks and facilities, municipal court and the fire department.

Approximately $255,000 will be directed for capital outlay purchases in 2016-2017 for the street department, the police department, fire department and parks and facilities.

The proposed tax rate of $0.42500 per $100 valuation is the same tax rate set by the city in 2015. For a home valued at $100,000, property taxes would be $425 per year.

Although the proposed tax rate has not changed, some residents of West Orange could see an increase in property tax due to an increase in property values.

The first of two public hearings on the newly proposed tax rate will be held at 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 25, at City Hall, which is located at 2700 Western Ave. in West Orange. A second public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 29 at City Hall.