Jackson officials vote to adopt 2011 budget

Nine municipal employees will be laid off under plan

Staff Writer

JACKSON — Three months after the Jackson Township Council introduced a municipal budget for 2011, the spending plan is officially in place. The council voted to adopt the $38.72 million budget during its meeting on July 5.

The record will show that all five council members, council President Ken Bressi, council Vice President Ann Updegrave, Councilman Mike Kafton, Councilman Scott Martin and Councilwoman Bobbie Rivere, voted yes when the motion came before them.

In comments made shortly after the vote, however, Kafton asked if he could change his vote to no.

When told he could not change his vote from yes to no, Kafton said, “If I could change my vote to no, I would. I think this is the worst budget I have ever experienced. The budget was not balanced when we got it from the mayor, and employees suffered for months wondering if they would have a job. ”

Kafton said he blamed himself for not following what was happening at the meeting more closely. The July 5 meeting was the council’s reorganization meeting, and the mayor and council had gone through a number of resolutions before the municipal budget came up for a vote with little fanfare.

Kafton commended the council for the work it did on the budget, saying that the spending plan “was a mess when we got it” from the mayor.

The budget was introduced in April but had to be amended several times prior to its final adoption on July 5.

Kafton was told that his comments would reflect his change of opinion on the budget.

Jackson’s 2011 budget will rely on the following sources of revenue: local tax levy, $27.84 million; miscellaneous revenues, $6.58 million; surplus (funds from savings), $2.4 million; and receipts from delinquent taxes, $1.9 million.

In other comments about the spending plan, Updegrave said that in looking toward the upcoming year, “Hopefully we can come to a budget resolution to the problems we are facing. We are not alone. I hope we can work with the mayor to solve some of these issues.”

Mayor Mike Reina thanked the council members for “working with me during one of Jackson’s darkest hours trying to get this budget done.”

The mayor thanked municipal employees who were required to take unpaid furlough days in recent months. He announced that effective July 8, the unpaid furloughs would end and regular Monday-through- Friday business hours would resume at town hall.

During the employee furloughs, town hall was closed on Fridays.

When the public had a chance to comment, resident Paul Mayerowitz said there was ample time for council members and residents to speak about the 2011 budget. He said, “there were things that many of us would have liked to have changed … I don’t understand a no vote against this budget … We have a budget and we have to live with that.”

When municipal officials began developing a budget for 2011 several months ago, as many as 23 police positions were said to be on the chopping block. As recently as three weeks ago, 12 police officers were said to still be in danger of losing their jobs.

In the end, because of negotiations between the township and the union representing the police officers, no police officers will be laid off.

Reina acknowledged that nine municipal employees (six members of the Transport Workers Union and three clerical employees) would be laid off following decisions rendered by the Department of Personnel and the chief financial officer.

“It pains me to say that we couldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat to save those nine jobs,” the mayor said, noting that the original estimate of 49 layoffs had been reduced to nine layoffs. “These are monetary decisions.”

Jackson’s municipal tax rate for 2011 will be 41.27 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That is an increase of 3.42 cents from the 2010 municipal tax rate of 37.85 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

With that higher tax rate in place, the owner of a home that is assessed at $200,000 will see his municipal taxes increase from $757 to $825.

The owner of a home that is assessed at the township average of $333,000 will see his municipal taxes increase from $1,260 to $1,374.

The owner of a home that is assessed at $500,000 will see his municipal taxes increase from $1,892 to $2,063.

Municipal taxes are one part of a property owner’s total tax bill. The tax bill also includes school, county and fire district taxes.