SOUTH BRUNSWICK: Council hears 2012 budget plan

By Charles W. Kim, Managing Editor

The Township Council got its first look at the preliminary $47.3 million budget for 2012 Tuesday night.
"The township is facing the toughest budget process in years," Township Manager Bernard Hvozdovic said.
Mr. Hvozdovic and Financial Officer Joe Monzo presented the plan to the governing body during the meeting.
The proposed budget carries a hike of 5.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Last year’s budget totaled $46.8 million.
If adopted as presented Tuesday night, the owner of a $190,000 home in the town would pay an additional $104 in municipal tax.
Mr. Monzo said continued tax appeals, mostly in the commercial sector, have dropped the overall value of the township again in 2011, dropping from $3.7 billion in 2010 to $3.6 billion in 2011.
That 2.4 percent loss translates to a loss of $935,000 in local tax revenues, which is 2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, according to the presentation.
In addition, expenses after Hurricane Irene in August and October’s freak snowstorm also add 1.66 cents per $100 of assessed valuation after getting federal disaster funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Mr. Monzo.
"We are looking at a 3.66 cent increase before we open our doors Jan. 1," Mr. Hvozdovic said.
In addition to the drop in property values, the township saw a decrease last year in revenues from the courts, building code office, interest earned and payments received in lieu of taxes by certain entities, according to Mr. Monzo.
Revenues that increased during 2011 included a $100,000 increase in hotel taxes and slightly less than that amount in new cable taxes, according to Mr. Monzo.
"Cable taxes are up tenfold," Mr. Monzo said. "Digital cable (sales) are through the roof."
Services like on demand orders and other digital add-ons lead the growth in the taxes collected by the town, Mr. Monzo said.
According to Mr. Monzo, contractual spending including salaries will cost $27.4 million. Added to that will be other statutory expenses of $16.7 million and another $1.7 million in "operationally necessary" items, combining for almost $46 million of the proposed budget.
The council will hold public meetings prior to the next three scheduled Tuesday night meetings at 6 p.m. to try and bring the budget costs down before introducing the plan by the mandated March 9 deadline.
"We are trying to maintain the same services," Mayor Frank Gambatese said.