Township Puts Final Touches On 2017 Budget; Looks To Be Less Than 2016

Township Clerk Ann Marie McCarthy asked the council to increase a part-time position in her office to full-time.

Township officials anticipate the 2017 budget will allow them to do a little more with a little less.

As in, a little more in services with a little less spending.

And that’s even after creating one new full-time position, increasing a current part-time position to full-time, and adding another part-time position, at a price tag of about $145,000 in salaries.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker told the Township Council, after its Feb. 21 budget hearing, that the spending plan he anticipates to be introduced at the Feb. 28 meeting will be “slightly less in appropriations than last year and slightly more in revenue.”

“We’re saving a little bit of money and doing the same things we used to do, plus a little bit more,” he said. “The anticipation is we will have a budget introduced that is slightly less than the 2016 budget.”

The township’s 2016 budget was about $59.5 million.

Two of the new positions were suggested by Vornlocker: a part-time public information coordinator, and a full-time economic development business advocate.

The part-time position carries a salary of about $25,000, and the full-time position a salary of $90,000, Vornlocker said.

The township has had a business advocate in the past, but never concurrent with an economic development plan, Vornlocker said.

“To have a full-time economic development coordinator without an economic development plan is pointless, and that’s how it’s been done in the past,” he said.

A township economic development plan is in the works, with a report promised to the council by the township’s consultant sometime in March.

“I think that this township has done things on the cheap for so long when it comes to this,” he said. “It is time we promote this town. This cant be part-time, this can’t be half-time, this needs to be full-time, all the time.”

“I hear the pleas of council people, I hear the pleas of builders, I hear the pleas of developers, they’re unhappy with the services provided,” Vornlocker said. “This needs to be done. This is a long time coming.”

“Doing it without a full-time person whose solo job is this is pointless, I firmly believe it is necessary,” he said. “We have made sacrifices where can make sacrifices, we have made cuts where we could make cuts, we have held spending where we could hold spending. The time has come.”

The part-time position would be responsible for putting together the township’s quarterly newsletter and for handling the township’s social media effort, he said.

“These are things where I think we’ve reached a point where it is no longer practical for a full-time staff member, who has a full-time job, putting out a quarterly newsletter,” he said. “I think the time has come when we do have someone as a central point person to work with me and the IT person and the economic development coordinator, once we have that position filled, to get the word out on that front and involve not only the newsletter but social media and our media outlets.”

“We are making a huge investment in economic development in this town, and we need someone who can take it and run with it,” Vornlocker said.

Township Council members seemed to be behind Vornlocker’s request.

“You’ve justified it,” Councilman James Vassanella (D-Ward 5) said.

“This has been totally vetted,” Councilwoman Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) said. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

Speaking of the business advocate, Councilwoman Rozalyn Sherman (D-Ward 2) said, “I think without it, the whole plan would be worthless.”

The other proposed full-time position is currently a part-time position in the Township Clerk’s office.

Township Clerk Ann Marie McCarthy told the council that she needs the position because the clerk’s office is getting busier, especially with the potential retirement of deputy clerk Ginny Woodbury.

One of the things the new person would do is handle Open Public Records Act requests, McCarthy said.

“We’ve had a huge increase in OPRA requests, we get over 1,000 a year,” she said. “It’s taking more time. One day, if we were ever totally digital, it would take seconds rather than hours or days for one request.”

McCarthy said she also needs help in scanning documents.

“We’ve got cabinets and cabinets of things that can be scanned,” she said. “I just can’t get to it, because we’re extremely busy. That’s what this person would be utilized for.”

McCarthy said the salary for the position would be about $30,000.

In other line items, Vornlocker told the council that the assessor’s office budget decreased more than $13,000, primarily due to the reduction in the number of large tax appeals.

“We feel that the large appraisals are coming to a close and the likelihood of us needing those appraisals to the extent we did in prior years is decreasing,” he said.

The township police department budget posted an $11,000 decrease in its education and training budget, Vornlocker said. He said that’s because most officers have achieved their educational goals, and new hires already have their advanced degrees.

The department’s dispatch budget has a $12,000 increase over last year, to $196,050, Vornlocker said. That increase, he said, “is almost exclusively our maintenance contract with Motorola.”


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