By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank council postponed the introduction of the first majority-Republican budget in a generation Wednesday.
Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who’s heading up the budget-writing finance committee, said she wanted more time to hear suggestions from residents and business owners on how to reduce a prospective tax increase.
But one of Schwabenbauer’s own suggestions — increasing the number of hours for which metered parking is in effect — appeared to be a non-starter.
In a confidential memo to the mayor and council last week, Schwabenbauer floated the idea of expanding collections for metered parking to 12 hours, six days a week, from the present nine hours, and shifting them to capture more nighttime revenue.
Doing so, she said, could generate up to $275,000 in annual revenue. But the idea found no immediate support Wednesday night.
“Nobody ever talked to me about extending parking,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said from the dais, in response to a complaint from a landlord owner about the proposal. “All of a sudden, I read about it and it’s gospel.”
Two council members also said they and the committees they sit on had not been consulted.
Schwabenbauer said during the meeting that she had received several “helpful” suggestions from residents about how to trim the projected 5.5-percent increases in borough taxes shown in the latest budget draft, and was hoping to hear more.
Suggestions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, she said.
Meantime, she said, the finance committee was still expecting to bring the tax increase “closer to zero” via shared-services agreements now in negotiations, holding off on filling job vacancies and other steps. “It’ll be a lot closer to zero by the time we’re done,” she told reporters after the meeting, declining to offer specifics on the shared services agreements, other than to say that some came out of a meeting with Middletown Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore.
Schwabenbauer said the delayed introduction of the budget was not meaningful, because the council had planned to hold an adoption vote on May 20, and still intends to.