By Alison Bitterly
At Fair Haven Borough’s Monday night meeting, council members discussed the finalized plans for the town’s 2012 budget.
General budget talks took place last November, after which point Fair Haven department heads were requested to send their budget requirements along to Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande for review. After much deliberation, Casagrande has stated that the 2012 budget proposal will be published in the March 16th issue of ***ITALSThe Asbury Park Press**ENDTALS as well as on the Fair Haven Borough website (http://www.fairhavennj.org).
Council President and Chair of the Fair Haven Finance Committee Jonathan Peters provided detailed information on the budget during Monday’s council meeting. Peters, a professor of finance at University of Staten Island, shared a comprehensive presentation in which he outlined the steps that Fair Haven’s Finance Committee has taken to lower the budget and combat against the statewide economic crisis.
Peters stressed that Fair Haven’s goal over the past few years has been to avoid crisis management while seeking to “control costs and preserve town function”. The main goals for 2012 include budget tightening and targeting spending to address Fair Haven’s most important issues. The 2012 breakdown of Fair Haven property tax spending will be as follows:
For the fourth straight year, Fair Haven’s proposed budget has dropped—this time from $8,080,724 in 2011 to $8,019,777 for 2012. As Peters notes, in the early 2000s Fair Haven had been on a very aggressive budget growth trend, but the town’s Finance Committee has managed to slow that growth down. In the midst of statewide debt and fiscal crisis, “Fair Haven is rather an anomaly,” says Peters.
Fair Haven’s budget surplus currently stands at $2 million, and the borough council has steadily been cutting it down the past few years. Peters notes that a smaller surplus is not necessarily bad news, as no one wants to overtax town citizens. The overall goal of the 2012 budget is to meet the needs of the town without overburdening the public.
Peters and his Finance Committee are committed to staying on the stable fiscal path they set out on several years ago. While citizens should expect continued uncertainty when it comes to the level of state aid, they can rely on a continued emphasis on long-term programs to address the town’s physical infrastructure.
Newly elected Fair Haven Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli praised Council President Peters on his work in managing Fair Haven’s financial situation. “He did an incredible job,” Lucarelli said. He credited Peters with ensuring that Fair Haven’s municipal taxes will not increase this year.
Peters thanked Mayor Lucarelli, the town council, the Finance Committee, and the citizens who gave him their input. “I think we’re playing World Cup-level finance in this borough at a time when other towns in the state are struggling,” Peters said. “Fair Haven remains one of the most desirable communities in the state.”
A public hearing on Fair Haven’s 2012 budget will take place on May 14 at 7 p.m.