Written by Middletown Township Public Information Office
Friday, 24 April 2009
MIDDLETOWN, NJ - The Township Committee continues to seek additional cost-saving measures and revenue sources that will further the community's commitment to preserving a high quality of life while minimizing the impact of an anticipated $2.4 million loss in revenues.
The revenue loss stems primarily from reductions in state aid, permit fees and interest earned on bank deposits. To minimize the impact on local property taxpayers, township officials have cut more than $5 million in departmental expenditure requests, garnered $1.3 million in grants, requested a 50% deferral on pension contributions and implemented new cost-saving measures. As a result, the 2009 proposed budget introduced on April 20 totals $62,806,757, which is $85,000 less than the final 2008 budget of $62,892,648.
"At this point, the challenge the community faces is where to trim an already tight budget without sacrificing services and finding new revenue sources in a complicated economy where core revenues such as permit fees, state aid and interest on deposits dwindle while expensive state mandates continue to escalate," said Middletown Mayor Pamela M. Brightbill.
In order to maintain essential services such as police protection, building inspections and leaf and brush collection and snow removal, the proposed municipal tax rate would increase 3.02 cents to 36.08 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, costing the average owner of a home assessed at $433,900 an additional $11 per month. Each penny on the tax rate raises $1,142,936 in revenue. Of the $1.3 million in grants the township is slated to receive this year, $522,175 will defray operating costs associated with community services such as the Senior Center, Clean Communities, and Crossroads, and law enforcement activities that target drinking and driving, underage drinking, seat belt usage and pedestrian safety. Another $785,521 will defray the cost of purchasing needed fire equipment, furthering efforts to preserve two historic structures and offering programs that reduce community's energy usage.
Measures being implemented to further enhance the township's long history of fiscal efficiency include:
The appointment of an in-house Township Engineer producing an expected savings of $100,000 annually.
Requiring planning and zoning board applicants to fund township costs associated with reviewing their development applications. Revisions to the escrow fee ordinance are expected to save $50,000 annually.
Establishing an Early Retirement Incentive program.
Suspension of Township Committee salaries for 2009.
A continued moratorium of overtime for non-essential personnel without approval of the Township Administrator.
Eliminating health and pension benefits for Sewerage Authority members to the extent allowed by state law. Evaluating community recreation programs to ensure that program fees, at a minimum, cover the Township's cost to provide them.
Utilizing previously forfeited LOSAP benefits for volunteers towards this year's required contribution.
In addition, Middletown has requested more than $3 million in federal stimulus money for projects that can save the township money, improve the town infrastructure, and further the community's commitment to using green technologies whenever possible. These projects include Leonardo Outfall and Stormwater Drainage Improvements, construction of a state-mandated Truck Wash and several road improvements.
Historically the municipal tax rate is about 20 percent of the tax bill homeowners receive. Another 19 percent is the county's portion of the bill. The final 61 percent goes to school taxes.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 20 at 8 p.m. The township's proposed budget can be found on the Internet at www.middletownnj.org.