CARTERET — Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman and the Borough Council approved the calendar year 2010 municipal budget this week that actually reduces taxes for residents.
Borough officials noted that Gov. Chris Christie has called for a cut of $2.5 million in school aid and $665,000 in state formula aid to Carteret, and has seized $140,000 in school surplus, and $440,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funding held by the state in trust for Carteret. Governor Christie’s budget will also divert an additional $750,000 from Carteret’s UEZ program in 2010-2011 fiscal year.
In spite of those obstacles, Carteret residents will see a net reduction in their taxes – approximately $20 per household. A total budget of $37 million was approved by a 6-0 vote, down $1.9 million from the 2009 CY budget.
Borough officials pointed to savings achieved by cutting 27 positions over the last six years for a 12% reduction in staffing. They also noted that Carteret municipal employees began paying towards their health insurance long before the state mandate.
Reiman’s budget also calls for the continuation of many resident programs, including the continuation of an annual sewer rebate for seniors, veterans, and permanently disabled residents.
“In spite of the dramatic cuts being posed by Gov. Christie’s administration, we have stayed the course of disciplined spending and stabilized taxation, in the continued recognition that reductions do not need to directly affect the quality of services we provide our residents.”
In February, Reiman announced at his State of the Borough Address that municipal staffing had been reduced by 10%, while holding budget increases below the rate of inflation. He also announced that his administration was committed to further reducing the cost of local government in the years ahead. With utility costs up by 15% since last year, and pension and medical insurance up by $1.5 million, such reductions have become all the more urgent, according to the borough’s finance department.
Pension costs alone for borough staff rose $97,000 this year, while health insurance costs rose $526,000. Reiman has also noted that the town’s net valuation has risen in stride with Carteret’s economic growth by $34,493,769, the municipal tax rate increase has been stabilized annually, and controllable expenses were reduced by $3,172,328 (26%) since 2007.
“Gov. Christie has balanced his budget on the backs of Carteret residents and working class families throughout the state,” Reiman added. “While he would like to claim that it is a fiscally sound budget, the fact is he simply chose not to fund billions of dollars in expenses and liabilities. He raised fees and taxes on working class families while giving millionaires a tax break at the same time.”
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