BRICK – The local tax rate would decrease for the first time in 30 years, said the mayor.
The Brick 2017 tax bill would be reduced by 0.5 cents, and the proposed $100.3 million budget is $4.4 million less than last year’s budget, said Mayor John G. Ducey.
The cut translates to a decrease of about $15 on the average home assessed at $294,100. The municipal tax rate would be 68.5 cents per $100 of assessed value under the proposed reduction.
Ducey proposed the spending plan and projected revenue plan at the February 21 council meeting. His budget has totaled a 1.9 percent increase over his four years as mayor, despite an increase in municipal spending, he said.
By comparison, he said that from 1990 until 2013 the average four year spending growth was 21.8 percent.
“When I was elected, I pledged to right the ship and restore fiscal responsibility and strength to Brick Township,” he said. “I implemented a 100-day plan in order to help accomplish those goals – a playbook which would have the hopeful result of stabilizing taxes.”
Ducey said that despite a tax cut, Brick has the most police officers in its history; has improved the Department of Public Works; has brought an entire inspection department in-house; has paved some $10 million worth of roads; has redone three parks, and more.
“Please remember that this is for the portion of your tax bill that the council and I have control over,” Ducey said. “Not included are the school board, the county, the library and the fire district.”
Recovery from Superstorm Sandy is still impacting the township budget, he said. The spending plan includes $1,484,000 in special emergency principal payoff for Sandy which equates to 1.44 cents on the tax rate. This would be the township’s final payment for this cost.
Although the township’s ratables base increased by $18.66 million this year, it is still down $341.7 million due to the storm.
The introduced budget includes $13,493,521 in debt service payments.
When Ducey took office in 2014, the township debt was $168 million. He said as part of his 100-day plan he wanted to reduce the net debt by $6 million, but because of the administration’s debt reduction plan, that number has been reduced by $18,293,000. The township debt is now $151,310,134, he said.
“The surplus is essentially the township’s savings account. Having a healthy surplus available is a sign of fiscal responsibility and strength,” Ducey said. “There were several years where the township had less than $100,000 remaining in surplus, which put us in a very precarious position financially speaking.”
As a result of the debt reduction and high surplus, the township has been upgraded from an AA- to an AA rating from Standard and Poor’s, which is used to inform investors about the township’s creditworthiness, and can result in lower borrowing costs for the township, Ducey said.
Over the next several council meetings, various department heads will present their detailed budgets. On March 7, the Police Department and the Administration are scheduled to present their budgets. On March 21, the land use department will make a presentation. On April 11, the Department of Public Works will make a presentation. On April 25, it will be the Recreation Department’s turn.
The Brick Township Board of Education would be presenting their budget during a special budget hearing on April 27 at the schools.
The formal municipal budget introduction will be at the March 21 Brick council meeting, to be held at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.
The next council meeting will be on March 7 at 7 p.m.