Mayor John G. Ducey is presenting his 2017 spending plan and preliminary revenue projections to the Township Council on February 21. This year’s spending plan is $4,451,617 less than 2016 and calls for a reduction of ½ cent on the municipal tax rate.
“This year’s budget is the culmination of four years of strong fiscal management and responsible fiscal policies,” said Mayor Ducey. “We have created a culture of fiscal responsibility in town hall that has enabled us to slow the growth of municipal spending, reduce the township’s debt, stabilize the tax rate, rebuild the township’s surplus and make the financial health of Brick Township stronger than it has been in many years.”
Municipal spending in 2017 is expected to be $100,337,745. Over the past four years, the budget has grown 1.9%. In the previous four-year periods, the municipal budget increased 28% (2010-2013), 19% (2006-2009), 27% (2002 – 2005) and 24% (1998-2001). The average 4-year increase from 1990-2013 was 21.8%.
The current spending and revenue plans call for a municipal tax rate of 68.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is a decrease of ½ cent and will result in a reduction of $14.71 in municipal taxes for a home with an average assessment of $294,100.
Superstorm Sandy continues to impact the township’s budget. This year’s spending plan includes $1,484,000 in special emergency principal pay off for Sandy, equal to 1.44 cents on the tax rate. This is the township’s final payment for this cost. While the township’s ratable base increased by $18.66 million this year, it is still $341.7 million less than pre-Sandy levels.
The 2017 Budget includes $13,493,521 in debt service payments. The Township’s net debt as of January 1, 2017 is $151,310,134. The Township of Brick’s debt on January 1, 2014 when Mayor Ducey began his term was $168,335,337. At the end of this year, Mayor Ducey’s net debt reduction plan will have succeeded in reducing the township’s debt by $18,293,203.
“One of my top fiscal priorities was to reduce the township’s debt. Debt had ballooned from $82 million in 2004 to $168 million by the end of 2013. We knew that reducing the township’s debt was necessary if we wanted to restore Brick Township’s fiscal health,” said Mayor Ducey. “We were able to do this while still continuing to address the needs of our community and fund important infrastructure projects.”
The current revenue plan utilizes $10,928,024 from surplus. This leaves the township with a surplus balance of $10,955,587, the highest dollar amount since at least 1993. The balance represents 10.92% of the budget, the highest amount since 1994.
“The surplus is essentially the township’s savings account. Having a healthy surplus available is a sign of fiscal responsibility and strength,” said Mayor Ducey. “There were several years where the township had less than $100,000 remaining in surplus, which put us in a very precarious position financially speaking. I am proud that we have been able to correct this.”
From 2008 – 2010, the Township maintained an average surplus balance of $59,681. Over Mayor Ducey’s four budgets, the Township has maintained an average surplus balance of $8,596,987, the highest four-year average in the township’s history.
The township’s debt reduction and healthy surplus has led to an Aa2 rating from Moody’s Investors Services and an upgrade from an AA- to an AA rating from Standard and Poor’s. These ratings are used to inform investors about the township’s creditworthiness. These are among the highest ratings these services offer and tell investors that the township is a high-quality, low-risk investment. This can result in lower borrowing costs for the township.
Mayor Ducey credits the Council and the municipal staff for their efforts to improve Brick Township’s financial standing. “When I took the oath of Mayor, I made bringing fiscal discipline one of my goals. That would not have been possible without the Council and staff buying in to that mindset and everyone working together to achieve that goal. I am grateful for their work and proud of what we have done and we will continue to work to make Brick Township a better, safer and more affordable community.”