The first Board of Commissioners meeting of 2013 brought the first specific talk of the challenges coming in this year's municipal budget process in Nutley.
Commissioner Thomas Evans began the discussion by telling the other commissioners that a temporary budget, representing a little more than 25 percent of the eventual 2013 municipal budget that gets passed, has to be introduced to meet state statutes.
Last year's budget contained a small tax increase of less than $100 for a home assessed at the then-township average.
"By our next meeting we need to start earnest discussions of the budget," Evans said. "We have to make sure we make it under the levy spending cap of 2.5 percent. We want to revisit this next time, and have conversations."
This year brings negotiations for new contracts for municipal employees and a new garbage hauling contract, two areas that will have major impacts on the budget, Evans said.
Mayor Alphonse Petracco asked about increases in employee pension costs, which he said have been a big problem in keeping tax rates from increasing.
Evans said the amount of increase will be less this year.
"It was running about $700,000 to $800,000 the last several years, but this year will be about $500,000," Evans said.
Another possible area of savings on spending increases will be health insurance, Evans said.
"The percentage of increase will go down, from 17 to 18 percent to about 10.5 percent," Evans said.
Commissioner Mauro Tucci said a new employee dental insurance plan just negotiated with Delta Dental will help.
"There will be no cost increase for 290 town employees," Tucci said.
"There's a vote for good teeth," Evans said, drawing a laugh from the other commissioners.
Still, Evans said the budget process will be difficult again this year.
"We have to start to talk about what we believe each of our department's costs will be," Evans said.