Barnegat Township Signs Off on $25.60 Million Budget

Apr 11, 2018

The Barnegat Township Committee has adopted a 2018 municipal budget of $25,699,168, approximately $191,000 more than what was spent last year. Tom Lombarski, chief financial officer, said the budget has a municipal tax rate increase (not including schools or county taxes) of less than 1.2 cents per $100 assessed value, or an additional $26 a year for the owner of a home at the township average assessment of $238,000.

At the April 3 township committee meeting, Lombarski said that when he became CFO in 2015, the township needed a 7.2-cent increase.

“We were behind on some health care benefit bills and other items,” he said. “The next year, we reduced it to a 4.7-cent increase.”

The township’s entire overall budget as compared with 2017’s modified budget increased by less than 1 percent.

“That’s very good,” said Lombarski. “Employee health benefits decreased by $174,000, resulting from reduced premiums from the state health benefits plan.”

However, police salaries and wages increased due to the seven-year contract with Barnegat PBA Local 26 last fall. The contract calls for 1.95 percent salary increases from January 2014 to when the agreement expires at the end of 2021.

“The line item will consist of newly adjusted salaries and some retroactive pay due,” Lombarski said.

He said annual pension bills, which are provided by the state, came in approximately $200,000 higher than last year. But he said there will be a significant decrease in deferred charges as the township recently finished paying off the final $700,000 installment from Superstorm Sandy special emergency notes.

“The township is now note-free,” said Lombarski.

“When the police contract was approved last year, we heard that we’d probably have to lay people off, and that is not happening,” said Committeeman Albert Bille. “You did a great job with the lowest tax increase since 2012. Let’s keep it that way and maybe do better.”

During the public hearing, resident Bob Martucci said 70 to 75 percent of budgets are fixed costs

“It’s mostly contracts, health care obligations and statutory requirements,” said Martucci, a former borough administrator of Seaside Park. “There is very little discretionary spending. Most of what you have can’t be cut.”

Resident Frank Pecci said that while the township’s financial shape has improved, line items featuring “other expenses” don’t give a full picture.

“In the police budget, there was a cost of $45,000 for other expenses,” he said. “I asked what that was, and was told that it was for ammunition. One of the (township) committee did not know of that, and he asked the police chief, ‘What are we doing, starting our own war?’”

— Eric Englund

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