Mayor says furloughs are not on the table in Lakewood in 2010

Because of my proactive stance on the budget, Lakewood is finding itself in a better financial position than some neighboring towns. For this reason, we do not have to institute Furlough Fridays at this point.

By controlling spending, we have been able to offer no tax increase to our taxpayers. At the same time, it is very important to me that our town be able to maintain and provide the same level of services to our residents that they currently have.

For instance, if we did have to institute Furlough Fridays, it would impact upon garbage collection and many other township services, including all those offered in the municipal offices.

Please remember that all of our policemen, firefighters and EMS (personnel) cannot be furloughed. Furthermore, the decision to institute furloughs cannot be arbitrarily undertaken by the township. It would require our making application to the state showing extreme hardship, necessitating this action.

By working closely with the other Township Committee members and spending countless hours with our township manager, and by cutting millions of dollars of spending, we were able to introduce a budget with no tax increase. In fact, we have a slight reduction in our spending this year.

Other towns that are instituting furloughs are doing so because they have to. As an example, one of our neighboring towns that has instituted furloughs is still facing a tax increase this year, a far cry from Lakewood, where we have been able to keep our spending stable and our services intact.

I would like to close by making everyone aware that this is the first year that net spending in our town has gone down. While it is true that some previous committees were able to lower taxes as well, they actually increased their spending. They were able to increase spending by taking advantage of increased ratables while the real estate boom was in effect and through one-time revenue boosters, such as land sales. We kept our tax rate stable the old-fashioned way — we cut spending.

Steven Langert

Mayor Lakewood