By Nicole Gough
Middletown, March 21- Mayor Anthony Fiore announced that the township committee will introduce a budget that complies with the 2% property tax cap. He thanked the library board for contributing $500 thousand to the township budget.
Fiore stated on Monday that there would be a budget proposed at the April 4th meeting despite concerns over the extensive paperwork involved in the $500 thousand from the Middletown Library surplus.
Fiore expressed gratitude toward the library board, saying that he was grateful that “reasonable minds came together” in terms of returning 1/2 million dollars of a $1.2 million surplus. Fiore also acknowledged that this type of occurrence is not unique to Middletown. Fiore noted that the township has been under stress in regards to the budget, and the money from the surplus would relieve some of that stress.
“The library still has a good surplus,” he said.
In response to concerns over whether the .5 million would be included in the April 4 budget, Fiore said that papers were already being prepared in order to maintain expediency.
“We will propose a budget on April 4 that will be in full compliance with the 2% property tax cap,” said Fiore.
Committeeman Gerry Scharfenberger urged citizens to support the governor’s toolkits, stating that “they will give us the tools we need to operate more efficiently.”
In response to Scharfenberger, Fiore said the toolkits “make sense for us,” as they “provide mayors like myself the opportunity to do more with our budget.”
Even without the toolkit, Fiore was confident that the budget would move forward.
“We will provide a budget without a toolkit,” he said. “We will move forward, as difficult as it is.”
The Township Committee also addressed concerns regarding the paving project initially included in the library surplus. Because of the returned portion of the surplus, the project would need to be put on hold.
Committeeman Kevin Settembrino, who spoke about parking bundling at a library board meeting, responded, saying the project could continue next year if the board had the money, and “they won’t have to incur interest charges.”
Apart from the library initiative and budget legislation, the meeting also focused on promoting volunteer groups and the Live Where You Work program, which rewards citizens who live and work in Middletown and meet certain income requirements. Committeeman Steve Massell encouraged citizens to advocate the program and inform others whom they thought might qualify.
Fiore commented on the solar initiative, noting that it will be expanded to include both the library and the sewer authority. Fiore said Middletown would not only be the greenest town, but “also the one to generate more bang for buck for our taxpayers.”
Fiore also read a proclamation recognizing March as Developmental Disabilities Month and highlighting the contributions of the Arc of Monmouth.