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2013 Budget Gap to Again be Discussed by Council

Needing to cut about $1 million from the 2013 municipal budget in order to stay below the state's 2 percent tax cap, Lawrence Township officials will continue to talk about the township's financial woes at the next council meeting tonight, Sept. 4.

The discussion about Lawrence Township’s 2013 municipal budget problems will resume tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 4, when , beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building.

At the last meeting on Aug. 21 Township Manager Richard Krawczun spent close to an hour presenting an overview of 2012 municipal budget revenues, appropriations and expenditures and answering subsequent questions from council members. He spoke about the services that the township is legally obligated to provide and those service that are discretionary.

(Full audio of Krawczun’s presentation can be heard in the Part 2 and Part 3 meeting files in the media box to the right. Also available is a PDF file containing all the slides Krawczun used in his presentation.)

Toward the end of his PowerPoint presentation, using revenue and expense figures projected for 2013, Krawczun focused on the municipal ambulance service and the township’s recreation department.

The ambulance service, according to Krawczun’s projection, could end up costing the township over $400,000 to operate in 2013. But it was noted that the amount used in the projection for ambulance revue – the amount collected by billing patients’ insurance companies – is from 2011 and could possibly be greater in 2013, thus offsetting additional operating expenses.

As for the recreation department, the projected cost to fund all recreational programs, senior citizens’ services and special events in 2013 was nearly $315,000. Eliminating all recreational programs but maintaining services for seniors and limited funding for special events like the Memorial Day parade would, according to Krawczun’s presentation, save the township only $60,000 because previously-collected revue generated by program participation fees and field rentals would be lost.

Krawczun noted that the township needs to cut between $950,000 and $1 million from its 2013 budget in order to stay below the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap. And time to make decisions about how to do that is running short, he noted.

“I just want to once again reiterate that the clock is very important,” he told council members. “The calendar clock is very important for some of these decisions going forward.”

Krawczun also stressed to council that the two options he presented during were just that – options – not recommendations.

“What I spoke about last time, they were two options. That’s not to say they were the only options. We’re going through this systematically,” he said.

Those two options were the laying off of nine additional municipal employees during 2013, including four police officers; or the complete elimination of municipal government involvement in garbage collection in favor of a system whereby residents would be responsible for securing their own individual trash haulers.

Before Krawczun began his presentation, several township residents spoke during the public participation segment of the meeting to voice their opposition to both future layoffs and privatization of trash collection. (Meeting Audio Part 1).

“I try to attend town council meetings on a regular basis and while I often feel compelled to comment on various issues I feel none more strongly than when I hear about layoffs of police and emergency personnel,” said Barbara Nester of Adele Court. “I was married to a Lawrence Township police officer for 20 years. He was also a volunteer firefighter. So I have seen this from the other side. While I don’t know for certain, perhaps many council members have not seen it from the other side. If you have ever truly feared for your life, been home late at night when someone was breaking into your home, been in a building that caught fire, or laid bleeding on the floor and had to call for an ambulance, you would not even remotely consider laying off any emergency personnel.

“I’ve heard the council say they tried to be fair and apply layoffs to all departments. While I don’t want to see anyone lose their job, police, fire and ambulance services clearly cannot be compared to any other positions. I’ve always been proud to live in Lawrence Township. Now I’m actually fearful and even somewhat embarrassed to live in a town that makes this type of decision. The welfare and safety of Lawrence’s residents must be our first priority. There has to be another way to make this budget work. Please, try to find another way. Thank you,” she said.

Northbrook Avenue resident Jody Furch agreed, saying, “My feeling is the primary duty of government is to protect its citizens. It trumps recreation. It even trumps education. It trumps some of your compensation. What we have to do is recognize the policemen and the firemen are on the front lines of that duty. What we have today is crime is rising. We’ve seen it now with the economic conditions. So we need our police force now more than ever….”

Pin Oak Drive resident Allen Cohen, meanwhile, said he believes the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap is “too generous” in that it allows for too many exemptions. “When I hear whining about the cap, I hear a town council that cannot manage the fiscal affairs of this town and a town council that looks to find blame instead of finding solutions,” he said.

With respect to trash collection being privatized, Cohen cautioned council members, “Just don’t go there. I’m going to appeal to the politician in you people, which I think will resonate with you. I’m not here to waste time and say a lot of words. I’m not going to talk to you about what’s good for Lawrence Township. What I’m going to tell you is, if you take trash collection out of the budget you’re going to hand the Republican party in this town – as dysfunctional as it is – a campaign issue that they can win on, which is trash collection as part of the budget.”

 

For Municipal Budget Background, See:

  • Aug. 29: “”
  • Aug. 27: “”
  • Aug. 23: “”
  • Aug. 23: “”
  • Aug. 20: “”
  • Aug. 2: “”
  • July 20: “”
  • July 18: “”
  • June 21: “”
  • June 11: “”
  • May 24: ""
  • May 24: ""
  • May 18: “”
  • May 16: “”
  • May 14: “”
  • May 2: “”
  • May 2: “”
  • April 25: “”
  • April 20: “”
  • April 20: “”
  • April 18: ""
  • April 16: “”
  • April 16: “”
  • April 13: “”
  • April 12: “”
  • April 11: “”
  • April 10: ""
  • April 2: ""
  • March 28: “”
  • March 26: “”
  • March 26: “
  • March 20: “”
  • March 14: “”
  • March 8: “”
  • Feb. 23: “”
  • Feb. 9: “”
  • Jan. 18: “”

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Chief Wahoo September 04, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Wow what a bunch of scared sheep !!!.....how about asking the police union why they overpriced themselves out of their jobs at the expense of the publics safety.....GREED
SHSB September 04, 2012 at 04:53 PM
"As for the recreation department, the projected cost to fund all recreational programs, senior citizens’ services and special events in 2013 was nearly $315,000. Eliminating all recreational programs but maintaining services for seniors and limited funding for special events like the Memorial Day parade would, according to Krawczun’s presentation, save the township only $60,000 .." Again, why are the seniors such a protected class?? Eliminate their recreation programs along with everyone else's and save $315,000!!!! Why should we keep theirs, to the tune of about $255,000, and eliminate everyone else's?? Cut it all!!
dog and pony show September 04, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Same story differnt day. Layoffs, cut rec department and now let's throw in the loss of ambulance service if you don't allow garbage to be cut out of the municipal service. Council shoots down the garbage option during the dog and pony show and this suddenly become the communities fault again. Your choice as a taxpayer? Allow the township to Cut out garbage from municipal service and allow the township to keep the money they already collected from each taxpayer. Then pay more for your trash collection while the town keeps collecting your money for the garbage collection they should be providing. OR. Abolish the police and have no ambulance service to help you and your family. Oh and have no rec programs for your kids. When will the taxpayers wake up and vote everybody on this council out and insist Krawczun leave. Property values are going to soar in a few years........NOT
Blueline September 04, 2012 at 08:33 PM
They protect the seniors recreation because they are the highest voting population. The problem is if they cut out the ambulance and allow a private company to come in, guess who will be hit the hardest - you got it, the seniors. I truly hope they understand that a private company DOES NOT JUST ACCEPT WHAT YOUR INSURANCE PAYS THEM. In other words, when your insurance only pays $200 of a $700 bill, guess where the rest comes from. And they WILL GO AFTER YOU FOR THE BALANCE. So for all those folks that use the ambulance for their taxi to the hospital, get ready to pay. The fact is, the ambulance service is a cash cow that DOES generate revenue beyond its cost to the township. The only problem is that the person doing the billing isn't keeping up properly. Additionally, RK will not heed the suggestions that they could be generating money left and right by doing transport service as well as billing Medi-care for the FREE rides to the doctor or wherever, that they are doing right now. There are options out there, RK just doesn't want to hear them. Who would've thought.
SHSB September 05, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I used to work for a paid ambulance company. You are 100% correct about their billing practices. And as someone who has worked for 2 different paid ambulance services over the years, I would never recommend them to answer 911 calls. Paid companies are great for transport services, but not so much for 911. On any given day I could be put in Elizabeth, Newark, or be local. I never was in one area long enough to get to know the area, and if I got an emergency call, I usuallyu had to stop and look up the address. With dedicated EMS personnel, you don't have that problem. With a paid service, you also don't have any control over the quality of care that residents receive, whereas with dedicated EMS personnel, the Town can screen applicants and select only those that meet any set of given quality critera. I understand that they are concerned about the senior votes, but you can't tell me that seniors outnumber everyone else in this township. The rest of the voters need to get out and outvote the seniors and remove the current adminstration.

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