Sparta Township Manager David Troast on Tuesday explained the goals he has set for gathering the necessary financial information and creating a review schedule to ensure the Township Council completes the 2013 municipal budget on time.
He said the key tasks will be incorporating uncertain state aid, the impact of annual tax appeals and keeping the tax levy increase within the state-mandated 2 percent cap.
Troast said the council needs to get the budget introduced and passed according to the schedule set by the state Department of Community Affairs.
“This is something that has been an issue in the past,” Troast said.
The township’s passed a $23.4 million budget for 2012 that called for raising $15.6 million in local taxes. The municipal tax rate for 2012 is 66.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, but rises to 72 cents when the library and local open spaces taxes are included.
Troast said he set broad goals to drive the 2013 budget process.
The first goal is to minimize the overall municipal tax increase while providing for the health, public safety and general welfare of the township’s residents.
The second goal is to adhere to the timetable set by DCA. This goal includes setting meetings with department heads to review their 2012 budgets and get basic information on the needs for 2013. The third goal is to incorporate the financial data, and the fourth to ensure the budget is passed on time.
Mayor Jerry Murphy suggested a fifth goal: Incorporating the information from the audit of the 2011 budget into the planning process.
Councilman Gilbert Gibbs said he would like to see the goals include presenting the council with a quarterly review of the current budget.
Troast said he would be able to generate a review of the first three quarters of the year for the council’s review.
In related issues, the council approved a new 5-year shared service agreement with Byram for emergency dispatching services. The new arrangement will run until 2017. Last year Byram paid Sparta $478,000 for the service, according to the 2012 budget.
The council also approved the purchase of the property at 25 Hopkins Corner Road from owner Charlotte Hughes for $100,000. Troast said the purchase was made to help reduce the impact of flooding on six or eight homes in that neighborhood.
The council also approved the implementation of new court security measures that were ordered by Judge Thomas Weisenbeck, the Superior Court assignment judge for Morris and Sussex counties.
The township will install a metal detector scanner and hire two special police officers for the court. The scanner is estimated to cost $5,000 and the police officer are expected to be paid $20 an hour, Police Chief Ernest Reigstad told the council previously.