Stafford Adopts $48M Budget

Stafford Town Hall (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

STAFFORD – On May 21, the new members of the Stafford Township Council adopted their first municipal budget with the help of new administrator Matthew von der Hayden.

The 2019 municipal operating budget totals $48,207,774.49, with $37,619,532.57 to be raised by taxation.

The tax rate for 2019 is calculated at 0.894. Stafford residents will see less than a $20 increase on their municipal property tax payment from 2018 to 2019.

According to von der Hayden, the average residence is assessed at $329,009.89 for 2019. The average tax payment for 2018 was estimated at $2,921.61. For 2019, that number is $2,941.35. Thus, residents will see an increase of $19.74 per household on their residential tax payment this year.

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The municipal budget is decreasing overall from 2018 to 2019 by approximately $820,513. In 2018, residents saw $49,028,287.94 in general appropriations.

According to von der Hayden, the major decreases stem from a $59,000 decrease in administration salary and wages as well as a $437,500 decrease in employee group insurance.

One of the major increases to the budget is due to a $456,562 increase to salary and wages, “which were contractual increases from the 2017-2020 contracts,” von der Hayden wrote in an email.

Other notable increases:

  • Debt service: $431,086.90 from a bond issued in 2018
  • PERS/PFRS Pension Contribution: $288,307.08 determined by the State of NJ Pension System
  • Community Disaster Loan Payment: $253,609.94

“FEMA provided the amortization schedule at the end of 2018 which resulted in a four-year repayment schedule instead of a five-year schedule which increased the loan payment,” von der Hayden told Jersey Shore Online.

Von der Hayden began as Stafford’s new administrator in April 2019, so the township has been working overtime to put out a timely budget. He cited “working with the prior contracts and obligations identified in the increases” [as noted] as one of the major challenges to this budget.

While von der Hayden and the township council agree that the 2019 municipal budget is a fiscally sound one, they do recognize a few areas for improvement for the future.

“We are working on developing a road rating to identify the roads that are in need first. We are also going to be developing a capital plan that looks longer term which will help identify essentials in the township, so these needs do not result in emergency expenditures,” wrote von der Hayden. “This planning process should improve the budget process going forward.”