RED BANK: COMMENTING POLICY UNDER FIRE

red bank, nj, ziad shehadyBusiness Administrator Ziad Shehady has allowed little deviation from the council’s commenting protocol since his arrival in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njThe Red Bank council moved to eliminate a citizenship requirement for business licensing and approved a debt refinancing Wednesday night.

And once again, the protocol for comments at council meetings was put to the test. Here’s a recap of  what went down at the semimonthly session.

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RED BANK: WHAT’S ON THE COUNCIL AGENDA?

red bank basie trackThe track at Count Basie Fields would be replaced under a plan up for adoption by the council. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njA proposed alternate-side parking ordinance is up for consideration at the Red Bank council’s only regular session this month.

Also on the agenda as the council moves into its summer meeting schedule: taxes, a new track for Count Basie Fields, the settlement of a disputed records request and more. Read More »

RED BANK: TAXES ON WORKSHOP AGENDA

red bank, michael ballardCouncilman Michael Ballard, with borough CFO Peter O’Reilly in foreground. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank taxesIntroduced two weeks ago without a word of comment by elected officials, the 2019 Red Bank budget is scheduled for discussion Wednesday night.

Also on the borough council’s workshop agenda: the resolution of a lawsuit,  and a discussion about food trucks.

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FAIR HAVEN: SCHOOL REFERENDUM ON TABLE

Sean McNeil, center, with fellow superintendents Brent MacConnell of Shrewsbury, left, and Red Bank’s Jared Rumage at a school funding discussion in 2018. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Fair Haven’s two-school district plans to hold a facilities bond referendum in September, Superintendent Sean McNeil announced earlier this week.

How much spending does the board hope to win approval for? How will the funds be used? Stay tuned, says McNeil.

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LITTLE SILVER: SPORTS CUTS SPARK OUTRAGE

RED BANK REGIONAL BOE 032019Heavy turnout forced the relocation of the RBR board meeting to the media center, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank Regional students and parents packed a board of ed meeting Wednesday night in a bid to save the ice hockey and golf programs from a budgetary axe.

With a preliminary spending plan calling for a 6.5-percent tax increase, board members defended the cuts as necessary before parents appeared to coalesce around a plan to save the sports through outside fundraisers.

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LITTLE SIVER: RBR TEACHERS BLAST MOORE

RED BANK REGIONAL LOU MOORESuperintendent Lou Moore at Wednesday’s RBR board meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njThe union representing teachers at Red Bank Regional accused Superintendent Lou Moore Wednesday night of running the three-town high school district with an “authoritarian” approach and a “general lack of integrity.”

The bombshell accusations were made at a board of ed meeting hours after the Red Bank Regional Education Association’s members “overwhelmingly” cast a no-confidence vote against Moore, said math teacher Sunny Lenhard.

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RED BANK: DISTRICT GETS FUNDING BOOST

Jobs and after-school programs that were cut this spring are being restored, said Superintendent Jared Rumage, seen at left with board president Fred Stone before a lobbying trip to Trenton in 2017. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank school officials have been busy in recent days restoring jobs, programs and contracts eliminated just four months ago.

Under Governor Phil Murphy’s first budget, the borough’s 1,422-student pre-K-8 district saw a 55-percent jump in state aid, which board members said Tuesday night was a cause for both celebration and frustration.

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RED BANK: PARKING, TAXES & MORE

A consultant was hired to conduct a long-awaited parking study following the failure last year of plans to redevelop the White Street lot, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Red Bank council, these things happened:

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RED BANK: PROPERTY TAX UP 4.7 PERCENT

Michael Ballard, who heads the finance committee, with Mayor Pasquale Menna at left, on election night last November. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank property owners may see a 4.7-percent increase in the local portion of their tax bill this year under a budget introduced Wednesday night.

The hike was driven by a drop in revenue, said Councilman Michael Ballard, including a halt by Riverview Medical Center of its customary payment in lieu of taxes.

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RED BANK: SCHOOL TAX HIKE, JOB CUTS LOOM

Jobs and after-school programs are on the cutting block unless the state comes through with an additional $750,000, said Superintendent Jared Rumage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

The average Red Bank homeowner would pay about $117 more in taxes to support borough schools this year if New Jersey legislators don’t come through with more funding, Superintendent Jared Rumage said Tuesday night.

Even with the levy increase, the local primary and middle schools could see cuts in staffing and extracurricular programs such as jazz band and the fledgling cross-country track team, he said.

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RED BANK: CHARTER AID BOOST SLAMMED

District officials say they may have to eliminate a new cross-country program in order to balance the budget. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank school board members and parents reacted with outrage Monday night to an effective reduction in state aid under funding announced by the administration of Governor Phil Murphy last week.

Though nominally a $178,503 increase for the district, more than that sum is to be relayed to the Red Bank Charter School, Superintendent Jared Rumage said at a board meeting at the primary school.

With the district seeing an effective decline in aid while state funding to the charter school’s rises $1,025 per student, “I think the time has come to have the discussion about running two public schools in Red Bank,” Rumage told redbankgreen.

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LITTLE SILVER: LAWMAKERS ADDRESS FUNDING

Local residents and school officials, including state Senator Declan O’Scanlon, below, turned out for the event at the Markham Place School. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Dozens of taxpayers and school administrators from the Greater Red Bank Green packed a Little Silver auditorium Wednesday night to press legislators for help with education costs.

 

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RED BANK: SPARKS FLY OVER BUDGET

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, seen here last May with GOP colleagues Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan, found herself at odds with them, and Mayor Pasquale Menna, Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank adopted its 2017 budget Wednesday night amid some odd political frictions.

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who leads the budget-setting finance committee, took clear umbrage at a last-minute critique of the spending plan by Mayor Pasquale Menna. Then, the only ‘no’ votes when it came up for adoption were cast by her two fellow Republicans on the dais.

And before the night was over, Schwabenbauer’s main adversary in this year’s election, Democrat Ed Zipprich, issued a press release commending her.

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FAIR HAVEN: TAXES ON THE TABLE

The February sale of a vacant borough-owned lot on Fisk Street helped keep a lid on property taxes this year, said Administrator Theresa Casagrande.   (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Taxes dominated the Fair Haven council’s semimonthly meeting Monday night, with a borough budget up for adoption and presentations on spending plans by two school districts on the agenda.

Bottom line(s): a drop in the borough levy, a drop in the local school tax, and an increase in the one that funds the regional high school.

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RED BANK: TAX BILLS TO RISE 2.9 PERCENT

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, a CPA who heads the finance committee. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxes

Typical Red Bank homeowners would see a $x increase in the borough portion of their 2017 property tax bills under a budget introduced at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

For the owner of a home assessed at the town-average $362,342, that means an increase of $57.25 for the year.

 

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RED BANK: TAX HIKE TRIMMED ON A TWEAK

rb parking 041316 2A recent deal allowing the Count Basie Theatre to sell parking spots at borough hall on specified dates paved the way to a new budget.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe owner of a typical Red Bank home will pay $35 more in local property taxes this year, rather than $40, following passage of the first Republican-led budget in a generation Wednesday night.

The borough council’s unanimous approval of the 2016 spending plan marked the anticlimax to a brief standoff that began when Democrats raised eleventh-hour objections to  what they later called “‘fluff and ‘slush funds” in the GOP budget.

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RED BANK: DEMS TARGET ‘SLUSH FUNDS’

horgan schwabenbauer 101815Council members Kathy Horgan, left, and Linda Schwabenbauer, seen at last year’s Halloween parade, are now at odds over the budget. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesTwo weeks after it was shot down on the mayor’s tiebreaking vote, Red Bank’s first Republican-led budget in a generation faces its next test on Wednesday.

That’s when council members will square off over cuts suggested by Democrats to what they called “‘fluff’ and ‘slush funds.'”

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RED BANK: BUDGET FAILS ON TIEBREAKER VOTE

schwabenbauer menna 052516Mayor Pasquale Menna confers with Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer during the council’s budget deliberation Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRed Bank’s first Republican-led budget in a generation failed to win approval when Mayor Pasquale Menna cast a tiebreaking vote at Wednesday night’s semimonthly council meeting.

His vote against the spending plan followed a 3-3 deadlock that included a “no” by a member of the budget-crafting finance committee, Democrat Kathy Horgan, whose caught committee chairwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, a Republican, by surprise.

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RED BANK: TAX INCREASE REDUCED

rb budget q&A 051816 1A half-dozen or so residents, outnumbered by borough employees and officials, attended the budget session. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[Update, May 20: Visuals from this presentation are now available online here.]

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesA controversial increase in parking fees will trim the local property tax increase to less than half that previously anticipated, Red Bank officials said Wednesday.

At the annual informal budget presentation, held at borough hall, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer said the spending plan scheduled for adoption next week calls for a two-percent tax increase, or about $35 for the year for the owner of a home assessed at the town-average $354,006. Read More »

RED BANK: ‘COMPROMISE’ PARKING HIKE OK’D

rb parking 051116 1Fees for parking in downtown lots would double, to $1 per hour, while metered spots on the street would rise 50 percent, to $1.50 an hour. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1Red Bank’s parking fees are going up.

The borough council approved rate increases Wednesday night, billing the action as a “compromise” with downtown business owners.

Still, merchants decried the hikes, which they said will further alienate potential visitors already turned off by metering, aggressive enforcement and costly tickets. Read More »

RED BANK: TAXPAYER BUDGET Q&A SLATED

rb boro hall 041416taxesFor the 10th year in a row, Red Bank borough government department heads are scheduled to offer presentations on their 2016 budget proposals at a public information session scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 at at borough hall.

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RED BANK: STEEP PARKING FEE HIKE PROPOSED

rb parking 041416 2Fees for parking in downtown lots would double, while metered spots on the street would see a 50-percent increase. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRed Bank’s council laid two controversial proposals on the table Wednesday night:

• a budget that debuts with a 5.5-percent property-tax increase

• and a plan to soften the blow to taxpayers with a sharp increase in parking fees.

The backlash to the parking plan was immediate, both in the audience and on the governing body’s dais.

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RED BANK: PARKING IDEA SPUTTERS

rb white meter 112415A proposal to extend meter enforcement hours appeared to get no traction Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe 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.

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RED BANK: GOP DRAFT BUDGET HAS TAXES UP

schwabenbauer 010216 2Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who heads the finance committee, says there’s been a “severe” drop in revenue from last year along with an increase in expenses. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesThe first majority-Republican Red Bank budget in a generation is set to make its debut this week, and it comes with a likely tax hike.

While officials are hopeful they can trim the increase, the draft budget shows a 5.5-percent jump in the municipal levy, or roughly $115 a year for the owner of a residential property assessed at the average $354,497, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer tells redbankgreen.

One way to soften the impact, she said, is to extend the hours for which parking fees are collected.

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