At the last town meeting, the Toms River Council voted on an ordinance to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limits and to establish a cap bank. This does not mean that Toms River has raised its budget.
So, what does it mean?
State law allows for a standard 2.5% budget increase cap. However, recognizing that there are financial forces that can mandate greater increases, a municipality may vote to exceed the state cap and go up to 3.5% if needed. This has to be done by passing an ordinance allowing it.
Toms River voted and approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow them the flexibility to do this if needed. Whether or not it is in fact needed will only be determined when the township compiles, and the council votes on, the actual budget.
With 7% inflation and a volatile economy, the council obviously felt that having the flexibility to adjust to a higher increase was necessary. Scenarios where this may become needed include significant rises in cost of fuel, healthcare or other contractually mandated salary increases. The ordinance passed with the approval of all council members, except for Mr. Daniel Roderick of Ward 2 who voted no. It will come before the council again for a second reading in the future.