New Jersey Suburb Hit Hard By Budget Woes With its new fiscal year set to begin on July 1, the affluent suburb of Summit, N.J., is one of many places across the country that's been forced to make tough decisions to balance its budget. As a result of a $700,000 cut in state aid, the city will raise property taxes and decrease the size of the police force, angering many local residents. A large portion of Summit's residents work in finance and real estate, so the economic downturn has hit the city particularly hard.
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New Jersey Suburb Hit Hard By Budget Woes

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New Jersey Suburb Hit Hard By Budget Woes

New Jersey Suburb Hit Hard By Budget Woes

New Jersey Suburb Hit Hard By Budget Woes

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With its new fiscal year set to begin on July 1, the affluent suburb of Summit, N.J., is one of many places across the country that's been forced to make tough decisions to balance its budget. As a result of a $700,000 cut in state aid, the city will raise property taxes and decrease the size of the police force, angering many local residents. A large portion of Summit's residents work in finance and real estate, so the economic downturn has hit the city particularly hard.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From Summit, New Jersey, Scott Gurian reports.

SCOTT GURIAN: Walking through downtown on a recent afternoon, Carlos Stalgis(ph) says those fears have played out.

BLOCK: It looks like the empty places here are increasing quite a lot. So it looks like the town is dying. The downtown of Summit is dying. So that doesn't make it encouraging for you to want to come here.

GURIAN: Susan Hunter is director of sales and marketing at Lois Schneider Realtors. She says the housing market has picked up full force.

BLOCK: We understand that the commercial market trails behind us, but it will come back. And it will come back first to towns like Summit, where we have a population that will support good shops and good restaurants, and all of that.

GURIAN: But the recent elimination of two police positions offers proof that the city's budget is still tight. The cuts concerned many local residents, including travel agent and former Mayor Walter Long.

BLOCK: I was very upset about that because of safety issues being a prime concern. And I think if you looked back over the years, our police department has not increased in size at all. And the demand on the police officers - are getting greater and greater.

GURIAN: The city isn't planning any layoffs or furloughs just yet. But behind the scenes, it's urging departments to save money by sharing services. And Mayor Glatt says it's here that he applies a lesson he's learned from the economic meltdown.

BLOCK: There was so much excess pre the crash, if you will, that I think some of our values got skewed as a community and as - I can say generally - as a society. We were having million-dollar homes that were being torn down so a $3 million home could be put up. We're not seeing that in the community like we were. So in some respects, I think maybe this was a healthy reset.

GURIAN: For NPR News, I'm Scott Gurian.

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