By DON STINE
ASBURY PARK – It looks like the new Asbury Park City Council, which will be seated July 1, will have to deal with the city’s 2013 municipal budget, which has not been introduced yet.
Only two members of the incoming council – Deputy Mayor John Loffredo and Councilwoman Sue Henderson have any knowledge of the budget. Three newcomers, John Moor, Amy Quinn and Myra Campbell, are scheduled to be sworn in July 1 along with the two incumbents.
Councilman James Bruno, who did not seek reelection, said he finds it hard to believe that this year’s budget has not been introduced yet.
“This is one of the longest periods I can remember without the budget being introduced,” he said.
Bruno pointed out that half the budget has already been spent because it is now June.
“At the very least we should introduce the budget. It just tells me it’s a bad budget that the next council will have to deal with. I just can’t buy into these excuses. We know we are getting cuts in state aid and we need to plan for that,” he said.
He said the council was previously told by state officials that they can introduce the budget after May 15.
“And it’s way past May 15 now…and any tax increases are pretty much unknown right now. So, it looks like any revisions will have to be handled by the next council,” Bruno said.
City Manager Terence Reidy said introducing the budget has been delayed partly pending the outcome from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about possible additional funding due to Superstorm Sandy and due to state aid figures.
Reidy said this week that the city recently found out it is not eligible for additional FEMA money but that some funding may still be coming in from Community Development Block Grant money, for which the city has applied for more than $1 million.
He also said that state aid figures have also not been released yet.
“We expect the state to soon tell us what to anticipate in funding when we introduce the budget and what other aid we can expect,” he said.
He said that if the budget is introduced soon then the state will have given the city some guidance on funding figures before then.
John Moor, who was top vote-getter in the recent election, said it looks like the new council will just have to handle the matter.
“It’s unusual but perhaps not unprecedented and we are just going to have to deal with it. The tough part is anticipating what the budget will be,” he said.
Moor said when he and his fellow candidates were campaigning taxes were a big issue among voters.
“A lot of people are worried about the tax situation but, until we see the budget, we are in the same quandary as everybody else and will have to wait and see. We are out of the loop- the same as everybody else. We have to see how bad the gap is going to be and what can be done to correct it,” he said.
Moor said he is concerned that it is not going to be a good budget because of fiscal problems in previous budgets and a $1 million shortfall in last year’s budget due to deferred medical premiums.
The federal Community Disaster Loan Fund called for the city to document and estimate any lost revenues, such as parking fees, by comparing them with last year’s numbers. This estimate will then be submitted to the FEMA for possible reimbursement but the city did not qualify for this program.