Though still suffering from a loss of ratables nearly six years after Superstorm Sandy, Toms River officials adopted a municipal budget Tuesday night that cuts spending slightly and does not increase the township’s tax rate.
The township council adopted its $124,867,859 spending plan for 2018 at its meeting Tuesday night. The budget is supported by a $82,089,203, which is more than $157,000 under the state’s 2 percent cap on levy increases. But through despite the slight levy increase, the tax rate will not rise due to a combination of a recovering ratable base and labor contracts settled this year which provided savings on employee healthcare costs, officials said.
“The budget represents a 1.2 percent decrease in the overall size of the budget from 2017,” said Mayor Thomas Kelaher. “It is also a comfortable $8.3 million under the appropriations cap and $157,000 under the 2 percent tax levy cap.”
For a taxpayer who owns a home worth $272,380 – the township’s average – the municipal portion of their tax bill will be $1,728.62. Officials said that rate is 19 percent lower than the average tax rate for Ocean County communities.
The overall budget decreased 1.2 percent from 2017, however appropriations for salaries and wages slightly rose slightly to the tune of 0.75 percent. The township settled six collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions this year, all including 2 percent raises, the cost of which were largely negated by healthcare cost savings that were central to negotiations.
The budget will maintain a police force of 160 police officers and replaces all members of the police department who will retire this year.