Brick Township Mayor Lisa Crate introduced her first budget Tuesday night, exactly one month into her tenure, presenting a spending plan that leaves property tax rates flat.
Telling those gathered at a council meeting that she was “adhering to the fiscally-conservative principles that began in 2014 when Mayor Ducey took office,” Crate submitted her proposed 2023 spending plan to the governing body. The total budget this year, as proposed, totals $115,739,974, an increase of 3.4 percent over last year. But thanks to retiring debt and other measures, the tax rate will remain stable for the municipal portion of a resident’s tax bill.
The budget will be supported through a $80,819,568 tax levy, with the remainder being sourced through state and federal funding, grants, recurring income such as solar energy credits, and surplus funding.
Crate said she recognized that inflation and economic uncertainty is affecting many Brick families, and “I did not want to add to those hardships, so I worked with our financial team” to keep the property tax rate stable.
“This administration and its financial team have succeeded in keeping spending below the rate of inflation,” Crate said.
Since Ducey took office in 2014, the township’s operating budget has grown by 17 percent, underpacing the nation’s 22 percent inflation rate. In the previous decade, from 2004 to 2014, the budget grew by 72 percent compared to a 23 percent inflation rate. Brick has also retired $39.6 million debt, and will continue to do so in 2023 and future budgets, Crate said.
“Moving forward, I will continue to be conservative and deliberate in terms of what the township funds through bonding,” Crate said.
The full budget proposal is now a public document since it was unanimously introduced by the township council, and Shorebeat will publish a future story with a wider view of the plan. Under Brick’s form of government, the mayor, as chief executive, submits a budget proposal to the township council, which is introduced through a resolution. The council is empowered to modify the budget over the course of several weeks, and a public hearing is required before a second vote is taken to adopt the plan and implement it for the remainder of the year.
This year’s budget hearing will be held at the April 25 council meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the township municipal complex.
Crate was sworn in as Brick’s mayor Feb. 28 following the departure of fellow Democrat John Ducey, who received an appointment as a Superior Court judge. Ducey was sworn in as a judge last week; Crate will represent her party in November’s general election to complete the remaining two years of Ducey’s term against Republican challenger, state Assemblyman John Catalano.