Toms River Introduces 2012 Budget
Toms River's proposed 2012 budget falls under the two percent cap and with a minimal tax rate increase, but the Township Administrator worries with all the cutting they’ve done there isn’t much left.
Toms River Administrator Paul Shives presented the 2012 budget Tuesday at a special council meeting. The proposed financial plan has a 2.85 cent tax rate increase and is only 1.65% larger than in previous years with an additional $3.5 million dollars to the tax levy.
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Shives notes that going into the budget creation process the township had to deal with a major issues that were outside of their control; a large number of tax appeals still pending judgment.
“It reduces the amount of surplus we have available” says Shives “and reduces the overall access evaluation which bumps up the tax rate.”
He says the council has addressed those problems by having no increases to salary or wages in the budget, as well as cutting expenses and the township’s capital budget.
“Even with that there is a tax rate increase, of about 2.85%. It will be slightly smaller for some and slightly larger for others if you had an assessment change.” explains Shives.
Shives notes the himself along with the council left no stone unturned in making sure there was no excess spending, however though the 2012 financial plan was cut to the bone, he worries they could be left without many options in the future.
“A good budget is supposed to be like a good pool or billiards game where you set up for the next shot, we’re not able to do that any longer” Says Shives “municipal budgets not only in this state but through out the nation are facing these same pressures.”
Shives says he worries about the future, especially with the economy continuing to be sluggish.
“I think in the final analysis 2013 and 2014 are going to be our biggest challenges.”
He adds that with 40 percent of Toms River’s budget going to police and public works, Shives believes those are the last things that should be cut during tough economic times.
One of the manners in which tax relief could come for Toms River residents is through more business development, however Council President Maurice “Mo’ Hill says one of the reason they can’t attract large “big box” retail businesses is due to state regulations.
“In Ocean County, we’re limited by the state to town centers. What that means is there are only certain areas on route nine that we can develop thirty percent impervious coverage. The problem is if you want to encourage commercial development, and they’re looking at a piece of property [in Ocean County or Toms River] and they can only develop thirty percent of it, it’s a dis-incentive.”