Brick Township is facing significant increases in state-mandated assessments and insurance premiums in 2022, as well as higher labor costs, but Mayor John Ducey said this week that his proposed spending plan for the year was aimed at reducing expenses elsewhere and maintaining as stable a tax rate as possible.
To that end, Brick residents will pay more in municipal taxes this year, but the increase for a resident with a home assessed at $251,800, the township’s average, will see an increase of $48 per year, about 13 cents per day. The tax rate will increase 1.9 cents per $100 of assessed real property value to 76.6 cents.
Ducey cited several items that have risen in cost significantly over last year. Trenton has mandated a $500,000 increase in the amount it assesses the local government to plug holes in its pension system, and wage increases within the township’s police department – the largest department in the township – will rise by $529,000. Bond principal repayments will rise by $587,443, and the most dramatic increase has come from the township’s insurance carrier, which is imposing a hike of $1,580,000 in premiums for 2022.
“We worked with our department and division heads to go over the budget to look for opportunities to stabilize or reduce costs,” said Ducey, who introduced the township’s 2022 budget Tuesday night. “This is something we do every year. I’m proud of this administration and council’s record on spending management.”
Ducey said that during the nine years he has been in office, the budget has increased an average of $1.4 million per year, compared to $4.5 million annually in the nine years prior. Ducey attributes the budget stabilization to a “record of fiscal conservatism” as well as a plan on which his administration has been focused for nearly a decade – reducing debt load. Indeed, the township’s debt has been reduced by $18 million over eight budget cycles.
The township’s overall operating budget this year will be $111,254,968, supported by a tax levy of $80,547,357. The remainder of revenue comes in the form of federal and state aid, grant funding and ancillary fees and contracts.
“This makes up about one-third of your tax bill,” said Ducey.
The bulk of one’s property tax bill goes toward the Brick public school district, with Ocean County, local fire districts and smaller taxing entities such as the county library system and open space funds making up the remainder.
Brick will keep $13733,718 in surplus this year. During Ducey’s tenure, the surplus balance has risen over $10 million. At one point, the township government had been using as much as 99.42 percent of its total surplus fund to balance the operating budget, leaving little to no funds available for emergencies.
“Every year I stress the important of having a healthy surplus balance, as it is an indicator of fiscal health for a municipality,” Ducey said.
The township council on Tuesday night unanimously introduced Ducey’s budget as part of a resolution. Under state law, the budget will be subject to state approval, a formal public hearing and second vote before it is finally adopted. That hearing was scheduled for the April 26 council meeting.