RANDOLPH,NJ-At a council meeting Thursday, March 20, town manager John Lovell read from a consolidated draft of the proposed town budget that will go to a vote on April 24.

“We finished 2013 in very good financial shape in Randolph Township.  Things are turning around, and we think we’re going to embark on several years of modest growth,” Lovell said.

Lovell talked over the broad outlines of Randolph’s fiscal position with the council. Ratables - sources within the town that provide tax income - are on the rise.  “We expect, with a growing ratable base, to be in good shape in 2014 and beyond,” he said.  “But the decisions we make with regard to the budget will determine just how strong we are at the end of the next fiscal year.”

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This position of strength is what gives Randolph the option not to have to borrow against an expensive tax map revision and revaluation.  “Some towns borrow and pay it back over a period of years.  We decided that since we came off a year of strong of revenue showings that we’d use that strength to fund the project with cash.”

Another result of this fiscal strength was the decision to draw down on the reserve.  The reserve is a fund that’s maintained so that the town can pay for all aspects of the budget, even if collections show up lower than anticipated.  It is in essence a buffer against tax appeals, which are on the decline in Randolph.  The rate of collected taxes “is getting stronger and stronger,” Lovell emphasized.

Lovell wrapped up budget discussion for the time being with a word of gratitude for recently retired town CFO Mike Soccio.  “On a personal note, Mike Soccio really did a lot of work on this budget,” he said.  For Soccio’s more than 30 years of service, “we owe him an extreme debt of gratitude.”

Later, council passed a motion extending Randolph’s contract to provide the Swift911 Emergency Notification System.  The technology allows town hall to notify residents at once, via text or recorded phone message, in case of emergency or to provide important information.  To renew on another two-year contract will cost the town $9,108 per year.