Red Bank officials amend budget; public hearing scheduled for Aug. 19


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RED BANK – The borough is still operating on a temporary budget for 2020 after Borough Council members opted not to adopt Red Bank’s spending plan for the current year during their meeting on July 22.

Instead, council members voted 4-2 to pass an amendment that will will trim about $50,000 from the proposed budget. The action delayed the scheduled the public hearing on the budget, which has now been scheduled for the council’s 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 meeting.

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Council members Erik Yngstrom, Kate Triggiano, Hazim Yassin and Kathleen Horgan voted “yes” on a motion to amend the budget. Council members Michael Ballard and Ed Zipprich voted “no” on the motion.

The council’s action means small adjustments will be made in the $23.19 million budget the council has introduced to fund the operation of the municipality in 2020.

Red Bank’s residential and commercial property owners are expected to pay about $14.17 million in a local tax levy to support municipal operations and an additional $786,640 in taxes to support the Red Bank Public Library, according to the budget. The total amount to be raised in taxes is about $14.95 million.

Other revenues in the 2020 budget include the receipt of $2 million in state aid and the appropriation of $2.43 million from the borough’s surplus fund (savings).

In 2019, Red Bank’s budget totaled $22.99 million and municipal operations were supported by a tax levy of $13.45 million. Property owners paid an additional $766,853 in a library tax. The total amount raised in taxes was about $14.21 million.

Other revenues in the 2019 budget included the receipt of $2 million in state aid and the  appropriation of $1.48 million from the surplus fund.

From 2019 to 2020, the total amount to be raised in taxes is increasing by about $740,000.

Council members debated various aspects of the budget during the meeting before determining the Finance Committee would hold a public meeting, possibly during the week of July 27, to give residents an in-depth look at the proposed spending plan.

Some residents and council members who spoke during the July 22 meeting took issue with the looming increase in municipal taxes. The increase will have a different impact on property owners depending on the assessed value of their home and/or property.

Yassin, who sits on the Finance Committee, said the passage of the amendment that will slice $50,000 from the budget was “the most beneficial (move) for residents. We waited on bills from the state and that put us late in the (budget) game.”

Officials in most other municipalities in Monmouth County adopted their 2020 budget between April and June.

Ballard, who sits on the Finance Committee, said Red Bank’s residents “have struggled mentally and financially from the effects of (the 2020 coronavirus pandemic).” He said the Finance Committee wanted “tough, necessary decisions made to reduce the tax levy. We need out-of-the-box thinking to run the borough’s operations.”

During public comment, one resident described the budget situation as a “rudderless ship” and he called on municipal officials to make “hard decisions.”

Another resident said the council “has lost touch with the people of Red Bank.”

“Any money in the budget that results in a tax increase that does not get spent goes back into our rainy day fund and helps to build surplus to assist future budget years and provide taxpayer relief,” Borough Administrator Ziad Shehady said in response to the residents’ comments about tax increases.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Red Bank Borough Public Schools taxes, Red Bank Regional High School District taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

An individual pays more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Selected appropriations from Red Bank’s 2020 budget include $5.3 million to be paid in police salaries and wages; $1.23 million to be paid in public works salaries and wages; and $254,742 to be paid in parks and recreation salaries and wages.

Red Bank will pay $629,000 for sanitation, other expenses, and $590,000 for landfill, other expenses. The payment of bond principal will cost the borough $1.14 million and interest on bonds will cost $476,024. Capital lease obligations show an appropriation of $701,113 for principal and $159,159 for interest.

Other appropriations include $2.35 million for employee group health insurance; $364,400 for workmen’s compensation insurance; and $269,900 for liability insurance.

During 2020, Red Bank officials will pay $1.26 million to the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System of New Jersey; $432,086 to the Public Employees Retirement System; and $450,000 to the Social Security System.

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