Toms River Township Tightening Belt on Capital Expenditures
By Mo Hill, Toms River Township Committee
Toms River–The Toms River Capital Budget provides long term financing via bonds to fund equipment and construction projects that have a projected life expectancy of between 10-20 years. The cost is spread over the useful life of the equipment. If the total cost of the equipment or project were paid as part of the annual municipal budget the cost would be prohibitive.
Over the past few years the Township has undertaken numerous capital projects such as the indoor ice rink at Winding River Park, sport turf fields with improved lighting for the youth lacrosse and football leagues, renovation of the Richard Clements Law Enforcement Center and municipal court complex, construction of the new Township animal shelter and the lifeguard house in Ortley Beach and most recently the renovation of the municipal parking garage with new lighting, roof and solar panels and the Girls Softball Complex.
In 2004 the Township embarked on an aggressive road repaving and bulkhead repair program. The Engineering Department prioritized the over 600 miles of Township roads and 450 bulkheads that needed attention.
The Capital budget is generally around $15-20M per year just to meet the minimum requirements of the Township to address the repaving of roads, bulkhead repairs, equipment replacement and construction projects. This year’s capital budget included 3 bond ordinances totaling $13.4M. This represents a 25% decrease from the 2011 capital budget and in addition to the items mentioned above include the purchase of back up generators for the Toms River Police Department Operations Center, Public Works and Town Hall to provide power in emergency situations. Every year the Township retires bonds that supported capital projects in the past. This year the Township will retire almost $8M in bonds.
In these difficult economic times the Toms River Council and administration has reduced the initial capital budget and prioritized projects to meet the needs of the Township while maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars and minimizing the impact on the tax rate.