Amidst an uncertain year ahead, Brick officials – over a teleconference system – introduced the 2020 municipal budget, which will come with a tax increase Mayor John Ducey described as “slight.”
The increase is just under 2 cents per $100 of assessed real estate valuation, which will translate to an increase of $55.87 per year for the owner of a home at the township average of $294,000. The budget proposal adds four police officers, but the tax increase mainly is attributed to increases in cost of employee health benefits and state-mandated pension contributions, Ducey said.
“We must continue services as a township,” said Ducey, in a short version of what is often a high-profile event in towns like Brick, which use a strong-mayor system of government. “That’s why we must move forward with the budget process.”
The budget, in its entirety, is approximately $106 million. The exact figures were not available due to the virtual nature of the meeting and a lack of a physical copy of the proposal being available as it is in most years.
Overall, the municipal budget – which is not inclusive of any increases from school or county taxes – will rise $2,274,132, or just shy of 2 cents on the tax scale.
“We did ask our department heads to sharpen their pencils,” said Ducey, who explained his method for budgeting after being asked by a member of the public why the tax rate had increased.
During Ducey’s seven years as mayor, one budget year included a tax decrease while other included hikes that were largely negligible. Describing the need for an increase this year, the mayor pointed to the controversial vote earlier this decade where residents approved a large property tax increase in order to keep public works and other services.
“It started off a little bit higher [this year], but we don’t want to get in the ways of the past where there were zero percent, zero percent, then 24 percent,” Ducey said.
The council also authorized the use of its storm preparedness fund for response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Government doesn’t stop, and we all must move forward to do our duties,” Ducey said.