Jul 28, 2014
Mostly Cloudy

In Case You Missed it: Gov't 101 with Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds

Resident James McEowen, a member of the Holmdel Republicans, shares his notes on the March 12 lecture.

In Case You Missed it: Gov't 101 with Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds

"Holmdel Government Made Easy" was presented at the Holmdel Senior/Community Center on March 12. About 50 people attended the talk given by Deputy Mayor Eric Hinds, who joined the governing body in 2011. His goal was not so much to tackle current "hot" issues, but give useful information about how Holmdel's government operates.

In attendance were his colleagues on the Township Committee and several members of the Holmdel Board of Education.

In his opening remarks, Hinds said that many folks complain about town government issues, but do not get involved in helping to resolve them. He wants to get people to get involved. "There are a lot of bright people in Holmdel, but we need to harness that intellectual capital better," he said. 

Hinds touched on the following governing bodies and described their role relative to Holmdel.

This is the first form of elected government in Holmdel. 
10 males and 10 females represent each of ten districts in Holmdel - for both the Democrats and the Republicans. 
If residents wish to get involved, they should contact:
Chairperson Marcy McMullen, if they are registered as a Republican. 
Chairperson Tony Orsini, if they are registered as a Democrat. 

The role of each County Committee is to recruit, promote, and work to get Democrats/Republicans elected to the Township Committee. 
They also vote, with other Monmouth County communities, for Freeholders - to fill absences during non-election years.

Not all towns operate in the same manner. In Holmdel there are five members. They serve three year terms. The mayor and deputy mayor are elected by the group .
Their responsibilities are to conduct municipal business by legislation through ordinances or resolutions, approval and adoption of the annual budget, and the formulation of policy to be carried out by the staff. 
They meet twice a month, on Thursdays. The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 p.m 
The members also work in pairs on subcommittees, which includes the Alcatel-Lucent property redevelopment, public works, public safety, planning, finance, etc. 

The current breakdown of the Holmdel property tax bill is 67% schools, 14% county, 2% open space, ~1% library, and 15 % municipal. 
The total municipal budget is $19.5 million ($13 million goes towards salaries and benefits).
There is approximately $77 million total taxes collected per year.  
The Holmdel debt service is about $2 million. 

New Jersey is not putting as much money into pension funds as in previous years. The difference has to be made up by the municipalities.

Liability insurance is held jointly with other towns. 

a $2.5M budget gap was forecast, due to:
- loss of Lucent occupancy
- bad economy, less commercial taxes, light permit activity
- less state aid
- debt service approaching $2 million
- no new revenue sources
- no interest on money in accounts  (2008 - $3.4 million, 2012 - $1.9 million)
- 2012 surplus only $500 million
- real estate valuations $3.8 billion now vs $4.6 billion in 2008
 (net tax value -($2.3 million)

In Holmdel, 88% of our revenue comes from real estate taxes. Deputy Mayor Hinds believes Holmdel needs to raise the valuations throughout Holmdel.

There are four schools: Village, Indian Hill, Satz, High School. 
The 9-member Board of Education is elected by the community to a 3-year term. There is no salary. 
Not too many people attend the twice-monthly meetings of the Board of Education, he said. 
The BOE's primary task is to oversee operations of the schools. The members also selects and employs the Superintendent of Schools and the Schools Business Administrator.  
Due to recent changes, if the budget stays within the 2% tax levy cap, there wil not be a public budget vote. 
The total budget is $56 million. Of that $42 million goes for salaries and benefits.

Board member Mike Sockol, of the group's Budget and Finance Committee, will introduce the school budget on March 14.
Board President Barbara Garrity thinks it is good to have a non-partisan school board.

The town has three unions to negotiate with. Holmdel follows a state mandate for health insurance. (Over the next 4 years, employees will contribute $400K towards their health insurance.)

Speeding tickets - the state gets all the revenue!

Don’t miss updates from Patch!