Toms River taxpayers could pay 2.8 cents more per $100 of assessed property, with a total $0.63 municipal tax rate, according to the municipal budget introduced today.
Next up is an April 26 public hearing on the 2011 municipal budget, and the township council's next regular meeting is April 12. The budget is $97.984 million, which is 1.2 percent more than last year.
The increased taxes proposed equate to an average of $105.09 more in tax payments for the year, or $8.76 per month.
"Nobody likes to raise taxes," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher. "But, $8.76 a month, that’s a pack of cigarettes. I don’t think anyone would begrudge the equivalent of the cost of a pack of cigarettes to maintain the level of services."
Township Business Administrator Paul Shives said this year was a challenging one to create a budget. Toms River will again use attrition, furloughs, re-negotiated contracts, a hiring freeze and shared services efficiencies, he said, while maintaining the exact same level of services as last year.
“The Mayor’s directive to us was clear: the level of services had to be same, no matter how to get there,” Shives said in an interview before a brief public meeting to introduce the budget.
Overtime expenses are decreasing 26 percent, and overall salaries and wages have decreased over 2010's by $100,000, said Shives.
He said re-negotiating with the eight unions for public employees saved more than $1 million. He pointed to the use of 12 unpaid furlough days for "white collar" union workers, and a hiring freeze for 34 positions left vacant from 2008.
Two big elements impacting the budget: $1.3 million in spending related to snow removal, and tax appeals with decreased property values, said the township administrator.
The average assessed property value decreased over last year, down to $368,742. Previously it was $370,190, Shives said.
In addition, the ratable base is decreasing for Toms River, Shives said. While in 2010, $17.115 billion in tax ratables existed, it is $16.95 billion in 2010, a loss of $1.65 million in ratables, Shives said.
On the revenue side, state aid levels increased over 2010, the year when the state drastically cut aid to municipalities, he added. State aid is expected to be $8.492 milion in 2011.
Shives said $11 million of the township's surplus funds will be used to offset costs, and that is 11 percent of the total revenue in the $97.984 million proposed budget. Local taxes make up 63 percent of the total budget, at $61.243 million in taxation.
Residents hoping for more insight into what the budget would contain were urged to check the township's website tomorrow, as the proposal would be in place there, said Township Clerk Mark Mutter. Council President Gregory McGuckin said further detail and chance for public comment would be at the budget hearing.