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Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Soriano, Parsippany Republicans in budget spat

By Nikita Biryukov, March 14 2019 3:31 pm

Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano and the town’s three Republican councilmembers are in a spat over who, exactly, is responsible for raising the town’s taxes.

The fight started when Councilmembers Mike dePierro, Loretta Gragnani and Council President Paul Carifi, Jr. voted to cut a property tax increase proposed by Soriano by roughly 40%.

In a joint statement put out by the three, Gragnani hit Soriano for deferring $2.9 million from the town’s water and sewer utilities while hiking water rates.

“Enough is enough. Government needs to live within its means and stop squeezing taxpayers for every last penny,” Gragnani said. “If the last two years of Murphy and Soriano have shown voters anything, it’s that unchecked Democratic control of our state and town is untenable.”

But, the practice of pulling money from those utilities began in 2012 under former Mayor James Barberio, Soriano said. Since then, $11,660,000 has been pulled from the utility funds.

Since Gragnani took office in 2016, $8,655,000 has been diverted from the utilities.

“These numbers, based in fact, confirm that the dependency on using sewer and water funding to balance the township budget was started by the Barberio administration and the all-Republican Councils,” Soriano said. “As mayor, I have been very vocal about the need to eliminate our dependency on the sewer and water utilities to balance the budget.”

Republicans held full control of Parsippany’s local government before Soriano and his running mates, councilwomen Janice McCarthy and Emily Peterson, ousted Republican incumbents in 2017.

The three remaining Republicans aren’t looking to turn over their seats, nor are they inclined to take a hit on the chin from Soriano.

“While we appreciate you wanting to shift blame on tax increases to us, it’s not credible.  It is you and Governor Murphy who continually push for higher taxes; the Republican Council majority is doing all we can to reduce them,” the three said in a joint statement. “Councilwoman Gragnani’s objection to you deferring money from the water and sewer utility was in the context of you raising water and sewer rates at the same time, a move that effectively raises another tax on our residents.  We hope this clears up any confusion.  Thank you.”

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