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FINAL BUDGET HANGS ON CWA FURLOUGHS

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Council President Art Murphy conferred with Attorney Tom Hall during Tuesday night’s special meeting on the budget. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Red Bank Council introduced amendments to its $19.2 million proposed budget at a special meeting Tuesday night that was over so quickly it was as if the six council members were double-parked out on Monmouth Street.

Of course, the meeting might have been prolonged by input from the public, but there wasn’t any.

Instead, the council will likely adopt the spending plan, which carries a 2.3 cent tax increase per $100 of assessed home value over last year’s rate, on June 14. That means for a property assessed at the average $405,522, tax bills will go up by $93, said Frank Mason, the borough’s financial officer.

Nothing has changed to bottom line spending since borough officials proposed the fiscal plan in April. Details of the budget, however, are still being worked out, they said.

As introduced on Tuesday night, the budget anticipates three-day furloughs for the 178-member workforce, minus crossing guards, administrator Stanley Sickels said, to cover a $302,000 gap. But the borough is still in negotiations with the blue-collar employees’ union, Communications Workers of America, to accept the unpaid days off  — a move that the union’s representative, Kevin Tauro, has vehemently opposed, although Sickels says the CWA has been helpful in helping pitch cost-cutting measures.

“They’ve been cooperative this far and we still want to continue these negotiations,” Sickels said.

Borough officials have intimated in the past that the CWA could face imposed furloughs or layoffs if negotiations don’t progress.

“We’re still trying to work that out,” Sickels said. “Hopefully they’ll understand this is a tough budget year.”

With a $517,000 loss in state aid, an increase in pension and health costs, plus a $905,000 reduction in surplus, the borough has made moves to keep the tax rate palatable. Several positions, including one captain slot in the police department, will go unfilled to help save money. Sickels said no full-time employees will be laid off with this spending plan.

To help make up for a revenue loss, local leadership is reinstituting the Saturday charge for parking, a move that will bring in about $60,000 for the rest of the year — that move came just a month after doubling curbside (but not municipal lot) rates. The borough has also backed out of its annual $60,000 contribution to Kaboom! fireworks.

Sickels said the budget is slated for adoption at a June 14 meeting.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank business owner happier than to hear "I saw your ad on Red Bank Green!"
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