On behalf of the Borough Council and taxpayers of the Borough of Fair Haven, please accept this letter as a brief summary of the impact that Governor Corzine’s proposed budget will have on Fair Haven.
I will not recite in detail the great efforts we have gone to produce a tax rate reduction in our town, but in summary, we reduced our existing and proposed bond debt, we consolidated our Construction Office with a neighboring Borough, we eliminated or consolidated positions, and restructured our Department of Public Works and Engineering Department. We share tax collection, animal control, and health department services with neighboring towns, and share custodial work with our school district. We also are looking to consolidate Police Dispatch, and there is an ongoing study to share or regionalize Police services.
In short, we are taking all the right steps at our Borough level to be responsible to our taxpayers.
As a result of taking these steps, and as a result of careful planning, we were able to introduce a Budget that resulted in a one-half cent per $100.00 of assessed valuation decrease. This Budget was premised upon a constant funding level of State Aid. As you are aware, our State Aid has not increased in at least seven years, and we did not expect an increase this year.
However, less than two weeks after introducing our Budget, we were advised, in the Governor’s Budget Address, that state aid would see a cut of 10%, allocated solely on the size of our population. In reality, our cut ended up at 21%, while larger towns and cities saw cuts of as little as 6%.
The allocation of cuts in Aid is patently unfair, and based on an arbitrary and capricious statistic: population size. Are our residents worth less to the State of New Jersey than those of Camden, Newark, Trenton, et al? I hope not. Yet, based upon State Aid, the Governor allocates only $98.00 per Fair Haven resident, while Camden’s residents are allocated $567.10 per resident.
Are Camden’s residents worth more than 5 times those of Fair Haven?
In real dollars, Fair Haven’s loss of $155,240.00 will leave us no choice but to increase the tax levy to make up for the lost aid. Absent our ability to find other places to cut spending (and believe me, we are looking) we face a potential increase of at least 1 cent, instead of a decrease of one-half cent.
It is obvious that there is a fair way to allocate the cuts: an across the board cut, hitting every town equally. In fact, simply cutting 10% from the COMPTRA aid, and allocating that cut evenly to every City, Town and Borough, across the board, will save the State an additional $21 Million.
I urge you, on behalf of our taxpayers, to address this funding inequity during the budget sessions.
Thank you for your time and service to our residents.
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Pallone's Town Hall Meeting, Red Bank, August 25, 2009