NEWTON, NJ - Newton's Town Council will hold its second pre-introduction budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21.
The $11.6 million proposed budget is up a little less than $200,000 from the proposed 2012 budget.
The town manager's budget statement identifies three important principles for the management of the town. First is maintaining cost effectiveness with increased staff productivity, targeted use of part-time personnel, volunteers, and technology and identifying inefficiencies.
The second is protecting core services. The administration is seeking to maintain the same levels of service as in 2012. The town government is also seeking to enhance revenue from outside sources to maintain the tax rate.
The budget statement shows the town takes 34.28 percent of the total tax bill. The Newton Board of Education takes 50.99 percent, Sussex County takes 13.28 percent, the county library one percent, the county open space department takes .06 percent and the county health department takes .39 percent.
Town of Newton Town Manager Thomas S. Russo, Jr., said there has been no confirmation on the amount of state aid, but his sources indicate it will be the same amount as 2012, $1,025,916.
“We’re grateful for any amount,” he added. “Years ago, state aid was 23 percent of the town budget,” Russo said. “Now it’s eight or nine percent.”
He is glad the percentage is lower. “I’d rather have our fate in our own hands,” he commented. "It’s better for budgeting purposes. I like being in control of our own destiny.”
Most line items remain close to the same from the 2012 budget. Health care expenses are not changing much. Reserve for uncollected taxes has dropped. Russo said the collection rate is up.
"This looks like a solid year,” he commented.
Council budgeted more funding for the planning board, $19,500, up from $18,700 in the 2012 budget. Russo explained there are no developments on the table but he likes to be able to consult with the board’s professionals on “ancillary” matters that cannot be charged to the escrow account of any particular applicant.
Russo is asking for the same road repair and maintenance budget as 2012, but the 2012 expenses were $43,198.93 of the $58,300 requested. Russo explained road repair is scheduled in conjunction with other infrastructure improvements, such as water and sewer lines so “we don’t end up having the tear a road up two years after paving.”
The water and sewer authority budget is separate from the town budget. The request is up from 2012, $4,223,250 up from $4,061,000. The actual revenue in 2012 was $4,386,968.65. Expenditures were $3,763,784.49.
Russo is pleased with the results of selling municipal property online. “We’ve done very well with online auctions,” he explained, adding old trucks and other vehicles are seen by people from all over, not just locals who come to municipal live auctions. “It’s technology meets what we always do.”
He said the town may try again to sell a building lot on Orchard Street that has failed to sell in the past.
“We’re putting out feelers, right now,” he said.
A slight drop in the parking authority budget is based on revenues, Russo said. There are no proposed changes in the structure or employees.
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