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: 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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RED BANK: LIBRARY LAYOFFS SPARK OUTRAGE

sira williams 031214Laid-off children’s librarian Sira Williams embraces colleague Jane Eigenrauch after Wednesday night’s council meeting. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_02Hours after more than half the staff of the Red Bank Public Library was laid off, supporters packed a borough council meeting Wednesday night demanding a financial fix that would maintain the 77-year-old institution’s hours, programming and jobs.

Taking turns at a microphone to recall their own childhood days at the library or of watching their children learn to read there, a string of speakers pressed the council on how the library could find itself facing an estimated $131,000 operating deficit this year, and what the governing body planned to do about it.

“I can’t believe a town as wonderful as ours is facing this crisis,” said Sally Gordon or Windward Way, noting that Red Bank’s cultural assets led to its selection by Smithsonian Magazine as the third-best town in America in 2012. “I urge you, because you have the knowledge and the power, to figure out how we can get past this crisis.”

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RED BANK: LIBRARY PUTS STAFF ON NOTICE

rbpl board 022714 2A meeting of the Red Bank library board in the former living room of the Eisner family last month. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rbpl 2 102113The Red Bank Public Library has put its entire staff on notice of possible layoffs in the face of a looming budget shortfall.

Library director Virginia Papandrea confirmed to redbankgreen Tuesday morning that all 10 staffers, including three part-timers, were advised by letter dated Friday that they could be laid off unless the facility can fill an operating budget shortfall estimated at $131,000.

The move comes as the library faces a whopping payout of more than $70,000 in unused sick time to a retiring employee and a drop in the sum that the borough is obligated under state statute to pay into the facility from property tax collections.

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RED BANK: O LORD, I NEED A DRINK

cocktail 2 050411The merriment no longer has to wait until 11 a.m, in Red Bank bars on Sundays. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Six mornings a week, those with a yen to wet their whistles in Red Bank can do so in a bar as early as 7 a.m.

For decades, though, they’ve had to wait until the ungodly hour of 11 on Sunday – a whole nine hours after closing time, the poor things.

The borough council fixed that injustice Wednesday night.

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RED BANK RENEWS PUSH FOR LATE CLOSINGS

rb-late-nightBars and restaurants are doing their job keeping doors open late, some say, but more merchants must stay open to attract more visitors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As Red Bank continues to claw its way out of an economic hole it hasn’t seen since the we-don’t-like-to-talk-about-it Dead Bank days, Mayor Pasquale Menna tends to periodically jab downtown’s retailers with a reminder that it’s going to take work to bring Red Bank back as a top destination in the region and beyond.

Lately, though, he’s taken a firmer approach.

At a council meeting last month, when two requests for car shows on Broad Street appeared on the agenda, he paused from the typical rubber-stamping of such requests.

“This is a chance to tickle, pinch, smack our retailers to stay open on Sunday,” Menna said, and then pointed to Red Bank RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams, who was seated in the audience. “Get the word out. Tell them to stay open on Sunday. I might start smacking instead of pinching.”

It was another lash at a limp horse he’s been flogging since before Red Bank’s business dipped with the national economy. For years, Menna has been urging merchants to move away from the nine-to-five mindset and keep the lights on after dark and on Sunday, when too many stores, he says, are closed.

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POST OFFICE CUTTING HOURS AGAIN

img_6063121509A cheesy sign with partly-obliterated information announces the change. (Click to enlarge)

The post office on Broad Street in Red Bank is about to get another cutback in its service hours.

A spokesman for the Postal Service confirmed to redbankgreen that the facility will close at 6p Monday through Friday, and hour earlier than present. The change is effective December 26.

Reason? “A significant drop in retail transactions during the last hour of the day,” says spokesman Ray Daiutolo Sr.

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