Monthly Archives: July 2010

No municipal tax increase for 2010

In a 3 – 2 vote, the SLH Borough Council narrowly defeated a proposed budget amendment that would have raised taxes by an approximate $35.00 per household.

The proposal was a hold over from the initial draft budget submitted by Councilman John Brennan when he held the post of Chair to the Council’s Finance Committee. New committee Chair, Councilwoman Patricia Cindea, revived the idea for discussion purposes.

At a recent meeting, Democratic candidate for Council John E. Tully reprimanded the Council for proposing to spend the Borough’s surplus fund by $660,000.  In Mr. Tully’s opinion, this represented “reckless spending.”

However, if the Borough does not spend its budget surplus, it must raise taxes to meet its financial obligations for the upcoming year.

By spending down the budget surplus, Councilwoman Cindea crafted a zero-tax-increase budget for 2010. This includes all contractually-obligated pay raises; employees without contracts will not receive raises.

A recently circulated petition sought to overturn contracted raises, a move which Councilwoman Cindea fears will result in increased legal fees. If the Borough breaks contracts with its employees, it can be sued. Councilwoman Cindea estimates that the petition has already cost the town approximately $27,000 in unanticipated legal fees. It was her concern over these fees that led her to proposing a possible tax increase, noting that Councilman Brennan had already made this suggestion when he proposed his draft budget.

The Council previously discussed a possible tax increase at its July 19 meeting, but Councilmen Brennan and Gavino Maccanico did not attend the meeting. To allow for their input, Councilwoman Cindea again raised the issue for discussion.

Although he had initially proposed the $35.00 tax increase, Councilman Brennan voted no to amend the budget, along with Councilman Maccanico and Councilwoman Sara King. Councilwomen Cindea and Lynn Kegelman both voted yes. Councilwoman Kathleen Crippen was absent from the meeting due to a family medical emergency. However, at the July 19 meeting, Councilwoman Crippen noted that with the County and fire district increases, “…the Borough’s senior citizens will already have trouble paying the increase. I don’t think we want to add to their burden.”

Monmouth County taxes will rise by approximately $56.00 per household. The fire district tax will rise by approximately $4.00 per household. This amount is based on an average SLH home assessment of $450,000. Homes assessed at a higher rate will pay slightly higher increases.

No tax increase or a $35.00 hike?

On Monday, July 19, the SLH Borough Council met and discussed possibly amending the proposed 2010 budget to include a tax increase.

Currently, the proposed budget contains no tax increase. It proposes to spend $660,000 in surplus funds.

However, two other factors outside the control of the Council would raise taxes in 2010:

. Monmouth County’s proposed budget increase would result in an approximate $56 dollar increase per household.

. The SLH Fire District budget would result in an approximate $4.00 per household increase.

These suggested tax increases are based on the $450,000 average home assessed value. Homes assessed higher than $450,000 would pay a higher tax increase.

At the July 19 meeting, Councilwoman Patricia Cindea, chair of the Council’s Finance Committee, noted that a recent petition drive to block contracted employee raises had resulted in increased legal fees. She noted that where she previously felt confident with the zero-increase budget, she was now concerned that the new legal bills would spark a shortfall.

Councilwoman Cindea asked that the Council discuss a possible amendment to the budget which would add an additional $85,000. This amount would be deducted from the surplus amount currently earmarked to be spent. If $85,000 is removed from surplus spending, this amount would need to be raised through taxation.

Councilwoman Cindea noted that it was not her idea to propose a tax increase. The $35.00 per household tax increase was first proposed by Councilman John Brennan in the budget he originally put forth before being removed as the Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee. Councilwoman Cindea noted that she merely was reviving the point for discussion purposes.

Only 4 members of the Council were present at the meeting, along with Mayor Enright. Councilmen Brennan and Gavino Maccanico were not present.

After discussion, the resolution to amend the budget was voted on. Councilwomen Patricia Cindea and Lynn Kegelman voted yes, Councilwomen Kathleen Crippen and Sara King voted no. Mayor Enright, who may only vote in the case of a tie, also voted no.

Following the defeat of the proposed budget amendment, the Council then voted to adopt the proposed 2010 budget. However, due to an error in Robert’s Rules of Order voting protocol, that matter will be revoted on at the Monday, July 26th Council meeting at 8:00 PM.

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