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Letter From Holmdel's Mayor: Tackling the $2.5M Budget Gap

Mayor Patrick Impreveduto responds to suggestions from residents, and talks about the long-term plan to bring the municipal budget back into balance.

Dear Resident,

Recently you received a letter regarding the need for the Holmdel Township Committee to close a $2.5 million funding gap in the municipal budget, and the options being considered by the Committee. That letter and the media coverage of our budget issues have generated a tremendous amount of feedback. This feedback will be very helpful in determining the course taken by the Committee and it is greatly appreciated.

Many of you have suggested spending cuts – typically identifying 10 – 12% as a target - as a way of closing the budget deficit.   Over the past few years, in an effort to keep property taxes low despite decreased state aid and major cost increases,  the Township Committee has in fact made significantly deeper cuts than those suggested. We reduced our workforce by 29 people - a 22% reduction - including reducing the police force by 8 officers. We shared services with other municipalities and the county, and we have merged or eliminated functions.  Our Public Employee unions have stepped up, making contract concessions and providing give-backs of pay and benefits.  Unlike many municipalities, our public employees do not receive lifetime health benefits upon retirement.

If it were possible to cut our way to a balanced budget rather than raise taxes or sell assets, and do it in a way which would not have a major negative impact on our town and the services we provide, believe me we would do it. Unfortunately, there is no way to do that.

Simply put, the major cost reductions have been done already. We could not cut $2.5 million, or a significant portion of that amount, without decimating the police department and the Township staff. All non-essential departments, would have to be eliminated. Essentially we would be cutting services to the bone and putting public safety in jeopardy.

We will continue to pursue efficiencies and evaluate staffing levels. But again, cutting our way out of this budget gap is not a viable option.

Our long-term goal is to move to a point of balanced, sustainable revenues and operations over the next 3-5 years, (88% of our tax revenue come from our residents while only 12%come from commercial) while maintaining Holmdel’s uniquely desirable characteristics. This will include effective redevelopment of the Lucent site, compatible and high quality commercial and retail development in appropriate zones, and continued organizational improvement and efficiency.  We are already taking steps to achieve this point: working with the owners of the Lucent property, establishing a more business-friendly development process for quality projects, and joining in County and State economic development activities.

Implementing this 3-5 year plan, however, might require a need to exceed the state mandated 2% property tax cap this year. It is our firm belief that if this action were to come to fruition it will alleviate the need for us to exceed the cap for a significant period of time.

However, if this is our choice, as part of our 3-5 year plan to balance revenues and expenses, we will ask you the residents of Holmdel to approve a referendum to exceed the budget cap in April

We will continue to pursue all available options and consider your input as we move forward.

Thank you.

Pat Impreveduto

Mayor

Holmdel Township

Tony Orsini February 23, 2012 at 04:06 PM
He can say it as many times as he likes (along with "I really don't want to sell the land), but if he put in the effort Larry Fink did, there would be a different result. Once 1 TC used surplus funds to cover a defecit, they all did (some simply did not exhaust the funds). MARK MY WORDS once we start selling land, it will continue as long as this town has a Republican administration.
Tony Orsini February 23, 2012 at 04:07 PM
P.S. would you be willing to sign a recall petition so we can prove you wrong?
Frank Di Paolo February 23, 2012 at 05:29 PM
It appears that our good mayor is not up to the task at hand. He is clearly in opposition to the will of the residents of Holmdel. He should step aside and turn the reins of leadership over to someone who is capable of making tough decisions. He refuses to accept that raising taxes is not an option and clearly selling assets is not the only alternative. We will no longer tolerate "tax and spend politics." The town should hire an independent accounting firm to cut expenses in order to cover the shortfall.
Jeff Rossi February 23, 2012 at 05:46 PM
I agree with Bobby and Deannie above. Let's see the proposed budget so we can offer thoughtful suggestions as opposed to random thoughts about cuts. Yes, it will likely create a barrage of "suggestions", but that's the price of engaging the public - and to me it's the right way to run the town. We have an awful lot of intelligent people in town and I'd like to think that there can be contributions that would help pave the way for a semi-palatable solution. That said, if there are no more cuts to be made, let's see what the town admins see. In my professional life in the private sector, "we can't cut anymore" is not an answer if the organization needs to reduce additional expenses. You find a way to cut more and manage expectations about what you can deliver. Personally, I can stomach temporary tax assessments better than I can land sales.
Tony Orsini February 23, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I've just got to say this: some of you folks have added immensely to this discussion. Where are you when I am looking for candidates? Party labels are superfluous at the municipal level. It's all about issues. Please consider stepping forward for your town. I have a wonderful group of folks waiting and ready to embrace you.

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