Toms River Budget: No Tax Rate Increase

Toms River business administrator Don Guardian presents the 2018 municipal budget (Photo by Chris Lundy)

TOMS RIVER – The 2018 budget carries with it no tax increase, officials said during a presentation at the most recent Township Council meeting.

The tax rate will remain the same, at 63 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a home valued at the township average of $272,000, the average bill would be $1,728. Essentially, your municipal taxes will be the same as they were last year.

This article contains information about the municipal budget only, and does not include taxes from other entities, like the school district or the county.

The total budget will be $124,867,859, a reduction from last year’s final budget of $126,383,999.

The amount to be raised in taxes will be $82,089,203, an increase of $529,509 from last year’s $81,559,694.

Resident Bill McPhail (left), questions officials, like business administrator Don Guardian, about the budget. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

The state used to cap pay raises, but that law expired, business administrator Don Guardian said. Fortunately for taxpayers, six of the township’s unions already had contracts negotiated before this. They will be earning, on average, a 2 percent raise through 2021.

At a recent meeting, a group of employees that are not covered by unions received a 1.5 percent raise if they had been hired prior to 2017. Anyone hired after that, did not receive a raise.

A challenge to planning for the township’s financial future is that two large property owners were appealing their taxes, he said. The Ocean County Mall and the Ciba-Geigy property were both seeking to lower their taxes, which could have significant impacts in the future.

Councilwoman Maria Maruca credited the administration, financial experts, and department heads. “Every year, we are doing more with less,” she said. Notably, this year the state did not send Superstorm Sandy aid, which was $1.5 million in previous years.

Another challenge is that the state cut aid by 25 percent a while ago and never made the township whole again, Councilman Maurice Hill said.

Councilmen Brian Kubiel, George Wittmann Jr., and Daniel Rodrick before the budget hearing. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Officials stated that this was the second year in a row with no municipal increase in the tax rate.

Councilman Daniel Rodrick noted that last year was an election year, where four of the seven spots were on the ballot (he won one of them). He suggested that was the reason for last year’s lack of an increase.

Councilman George Wittmann, Jr. said that a Toms River resident pays less in taxes than if the same home was in neighboring Brick Township. However, as he was making his case, he was continually interrupted by Rodrick, who kept repeating that the tax levy had doubled in ten years.

According to township figures, the amount to be raised in taxation was $43,604,606 in 2007, compared to $82,089,203 in 2018.