BRICK – The governing body adopted the $104,245,623 municipal budget for 2019 during a recent council meeting, up some $1.6 million over last year’s budget, which represents under a penny per $100 of assessed property value.
The property tax levy is $73,782,168 which would result in an annual increase of $26.47 on the tax bill of an average assessed home of $294,000.
Council President Andrea Zapcic said the township experienced increases in the cost of gasoline, pension contributions, and in the salary and wage budget for dispatch, emergency medical services and police, all 24/7 operations.
“When we experience vacancies, we often need to fill the shifts on overtime, and that creates unanticipated increases,” she said.
The spending plan utilizes $8,546,711 in surplus funds, leaving a balance of about $9.8 million.
“Every year we stress how important it is to have a healthy surplus balance…which shows the fiscal health of the community,” said Zapcic.
“It is not a savings account that should be dipped into to offset the amount raised by taxes,” she said. “It is a part of the budget that requires replenishment, which is why fiscally sound municipalities like Brick Township apply no more than half to the budget. The more we deplete, the more we need to raise in next year’s budget.”
The council members voted unanimously in favor of the adopted budget, except for lone Republican Jim Fozman, who said he wanted to use surplus funds from a forgiven $5 million Sandy loan so there would be no tax increase.
Mayor John G. Ducey said the township CFO Maureen Lafferty-Berg recommends using the funds to pay down township debt.
“I’d rather see out debt go down so we don’t have to pay as much,” Ducey said. “You’re going to pay it anyway on the other end.”
Fozman made a motion to have a “zero tax increase instead of paying down debt.” None of the other council members seconded his motion.
Afterwards, when council members could ask township CFO Maureen Lafferty-Berg (who attended the meeting) about the budget, Council President Andrea Zapcic asked what happens when anticipated revenues fall short.
For example, last year anticipated municipal court costs were $695,000, but they came in at about $100,00 less, Zapcic said.
“That happened in a couple of different places in the budget,” she noted. “How do we make that up?”
Lafferty-Berg said surplus was used to fill in for the shortfalls.
In other news, the governing body awarded a bid to Sabre Industries, Inc. in the amount of $41,070 for the purchase and delivery of a 150-foot communications pole to be located at the Drum Point Sports Complex.
That spot was chosen because the signal has to reach the mainland and over to the barrier island, explained Zapcic.
And finally, Mayor John G. Ducey and council members presented a resolution to Virginia Rettig, manager for the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, now celebrating its 80th anniversary.
The 50-mile long site comprised of 48,000 acres runs through 14 townships, with 883 acres located in Brick Township, home to the deCamp Wildlife Trail. The refuge can be accessed from the corner of Mantoloking Road and Adamston Road.
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m.