MIDDLETOWN MAYOR PROPOSES DECISIVE ACTION ON BUDGET
MIDDLETOWN – As New Jersey’s financial crisis continues to take its toll on municipalities, Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger is proposing decisive action to address a significant projected shortfall in Middletown’s budget this fiscal year.
Steep cuts in state aid, a decline in Township revenues, spiraling health care costs, a wave of early retirements resulting from pension and benefit reforms, the continued application of unfunded mandates by the state, and extraordinary snow removal and roadway repair costs have combined to create the most difficult financial conditions the Township of Middletown has likely ever faced.
“It is clear that present financial conditions call for drastic action, requiring that everything be put on the table—including significant reductions in the Township’s workforce,” said Mayor Scharfenberger. “While the municipal portion of the budget only makes up approximately 20% of our property tax bills and we have already reduced the Township’s workforce by 15% through attrition, we simply cannot allow the burden on property taxpayers to grow any further in this economy.”
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“We must take unprecedented steps to cut spending and reshape the way the Township operates,” continued Scharfenberger. “These proposals are difficult, yet essential if we are to survive these uncertain times. I feel the Township will emerge stronger for having taken these measures and remain on solid financial footing for the future.”
“We, however, need the state to provide us with additional tools that require statutory and regulatory changes, such as the elimination of COAH and civil service reforms,” concluded Scharfenberger.
IMMEDIATE PROPOSED ACTIONS
1. Across the board 10-15% reduction in operations and expenditures by all departments, including immediate planning for reductions in workforce.
2. Outsource fire safety inspections through shared services agreement.
3. Outsource public assistance functions with County.
4. Immediately impose application of 1.5% contribution of total salary by all employees for health benefits coverage on top of pre-existing contributions upon effective date of recently signed reforms by Governor Christie.
5. Immediately impose application of cap on all unused sick and vacation day payouts upon retirement to $15,000 for positions not already subject to such caps upon effective date of recently signed reforms by Governor Christie.
6. Demand a 0% increase in salary for all employees for 2010.
7. Expedite sale or transfer of operations of Middletown Swim Club and other surplus properties via public auctions.
8. Account for all forfeited contributions in LOSAP program to cover 2010 contribution.
9. Impose 5 to 10 unpaid furlough days during summer months.
10. Require Township Administrator’s approval on all purchase orders in excess of $1,000.00.
11. Explore the transfer of all parks maintenance to Department of Public Works.
12. Suspend or eliminate all non-essential services, including the cancellation of all outstanding unused bonds authorized but for those for essential roadway resurfacing and reconstruction.