The Manalapan Township 2012 Municipal Budget was presented to the public at last week’s meeting, but not adopted as scheduled because the Division of Local Government Services Budget Review had not yet been filed. The approximately $30M budget will be up for adoption at the next Township Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 9.
Even though the committee did not yet adopt the budget, which calls for a 2 cent per $100 tax rate, Township Administrator Tara Lovrich conducted a presentation on the budget to the public, which is available for viewing at the Manalapan Township Web site.
The municipal tax rate has increased 0.007 cents, Lovrich said, indicating that state aid has gone down. Appropriations and shared services have gone up, however, helping the cost burden.
The majority of the tax rate, 65.1 percent, comes from the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District and the Freehold Regional High School District taxes, which raised a lot of eyebrows at the meeting and brought forth several citizens during the public hearing on the budget.
Manalapan resident Deborah Smarth said that the new state legislation taking away residents’ rights to vote on a non-binding referendum for school budgets has led to this problem. Smarth said that even though the referendum is non-binding, the vote indicates the feelings of the township and places pressure on the school boards to be more cost conscious.
Mayor Susan Cohen told Smarth that she, Lovrich, and Committeeman Andrew Lucas worked with the Freehold Regional School District two years ago for numerous hours cutting the budget line-by-line and even met with the Department of Education Commissioner, but they did not cut one dollar.
“At the end of the day, moving it to November and taking away our right to vote actually saves us money because they don’t listen to us anyhow,” Cohen said. “It is what it is. We spent the time, the effort, line-by-line, we created all kinds of cuts, and at the end of the day they didn’t use any of them.”
Deputy Mayor Don Holland also responded and said that he has previously asked if he could sit in on negotiations and budget meetings for the elementary school district, but has been denied; everything done contractual and about the budget must be done in closed session, according to state law.
The presently introduced 2012 budget still maintains the same services and programs that the township has continued to offer in the past. Something which Manalapan resident Butch Budai said he was very thankful for and complimented the Finance Committee for keeping the same services at such a low tax rate.
Committeeman Ryan Green, the liaison of the Finance Committee, thanked the hard work and dedication of the volunteer-run Finance Committee for overlooking the township budget.
“They really did go through this budget and look at everything we’re doing,” Green said.
According to Green, the Township Committee has not received any other recommendations from the to change the budget as of now.
If anyone has any questions or comment about the budget Mayor Susan Cohen said she is available through e-mail at email@example.com.