Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.


Our community pillars help us carry out our 100-Year Vision

Check it out

Non-profit Organization

Red Bank River Center

The Red Bank River Center promotes local merchants, recruits new businesses, stages vibrant downtown events, and beautifies our streetscapes.

Learn More
organization-banner
organization-banner

BUDGET INCREASES, BUT BY HOW MUCH?

mtown-budgetMiddletown resident Tom Stokes offers input on the 2010 budget in Middletown Monday night as committeeman Sean Byrnes looks on. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As it appears now, the total tax bill for Middletown Township property owners for the current year will be 2.8 percent larger than last year’s.

But that hardly matters to those keeping an eye on municipal spending, according to committeeman Sean Byrnes.

As the township committee Monday night introduced a $65 million spending plan that will raise the average tax bill by $211 annually, the body’s lone Democrat pressed chief financial officer Nick Trasente on details to make a point: That the presentation Trasente gave was more smoke and mirrors than government transparency, and something needs to change with how the budget is put together.

Byrnes told Trasente that while the overall tax bill — including levies for schools, Monmouth County and municipal utilities — was up 2.8-percent, the local portion alone soared by double digits.

The amount to be raised via the property tax by the municipality — $45.55 million, up from $40 million — is up more than 13 percent, he noted. The new tax rate of 39.85 cents per $100 of assessed property value, up from 35 cents, also represents a jump of more than 13 percent, he said.

Byrnes cast the single vote against the spending proposal.

“It’s important to focus on what we’re introducing,” Byrnes said. “There’s a lot, I think, we could have done before we got to this day, with a 13-percent increase.”

Byrnes went through examples of ideas he floated to the committee on ways to trim spending, such as contracting out leaf and brush collection, negotiating with attorneys to accept a flat fee for services and going out to bid for engineering projects.

Months ago, as the town languished in a fiscal haze without a CFO, Byrnes pushed for the formation of a finance committee, but failed to get any support, he said.

He said one-off additions to this year’s budget, like a $365,000 transfer from the town’s sewer authority into municipal surplus, won’t be available again next year. He also said that 15 percent cuts across every department are not specified in the budget and can’t be relied upon to be there in next year’s spending outline.

But what started as a simple explanation of a ‘no’ vote turned into something more candid, and considering he’s up for re-election this year, risky, for Byrnes.

“I don’t expect I’ll be sitting here come January with the way things have gone the last couple years,” he said. “I’m just telling you straight up what I think this town needs.

“I really do have a problem with the budget that we’re introducing.”

So did a couple of residents, including Jim Grenafege, who lauded Byrnes for clarifying the town’s spending plan. Grenafage scolded the committee for its budget spin, saying it was misleading, and that a 13-percent increase in unacceptable.

“Rather than being transparent with that presentation, you just made it more opaque,” he said. “I just haven’t seen any thought leadership whatsoever. It’s just totally, totally unacceptable.”

Tom Stokes, on the other hand, was a bit more sympathetic, and offered up his own suggestions to save money, which members said they’d take into consideration.

“I think all five of you up there have been in an economic stranglehold,” Stokes said. “Part of the problem is us. We demand services but we don’t want to pay for it.”

In defending the budget, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said there were tremendous hurdles to overcome to keep the budget balanced. State aid was reduced by $1.5 million; abnormally terrible weather ate up almost $900,000; and following Governor Chris Christie’s pitch for insurance and pension reform, at least 20 Middletown veterans filed for retirement, unexpectedly costing the town $760,000.

Scharfenberger also said that whatever suggestions are made by committee members are taken “very seriously.”

“Not everything we come up with is viable, legal or saves money,” he said.

Among some cost-saving measures, the police department’s D.A.R.E. program and its community relations program are now closed. In parks and recreation, Middletown Day is at risk to be canceled if sufficient sponsorship doesn’t come through. Town officials have also closed the skateboard park and mini-golf course, as well as trim lifeguard days on municipal beaches to weekends only.

Officials are also considering holding off on hiring some or all of six new police officers until 2011 and eliminating or reducing the town’s annual $25,000 contribution to the Poricy Park Conservancy.

The public hearing on the budget will be held on July 19.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank business owner happier than to hear "I saw your ad on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
HOME DELIVERY
RED BANK: After a subdivision, an instant house rises on a new Catherine Street lot.
COMMUNITY PROFILES
For Black History Month, Red Bank's Community Engagement and Equity Advisory Committee has been running a series of local profiles on Facebo ...
HEARTY FAREWELL FOR HARDY
RED BANK: Council to honor DPU supervisor Rich Hardy, who retired recently after almost 39 years of keeping things running.
HOMEBOUND? READ ON…
RED BANK: Can't get to the public library? It's now offering free delivery and pickups for homebound borough residents.
TAMING A BEAST OF A WEEK
RED BANK: After the second snowfall of the week, a borough family finds the perfect use for it – a Godzilla snow sculpture.
RED BANK: LIBRARY CLOSED, BUT THE HILL’S OPEN
RED BANK: Though the library was closed by a snowstorm, kids got to enjoy the riverfront property's steep slope Tuesday.
LIGHT(HOUSE) MAKEOVER
This year, getting ready for spring means a midwinter makeover for Strollo's Lighthouse in Red Bank.
TODAY: LOCAL PUPPY COMPETES ON ANIMAL PLANET’S “PUPPY BOWL”
Red Bank’s very own rescue puppy, Biscuit, is set to compete in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl this Sunday, February 11, at 2 PM. Th ...
WHAT? NO redbankgreen NEWSLETTER?
Apologies to redbankgreen newsletter subscribers: the daily email hasn’t gone out for two days because of technical issues.
RED BANK: TIRED OF SKEETERS?
RED BANK: Tired of mosquito bites every summer? Monmouth County has a free program to help eliminate skeeter breeding grounds.
SEA BRIGHT: POLAR PLUNGE FOR ST. JAMES, OTHERS
Hundreds braved the wind and sea on Sunday at 1PM in support of St. James Elementary School, and other Catholic schools in the area. The eve ...
RED BANK: RBR CLAIMS TITLE
RED BANK: Watch pure joy as the RBR boys basketball team celebrates its first B North championship in 17 years.
RED BANK: FORGET-IT FRIDAY
RED BANK: Train Station can be a lonely place Friday mornings, especially with cold rain in the forecast.
RED BANK: CROONING YOUR LOVE
RED BANK: Imagine a quartet of impeccably dressed gentlemen showing up at your beloved's workplace, singing of your love.
RED BANK: BLACK RIVER ROLLS ON
RED BANK: A 68-year-old rail freight engine can still be counted on to draw a trainspotting fan or two when it rolls through town.
RED BANK: ‘MONDAY SWEAT’ MEETS
RED BANK: Joined by the Hazlet Running Club, members of the Red Bank Run Club met for their "Monday Sweat" at Count Basie Field.
RED BANK: CARD SALE BOOSTS GYM DRIVE
RED BANK: Charter School Foundation offers student-deisgned Valentines cards to help raise funds for a gymnasium.
RED BANK: LOVE IS IN THE… WINDOW
RED BANK: Up next: Valentine's Day, and Partyline finds the Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe getting ready for a surge of love and craving.
CLOSING THE BOOK ON A GREAT CAREER
The Red Bank mayor and council honored with a resolution Linda Hewitt (in red) on her retirement from the Red Bank Public Library at Thursda ...
RED BANK: RAIL COMMUTER’S VIEW
A commuter's view of the Route 35 Cooper's Bridge over the Navesink River, as seen from North Jersey Coast Line train 3320 out of Red Bank F ...