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In Case You Missed it: Gov't 101 with Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds

Resident James McEowen, a member of the Holmdel Republicans, shares his notes on the March 12 lecture.

"Holmdel Government Made Easy" was presented at the Holmdel Senior/Community Center on March 12. About 50 people attended the talk given by Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds, who joined the governing body in 2011. His goal was not so much to tackle current "hot" issues, but give useful information about how Holmdel's government operates.

In attendance were his colleagues on the Township Committee and several members of the Holmdel Board of Education.

In his opening remarks, Hinds said that many folks complain about town government issues, but do not get involved in helping to resolve them. He wants to get people to get involved. "There are a lot of bright people in Holmdel, but we need to harness that intellectual capital better," he said. 


Hinds touched on the following governing bodies and described their role relative to Holmdel.

COUNTY COMMITTEE (CC)
This is the first form of elected government in Holmdel. 
10 males and 10 females represent each of ten districts in Holmdel - for both the Democrats and the Republicans. 
If residents wish to get involved, they should contact:
Chairperson Marcy McMullen, if they are registered as a Republican. 
Chairperson Tony Orsini, if they are registered as a Democrat. 

The role of each County Committee is to recruit, promote, and work to get Democrats/Republicans elected to the Township Committee. 
They also vote, with other Monmouth County communities, for Freeholders - to fill absences during non-election years.

TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE (TC)
Not all towns operate in the same manner. In Holmdel there are five members. They serve three year terms. The mayor and deputy mayor are elected by the group .
Their responsibilities are to conduct municipal business by legislation through ordinances or resolutions, approval and adoption of the annual budget, and the formulation of policy to be carried out by the staff. 
They meet twice a month, on Thursdays. The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 p.m 
The members also work in pairs on subcommittees, which includes the Alcatel-Lucent property redevelopment, public works, public safety, planning, finance, etc. 

WHERE TAXES GO
The current breakdown of the Holmdel property tax bill is 67% schools, 14% county, 2% open space, ~1% library, and 15 % municipal. 
The total municipal budget is $19.5 million ($13 million goes towards salaries and benefits).
There is approximately $77 million total taxes collected per year.  
The Holmdel debt service is about $2 million. 

New Jersey is not putting as much money into pension funds as in previous years. The difference has to be made up by the municipalities.

Liability insurance is held jointly with other towns. 

BUDGET GAP
a $2.5M budget gap was forecast, due to:
- loss of Lucent occupancy
- bad economy, less commercial taxes, light permit activity
- less state aid
- debt service approaching $2 million
- no new revenue sources
- no interest on money in accounts  (2008 - $3.4 million, 2012 - $1.9 million)
- 2012 surplus only $500 million
- real estate valuations $3.8 billion now vs $4.6 billion in 2008
 (net tax value -($2.3 million)

In Holmdel, 88% of our revenue comes from real estate taxes. Deputy Mayor Hinds believes Holmdel needs to raise the valuations throughout Holmdel.


BOARD OF EDUCATION
There are four schools: Village, Indian Hill, Satz, High School. 
The 9-member Board of Education is elected by the community to a 3-year term. There is no salary. 
Not too many people attend the twice-monthly meetings of the Board of Education, he said. 
The BOE's primary task is to oversee operations of the schools. The members also selects and employs the Superintendent of Schools and the Schools Business Administrator.  
Due to recent changes, if the budget stays within the 2% tax levy cap, there wil not be a public budget vote. 
The total budget is $56 million. Of that $42 million goes for salaries and benefits.

Board member Mike Sockol, of the group's Budget and Finance Committee, will introduce the school budget on March 14.
Board President Barbara Garrity thinks it is good to have a non-partisan school board.

MISCELLANEOUS
The town has three unions to negotiate with. Holmdel follows a state mandate for health insurance. (Over the next 4 years, employees will contribute $400K towards their health insurance.)

Speeding tickets - the state gets all the revenue!

Mike March 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Can someone clarify this issue for me? - real estate valuations $3.8 billion now vs $4.6 billion in 2008 (net tax value -($2.3 million) In Holmdel, 88% of our revenue comes from real estate taxes. Deputy Mayor Hinds believes Holmdel needs to raise the valuations throughout Holmdel. First, if valuations are down throughout Holmdel, doesn't the town simply adjust the rate at which we're taxed (i.e. 15 cents per $100) to make up the difference? Second, what did Mr. Hinds mean when he said we need to raise valuations in Holmdel? Is he saying that there needs to be another reassessment on market values for properties, with the idea that values will go up and thus tax revenue for the town will go up? Any clarification would be appreciated. Thanks.
Christina Johnson (Editor) March 14, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Hi Mike -- I contacted Hinds this morning, who offered the following response: "I want to raise the value of our town. Houses have fallen and our commercial value has fallen with it. My statement was that my role is to help with a plan that will accomplish this. If we are successful bringing the Lucent property back and we can attract business to that location it will help raise the value of the entire town."
Ray March 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Do we keep the revenue of other traffic violation tickets? Thx.
Mike March 14, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Jeff, excellent point. You took the words right out of my mouth. I wish the same (both on the local level and the national level for that matter).
Mike March 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Christina, thank you for clarifying. I'm still interested in clarification on the other issue as well, in regards to a net reduction in tax revenue, if anyone can add color to that.
Robert March 14, 2012 at 09:08 PM
A MUST PRESENTATION FOR ALL CITIZENS OF HOLMDEL ! Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds did an excellent job of presenting an overview of Governement 101 in Holmdel allowing citizens to frame intelligent questions and elected officials to make intelligent policies for important issues facing the Township. Kudos to the Deputy Mayor Hinds, the Mayor and the other township committee members who showed up as well as the Holmdel Board of Education representatives who were there, Hopefully, the clarity of presentation by Mr.Hinds will continue with the Budget Presentation of the Holmdel Board of Education so that the citizens of Holmdel can frame intelligent questions about the School Board Budget that impacts the Townhip of Holmdel so greatly.
Jennifer March 15, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Very true. I cannot in good conscience at this weird juncture in history self-identify as either Republican or democrat. I think for myself, and my views can fall on either side of any particular line. I like to think that I am an independent thinker, which is why I am registered as an independent. According to the current system, my ' intellectual capital ' is of no use to the town.
Christina Johnson (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 11:31 AM
When a Holmdel Police Officer writes a summons, the Township gets all court costs, and 25% of the fine (both moving and non moving summonses) minus any mandatory penalties, said Holmdel Lt. Michael Smith. If an officer writes a Local Ordinance Violation the Township gets all the money, he said. For State Police issued violations on the Garden State Parkway the township only gets court costs if the subject appears in Holmdel Municipal Court, otherwise all the money goes to the state.
Independent Holmdel Resident May 16, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Please Robert, Give me a break!!

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