Daily Archives: September 10, 2010

>The Choice This November

>Voter have choice this November — between Democrats who are moving America forward, and Republicans who want to take us back to the failed policies of the past.

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Filed under Democrats, November Elections, President Obama, Republicans, special interests

>Middletown’s Take on the Budget, with Comments

>The following press release was posted on Middletown’s website yesterday. The press release is the Township’s take on the newly adopted budget as usual it is a great spin job and very deceptive because no matter how you slice it, the municipal tax rate has been increased by nearly 12%. I would also point out that what’s in the press release is bull:

Township officials adopted an amended $64.7 million budget that reflects ongoing efforts to cut costs and keep the tax rate stable by cutting spending an additional $400,000.

“This year’s budget reflects a reduction of 40 staff positions, a salary freeze and across-the-board reductions in departmental operating budgets,” said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger. “In sum, the Township’s amended budget represents a 2.67% increase in total property taxes in an extraordinarily difficult economic year.”

Under the amended budget, the municipal tax rate will increase 4.6 cents to 39.75 cents per $100 of assessed value. This equates to approximately $17 per month for the average Township home assessed at $435,000.

“This year, municipal taxes represent just 23% of a resident’s tax bill, with 62% being levied for schools and 15% for the county,” concluded Scharfenberger.

The adopted budget addresses nearly $10 million in lost revenue, including:

  • $1.6 million cut in state aid.
  • $1.4 million obligation for retroactive pay under resolved labor contracts.
  • $1 million in increased health care costs and nearly $1 million in deferred excess claims from 2009.
  • $900,000 for extraordinary snow and storm clean-up.
  • $1.8 million in deferred pension payments mandated by the state.
  • $1 million in property tax appeal refunds.
  • $400,000 in lost recycling revenue.

Here’s my response:

  1. Middletown knew a state cut in aid was coming, as did every half wit in the State. State revenues were down like $4.0 billion.
  2. Middletown could have easily predicted the wage increases in unresolved contracts. Unless we negotiated zero percent increases for 3 years, we knew this was coming. Again, very predictable.
  3. On health care costs, Middletown knew they underbudgeted by at least $800,000 in 2009, since they did an emergency appropriation (none of our neighboring towns had to do this). So, Middletown started $800,000 in the whole, and Middletown knew they had to increase their appropriation for 2010 by around $1,000,000. Hello. Not to hard to foresee.
  4. $900,000 for snow plowing. Middletown only budgeted $165,000. The town cut the 2009 snow budget way too much, gambling that we would not have snow.
  5. Deferred pensions. Is Scharfenberger kidding? He voted to defer the pension payment. Sean Brynes and Patrick Short voted no. He knew in May 2009 that we would have to pay this in 2010
  6. The $1,000,000 in tax appeals. I don’t know about this one, I don’t think it’s even in the budget.
  7. Recyling lost revenue is correct, hey Schary got something right.
And here’s yet another way to show how misleading this press release is:
The tax rate, last year was $0.35 per $100 assessed value. A home valued at $435,000 would be required to pay $1,526.85. I have a home with an assessed value of $420,000 and paid over $6K in taxes last year.

Under the new tax rate of $0.3975 I will have to pay $1,729.13. This is an 11.7% increase no matter how you look at it.

Using some of the figures presented below:

Last year rate * this year increase = new tax rate
.35 * .0267 = 0.359345 or almost $0.36 per $100 assessed value

This year rate – last year rate = difference or this year increase
.3975 – .35 = .0475

This year increase / this year rate = percent increase
.0475 / .3975 = 11.95%

Amended budget – last year budget = difference
64.7M – 61.8M = 2.9M

Increase in this year / total budget = percent increase in overall budget
2.9M / 64.7M = 4.48%
The numbers are definately being misrepresented at best.

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Filed under adopted budget, budget introduction, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown NJ, Patrick Short, press release, Sean F. Byrnes, State aid cuts, tax appeals, tax increase