GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Township Council members are considering a budget their Manager Arch Liston said will help the township improve its financial standing for the future.
“This is not a great budget. This is not a good budget,” he said. “It’s a transitional budget.”
The council introduced the $24.2 million budget at Tuesday’s meeting that includes a small tax-rate increase, furloughs for employees and closing City Hall on Fridays during the summer.
Liston said the township was “handcuffed” with decisions regarding personnel since the township made an agreement with its unions not to have layoffs this year and last year. Under the budget proposal, the township will close City Hall on Fridays between June 15 and Aug, 30. The employees will take furloughs when City Hall is closed.
The council opted to include more than $1.2 million in deferred school taxes from the Great Egg Harbor Regional School District to close a shortfall. The money will have to be repaid to the district before the next academic year ends.
“These are things we have to do in the short term. In the long term we have to tighten our belts on a permanent basis,” Liston said. “We’re looking to mange the situation in the next 10 months so that on Jan. 1 (the township is in a better situation). To balance the budget we need to work with the unions.”
Council members said they didn’t want to use the money but felt they had no choice.
The proposal would increase the tax rate 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value. This means a $17 increase for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Mayor Don Purdy said the council could still make changes to the plan before they vote to adopt it at a future meeting.
“This is tough,” he said. “The morale of Galloway Township has been up and down like a roller coaster the past two years. We will balance the budget but it won’t be an easy task.”
Purdy said he hopes some costs stabilize and the real estate market improves which would mean more revenue from ratables for the township.
Police Chief Patrick Moran said there is a significant reduction proposed in the budget for his department, which will lose three positions through attrition.
Moran said he expects the budget to be reduced next year as the township plans to balance its costs.
“I am very concerned with the reduction in the budget but we are looking at all of our options,” he said. “We have already reduced most of the other programs but we will be re-evaluating and looking at making further reductions if necessary while keeping the safety and well-being of our community and the safety of our officers in mind.”
Also at the meeting, council appointed Liston to full-time position as manager. The council conducted interviews for the position March 5. Liston will also take the furlough days and his salary will be $93,200 this year.
Liston had been working as the acting manager for several weeks.
“He brings stability, knowledge,” Purdy said. “I feel very secure with this man sitting in that seat at the township Manager’s Office.”
The council also appointed T. C. Kay, the former mayor of Pemberton, as the township's acting clerk.
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