RED BANK: BUDGET IN SPOTLIGHT

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bankers with an interest in how much their local government costs them can find out where the money goes at a presentation Thursday night.

That’s when borough hall department heads explain their 2014 funding requests to the public at an annual event inaugurated by Councilman Mike DuPont in 2007.

On the table is the 2014 proposed $21 million spending plan, which town officials said is $218,000 smaller than 2013′s. About $12.6 million of that is to be covered by the local property tax.

Still unknown, however, is what property owners will pay, though preliminary estimates show the owner of a home assessed at the town average – currently estimated at $387,440 – paying $64.77 more this year.

That reflects a local purposes tax rate of 54 cents per $100 value, up from 52.4 cents. But Chief Financial Officer Eugenia Poulos cautioned that the figure is far from uncertain, as the borough is waiting to learn the impact of tax appeals on the town’s overall ratables under a pilot program that began this year. The actual rate will be struck in May, she said.

At Wednesday night’s bimonthly council meeting, DuPont stressed that the borough had cut its operating expenses by one percent, that insurance costs had risen six percent – compared to 22 percent in 2013 – and that debt service costs were down $500,000.

Several residents weighed in with objections.

“Its not the revenue, it’s the cost of running the town,” said Adrian Gubbay, of Madison Avenue.

Gubbay and others zeroed in on the council’s plan to issue more debt, including up to $600,000 for installation of a “water feature” and other improvements at Bellhaven Nature Area, as going in the wrong direction when total debt levels are falling after several years of increases.

The budget presentation will be held in the council chambers at 90 Monmouth Street at 6:30 p.m. Here’s the preliminary spending plan: RB PRELIM BUDGET 2014