Township employees applauded after the governing body announced Thursday that a furlough plan has been eliminated under the proposed municipal budget but Lacey residents are not out of the dark, as taxes will be raised.
Under the 2 percent state-mandated tax cap, the municipal tax rate will be increased $0.024. For the average assessed house at $318,000, taxes will rise $76.72 for the year and $6.32 per month under the proposed spending plan.
“I know some folks don’t want to see any increase at all but $6.30 increase per month based on the services you get in Lacey Township, at the municipal rate, is a heck of a bargain,” Mayor Gary Quinn said.
“I don’t like to pay one penny more tax than I’m paying right now. As a matter of fact, I’m paying too much,” resident Mike Micheli said. “On the other hand, having seen what the township has been through and seeing the budget cutting and everything, I think (the township committee) has done a wonderful job and I am pleased to hear what I am hearing. I congratulate (the committee) for their efforts so far.”
Regina Discenza, a resident of Lacey Township for more than 11 years, said her taxes have nearly doubled on her house.
“I have to tell you that if the taxes go up one penny, for me it’s one penny too much. Services haven’t doubled but the taxes have doubled,” she said.
Unions 'stepped up to the plate'
Under the proposed budget, the committee was able to eliminate the furlough plan, which originally consisted of 22 days for township employees.
“This year, we’re very happy to say that the budget we present has zero furlough days,” Quinn said.
Quinn credited the budget surplus, not backfilling 23 vacant positions, and changes that the township has made, including implementing user fees, in helping to avoid furloughs.
Quinn thanked the union members in attendance for their sacrifices. “What they’ve done is really stepped up to the plate to help the taxpayers,” he said.
“I truly think it was the right move not to furlough people, not to lay off people. I commend you for being able to come up with a solution for that,” resident Jim Letellier said.
In April, township employees joined at Bicentennial Park to
“Obviously we’re thrilled that there’s going to be no furlough plan this year, no layoffs this year. That’s the ultimate goal. We’re thinking it’s time to work together to have a budget, to move forward and not cut,” said Ellen Vidal, a Lacey resident and executive president of Communications Workers of America Local 1088.
Adoption in July
Quinn also noted that $3.8 million would be going toward the budget- $2.3 million from surplus and $1.5 million deferred from school taxes. The township anticipates 98 percent tax collection.
The township also came in within $2 million of the state’s expenditure cap and the amount raised by taxation is increasing by 12.96 percent. The overall budget is $191,258 less than last year, Quinn said.
The budget accomplishes the committee’s four priorities: avoid furloughs; reduce dollars spent on the police department, increase police resources on the street, and no layoffs in the police department, he said.
Committeeman David Most, liaison to emergency services, has worked with the police department to achieve $200,000 in cost savings and still get three to four more officers on the streets, Quinn said.
Though the township is still facing a 2.9 million shortfall, the committee agreed to support the purchase of a and add two road projects to the capital requests.
The ambulance will cost $135,000, with the township paying $100,000, while the EMS will take care of the difference. The committee agreed the decision was a matter of public safety.
The township received toward the Lake Barnegat Drive and Laurel Boulevard projects. The township originally estimated that they would be responsible for $370,000.
Bids have come in but the several members of the committee previously showed opposition to the road project. If they decide to move forward, the township committee will have to pass an ordinance at a later date.
The final budget will be introduced at the next caucus meeting on Thursday, June 9. Until then, the committee will have the opportunity to make changes as they see fit.
The budget will be adopted in July.