Red Bank officials adopt $22.96 million municipal budget

RED BANK – The Red Bank Borough Council has adopted a $22.96 million budget to fund the operation of the municipality in 2019.

During a meeting on June 19, council President Erik Yngstrom, Councilwoman Kate Triggiano, Councilman Michael Ballard, Councilman Hazim Yassin and Councilman Ed Zipprich voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the spending plan. Councilwoman Kathy Horgan was absent.

Prior to the council’s vote to adopt the budget, members of the public were able to ask questions and comment on the spending plan.

“The budget process so far has not been transparent,” resident Thomas Wieczerzak said. “… I have no idea, other than seeing numbers in (the budget), about what’s going on.”

Prior to voting “yes” to adopt the spending plan, Ballard, who is chairman of the finance committee, said, “I made a promise to the residents that I would work hard to put us on a better financial footing … We do work hard to get our budget in order. I think we’ve done a good job … Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But it will get better.”

“I think it’s great when the public is interested and participates (in municipal discussions). It would be great if there were more residents here for that,” Business Administrator Ziad Shehady said. “I say that because then they would get the facts.”

In 2018, the borough’s budget totaled $22.57 million and the tax levy paid by residential and commercial property owners was $13.31 million.

In 2019, the $22.96 million budget will be supported in part through the collection of $14.21 million in taxes from Red Bank’s property owners.

The total budget has increased by $390,000 and the tax levy has increased by $900,000 from 2018 to 2019.

According to a statement posted on the municipality’s website, “The budget reflects a fiscally responsible approach to governance that incorporates forward-thinking planning and a long-term strategy as opposed to a year-to-year plan of action.

“Appropriations increased by less than $400,000. This change is largely attributed to contractual increases, additional payments to reduce our debt obligations and restoring the borough reserves for emergencies.

“Anticipated revenue for the year was reduced by approximately $500,000 to wean the borough off its dependence on surplus funds. Thanks to a thriving local economy that is fostering investment, construction and redevelopment, our ‘ratables’ are very healthy, allowing the borough to enjoy a nominal increase in the municipal tax rate for 2019,” the statement reads.

Significant appropriations in the 2019 budget include employee group insurance, $2.45 million; police department, salaries and wages, $5.4 million; street and road maintenance, salaries and wages, $1.32 million; landfill/solid waste disposal costs, $519,000; street lighting, $260,000; and fire department, other expenses, $143,200.

In 2018, Red Bank’s municipal tax rate was 58.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, according to a 2018 budget presentation that is posted on the borough’s website. The owner of a home assessed at $366,231 paid about $2,157 in municipal taxes.

Borough officials said the 2019 municipal tax rate would not be available until July, but they said the owner of a home assessed at $366,231 would pay about $51 more in municipal taxes in 2019 than in 2018.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill. Red Bank property owners also pay local school taxes, regional school taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

The amount an individual pays in property taxes is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

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