PLUMSTED: Municipal budget delayed

State consent needed to adopt spending plan

by James McEvoy, Managing Editor
PLUMSTED — The Township Committee will have to wait at least one more week to formally adopted the 2013 municipal budget.
   While the Township Committee approved the introduction of the budget after a public hearing May 1, the spending plan, which will result in the average homeowner paying an additional $55 in municipal taxes, still required state review and approval.
   According to Business administrator Ron Dancer the individual from the state’s Division of Local Government Services who was supposed to sign off on the budget was not present earlier the day to do so.
   Mr. Dancer characterized the delay as minor, noting the state had all but stamped its approval on the $3.26 million municipal spending plan.
   ”We were told that the budget is in order,” he said, adding that the budget will be able to be formally adopted once the state signs off since a public hearing has already been held and there are no changes in the budget.
   Mayor David Leutwyler said the committee would call a special meeting, as early as next week to formally adopt the budget.
   As of press time no meeting had been scheduled.
   Several resolutions either amending the budget or adding a special revenue item were tabled. Officials said they would be able to be formally approved once the budget was adopted.
   Among the measures were resolutions authorizing insertion of special revenue in the amount of $16,319 and $3,317 originating from a clean communities and Ocean County recycling grants, respectively.
   At the May 1 meeting, officials attributed the tax increase primarily to the recent town wide reassessment.
   Committeeman Jack Trotta said that from 2012 to 2013 the township lost nearly $270 million in its tax base a result of the reassessment. Due to the reassessment, the average assessed value of a home in Plumsted is now $275,900, compared to $372,067 in 2012.
   Committeeman Trotta also noted the township had previously absorbed the impact of the tax appeals, necessitating the municipality to borrow $145,000 and $282,000 in 2011 and 2012 respectively for refunds.
   The increase comes despite the fact the budget itself represents a nearly $33,000 decrease from last year’s $3.29 million spending plan.
   Despite the decrease in spending, Committeeman Trotta previously told the public the municipal tax rate will increase to 22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, and that the average homeowner will pay $616 in municipal taxes.
   Last year’s rate increased to 15 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Committee Trotta said the average municipal tax bill was $561 in 2012.
   During a budget presentation in May, Business administrator Ron Dancer said five cents of the seven-cent increase is due to lost ratables.
   Mayor Leutwyler also noted individual tax bills will be directly impacted by the change in the value of each resident’s home, with those who filed tax appeals likely to see increases.
   ”It’s unfortunate with the reassessment. I know a lot of people were expecting taxes to go down, anybody I talked to I kept saying it is not going to go down,” he said after the public hearing. “If you haven’t appealed your taxes are going to pretty much be around the same, maybe a little bit increased.
   ”If you won the appeal on your taxes unfortunately they’re going to go up,” he added.