HOLMDEL – Members of the Township Committee have adopted a 2021 municipal budget that totals $26.01 million and will be supported by the collection of $14.85 million in taxes from Holmdel’s residential and commercial property owners.
During a meeting on May 11, Mayor Greg Buontempo, Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber, Committeeman Prakash Santhana and Committeeman D.J. Luccarelli voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the budget. Committeeman Tom Critelli was absent from the meeting.
No members of the public commented on the budget when given the opportunity to do so.
The budget was amended prior to its adoption because between the time it was introduced in April and the time it was adopted, Holmdel received several grants that were placed into the budget. Total appropriations have increased from $25.96 million to $26.01 million, according to Township Administrator Cherron Rountree and Chief Financial Officer Bill Antonides.
Rountree and Antonides said the addition of the grants will not affect the taxes to be collected from property owners. The miscellaneous revenue line increased from $6.91 million to $6.96 million with the receipt of the grants.
The 2021 budget includes an appropriation from Holmdel’s surplus fund (savings) of $3.6 million to be used as revenue. Revenues from other sources account for the balance of the funds that will be raised to support the spending plan.
Rountree has said 95% of the municipal budget supports what she called “committed spending” (i.e., salaries, insurance) and the remaining 5% is considered discretionary spending.
She said the budget provides funding for the broad categories of public safety; code enforcement; infrastructure; waste removal; community events and programming; and the administration of government.
The largest expense in Holmdel’s budget is salaries and wages for municipal employees, which account for 40% of all spending (approximately $10.4 million).
Holmdel’s 2019 budget totaled $24.24 million and was supported by the collection of $14.52 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners. The municipal tax rate was 34 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home was assessed at $676,993 and the owner of that home paid about $2,301 in municipal taxes.
Holmdel’s 2020 budget totaled $25.08 million and was supported by the collection of $14.63 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners. The municipal tax rate remained at 34 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home was assessed at $686,578 and the owner of that home paid about $2,334 in municipal taxes.
Holmdel’s 2021 budget totals $26.01 million and will be supported by the collection of $14.85 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners. The municipal tax rate is projected to remain at 34 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home is assessed at $700,426 and the owner of that home will pay about $2,381 in municipal taxes.
Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Holmdel Township Schools taxes and Monmouth County taxes.
The total amount of taxes an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
Rountree and Antonides said for every $100 in property taxes a property owner pays, $68 goes to the Holmdel school district, $17 goes to the municipality, $12 goes to Monmouth County and $4 goes to the library, the Board of Health and open space purposes.
Santhana read a statement from the Holmdel Finance Committee, which reviewed the budget prior to its adoption. The finance committee members wrote that they appreciate the efforts of Rountree, Antonides and their staffs to develop the budget; they recognize municipal officials’ ongoing efforts to seek shared services agreements with other entities; and they noted that the municipal tax rate has remained stable.
“The leadership team at town hall has done a good job putting together the budget,” Buontempo said.
As outlined in a budget presentation, the administration’s goals for 2021 include preserving land for open space and/or farmland preservation; improving electronic access to documents and files both internally and externally; expanding social media platforms and followers; and adopting a township seal.
Rountree and Antonides offered the following notes about the budget and outlined what they called the “key drivers:”
• Municipal debt service obligations are increasing nearly 7%, more than $220,000;
• Pension contributions are increasing more than 12%, nearly $250,000;
• Social Security contributions are increasing 15%, or $115,000;
• Health insurance premiums increased more than 9%, about $158,000. Rountree and Antonides said that increase would have been far greater if Holmdel did not switch to the state health benefit plan system;
• The budget includes a significant increase in aid to the fire department for contractual and preventive maintenance, repairs, equipment, personal protective equipment, uniforms and training;
• The budget continues to provide $65,000 in aid to the local first aid squad, an amount increased in 2020 due to expenses associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Officials said the first aid squad continues to have these increased expenses because of the pandemic and therefore the 2021 budget keeps the aid to the first aid squad at the 2020 level.
According to a population estimate from July 2018, Holmdel had 16,662 residents.
During the public comment portion of the meeting that followed the adoption of the budget, resident Karen Strickland said she was disappointed to learn from municipal officials that the members of Holmdel’s Ad Hoc Committee on Human Relations could not agree in issues in a manner that would permit the panel to produce a final report.
“We have a lot of work to do” in this town on racial issues, Strickland said.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Human Relations was formed by Holmdel officials in 2020 after public comments were made about a blue line that had been painted on Crawfords Corner Road in front of police headquarters in 2016 as a show of support for law enforcement personnel.
In February, the ad hoc committee issued a preliminary report and a series of recommendations for municipal officials and members of the public to consider.
According to the preliminary report, the members of the ad hoc committee sought to address the public’s concerns about racism and discrimination.
It was indicated at the time the preliminary report was issued that a final report from the ad hoc committee would be forthcoming, but municipal officials announced in April that a final report would not be issued by the panel.