Township taxpayers won't see an increase in their municipal taxes this year.
The township council formally introduced an $86,818,351 operating budget Tuesday night that leaves the tax rate stable at 63.6 cents, the
same rate as 2011.
The budget maintains the current level of municipal services, including public works.
An earlier budget proposal by Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis had cut the budget by $8 million and . Residents would have had to hire private haulers for trash collection if that budget had gone through.
But the spending plan, unanimously endorsed by members of the governing body on Tuesday night, keeps the department while coming in $1,768,758 under a state-imposed 2 percent tax levy cap.
The budget also funds a police unit known as the Selective Enforcement, or , which focuses police resources toward certain areas of crime such as gang activity. The unit had previously been disbanded due to budget cuts.
This year's budget utilizes $4,901,828 worth of surplus funding, leaving the township with $3,471,697 in its surplus account, the highest balance left in over a decade, according to Council President John Ducey.
The surplus is higher because so-called "one shot" influxes of money such as $2.5 million expected to be generated by the French's Landfill solar field as well as a $1 million donation from the BTMUA are being counted as surplus instead of going to fund the actual operating budget.
Overall, the budget is supported by $67,571,077 to be raised from property taxes, $244,320 less than last year, mainly due to a round of successful tax appeals that lessened the township's tax base.
"The Brick Township council recognizes the current economic situation is hurting many people and the township budget will reflect that financially," Ducey said.
"We literally went through the entire blue book, line by line," said Councilman Dan Toth, a member of the council's Budget and Finance Committee which labored over the budget document.
Toth said small cuts – some as low as the cost of a magazine subscription – were made to almost every department to save enough money to keep the tax rate stable despite the reduced tax base.
"Those are the types of adjustments we made," he said. "When you add them up, the pennies make nickels and the nickels make dimes and so forth."
Acropolis said without funding from last year's and resulting tax hike, an issue he said current Democrats on the council campaigned on, there would have been no way to fund public works. That line of thinking, he said, was behind his push to roll back the referendum and eliminate the department.
"Without the $8 million from the referendum, it would be a different budget," Acropolis said. "And from the very beginning, that's the only thing we wanted you [the new council], the old council members and the public to know."
"That's a great job, $150,000 out of $87 million," said Acropolis, taking a jab at the amount council members cut from the previous year's budget.
Council members, however, said the budget represents a spending plan that keeps the township on sound financial footing without raising taxes or reducing services.
"I believe we really did a pretty good job on this," said Councilman Jim Fozman, who noted that the budget includes funding for the township's snow emergency account.
Council Vice President Bob Moore painted a picture of a sound financial future.
"Looking forward, things look real good," he said.