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New Bus, Pickup Truck On Township Departments’ 2015 Budget Wish Lists

2015 budget hearing1

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker told the Township Council Feb. 9 that the overall 2015 tax levy would increase by about 2.7 percent.

 


Requests for a new bus for senior citizens and a new pickup truck for the township’s Fire Prevention department were made Feb. 9 during the Township Council’s first hearing on the proposed 2015 budget.

The council heard from the heads of nine township departments during the session.

The roughly $57 million proposed budget was put together by Township Manager Robert Vornlocker.

The proposed township budget – minus the township library budget – is powered by a $34.7 million proposed tax levy, up $1.3 million from 2014, Vornlocker said.

Vornlocker said that although the proposed amount to be raised by taxes is 4 percent more than last year, a 1.2 percent increase in property valuations – to $9 billion – will cut the actual tax levy increase to 2.7 percent.

The proposed total budget figure is about $125,000 more than the 2014 budget, Vornlocker said, an increase he said was spurred by a request from the Hamilton Street Advisory Committee – the group tasked with revitalizing the Hamilton Street business district – for four police officers for the district.

Salaries for those four officers would cost $125,000, Vornlocker said.

The proposed budget, Vornlocker said, “continues the trend of improved efficiency and reduced spending.”

The department heads who appeared at the Feb. 9 meeting reported their operating budgets as being either flat, reduced from last year or with minimal increases.

Some, though, did have large capital requests.

Alice Osipowitz, head of the recreation department, told the council that the bus used to transport senior citizens to the senior/community center needs to be replaced with a newer, larger model.

The routes are run by Somerset County, which leases the bus from the township, she said.

“The county called me in November-December and said we have to start thinking about a new bus,” Osipowitz said.

“It’s actually rusting out,” Vornlocker said. “The vehicle is rotting away from underneath and can’t be repaired.”

The current bus can hold 18 people, but the new bus needs to be able to hold 24 people, Osipowitz said.

The bus would cost about $135,000.

Osipowitz said the department also needs new tables and chairs for the senior center, at a cost of $48,000.

The tables and chairs are original with the center, she said, and run the risk of injuring someone.

John Hauss, head of the Fire Prevention department, said  his operating budget is down about $44,000, but he, too, needs a new vehicle.

Hauss requested two new vehicles last year, but settled for one. He said a Chevy Blazer with more than 100,000 miles on it needs to be replaced.

The truck “continuously breaks down,” he said.

The township’s Department of Public Works “has confirmed that the vehicle is due for replacement,” Vornlocker said.

The new pickup truck would cost about $37,000, Vornlocker said.

Township Clerk Ann Marie McCarthy said her budget increased about $8,000, mostly due to one-time costs.

She needs another $2,000 for proclamation folders, she said, as well as $1,000 for the council budget. That was due mainly to increased association costs, she said.

The biggest jump, $5,000, is due to the upcoming municipal elections, in which the mayor’s seat and there at-large council seats are up for grabs.

“The sample ballots will cost more,” she said.

Also reporting to the council Feb. 9 were Raven Williams from Human Resources; Diane Leach-Thompson from Community Resources; Damaris Santiago from Municipal Court; Joyce Miller from Purchasing; Carol Langhorne, the Collector of Revenue and Vince Lupo from Construction.

The next budget hearing will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 12. The council must have a budget by March.

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