Ocean Township’s municipal tax rate will remain almost the same this year with the average homeowner actually seeing a small decrease in taxes.
“The township continues to evaluate the services it provides the taxpayers as we look for innovation ways to provide the same quality services with reducing the associated costs. We are not raising taxes to support the budget,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
The total $34,677,627 municipal budget for 2015 is up by $257,330, or by three-quarters of a percent, from last year’s $34,420,297 budget.
However, the amount to be raised through taxation remains stable at $20,668,097.
Actually, there will be a $7.41 decrease in taxes for an average home assessed at $397,490.
“Typically, we can see increases from $50 to $60 in a year so to have a decrease is a good thing. It is certainly heading in the right direction,” Siciliano said.
A budget presentation will be held at the Township Council’s March 18 meeting and a public hearing and possible adoption will be held at the April 2 meeting.
Siciliano said the budget allows for hiring of one more police officer, bringing the force to 60 officers.
He said the township has seen a $450,000 decrease in salaries and wages due to automated garbage pickup, with 20 employees collecting garbage in 2009 versus 13 employees this year.
“Overall, we have gotten rid of about 22 employees in the past seven years, all with no pink slips and while not compromising services- all through attrition,” he said.
Siciliano said municipal employees used to pay about 9 percent of their health premiums and that is now around 35 percent.
“We are trying to keep insurance costs in check,” he said.
Debt service remains flat at around $3 million
Siciliano also thanked former Mayor William F. Larkin, who he said “laid the groundwork” for keeping the municipal budget in check.
“And we are reaping the benefits of these policies now,” he said.