The Sicklerville Sun spoke to the two Gloucester Township citizens that ironed out a proposed 2020 budget that would decrease the Township’s tax increase from 10.5% to 3.8% in an effort to get a handle on the township’s spending. The proposed Citizen’s Budget was dismissed by Mr. Cardis and council as was the proposal to let the two members sit in on the budget subcommittee.
You can find the article from the Sicklerville Sun HERE
Sam Sweet, an accountant in Gloucester Township who attends council meeting regularly and was involved in the creation of the Citizen’s Budget just wrote this letter to council.
Dear Council Vice President Trotto;
We have recently read the Sicklerville Sun Article regarding the Citizens Budget and the comments made by Township Administrator, Tom Cardis. We respectfully request that you truly consider where those comments are coming from and act accordingly. Those comments are coming from a separate branch of local government (administrative) which prepared the budget that you are voting on. Of course he is going to discount our budget since we are calling into question his work. Quite frankly his comments are simply untrue.
The budget presented to Council for approval increases the tax levy by approximately $5 million. To breakdown our budget, we are increasing expected revenue by $1.5 million and reducing expected expenditures by $1.7 million. That means according to our budget we have reduced the tax levy by $3.2 million.
To break down revenue further, we increased revenue from Tax Abatements from a $2 million budgeted amount to the actual amount of $2,584,503. That number was obtained directly from the tax assessor’s office. In fact, that number is always known pre budget, yet Mr. Cardis insists on providing a much lower budgeted amount. We also increased receipts on delinquent taxes and additional tax collections by $600,000 based on the history of those amounts for the past 5 years. Those three simple changes increase budgeted revenue by $1.1 million. Mr. Cardis states, “They were maximizing every revenue, which is not prudent.” If Mr. Cardis actually took the time to look at our budget he would notice that we actually reduced several items (Pool Fees, Rec Fees, Construction Fees) due to COVID-19. The question I ask Council is why didn’t Mr. Cardis? We are 5 months into 2020.
With regards to expenses Mr. Cardis states, “They cut whatever they wanted to cut, they used a run rate. They looked at whatever was appropriated in last year’s budget and if that much wasn’t spent, they cut that item.” Again, that is simply untrue. Perhaps if Mr. Cardis had reached out to us, we could have explained that to him. Or even better, he could explain the following budgeted items more clearly:
- Gasoline: budgeted $480,000 but yet the past 2 years the average was $472,460. But more importantly gas prices have been reduced by 20% this year.
- Community Development: budgeted $35,900, but the past two years has averaged $8,000.
- Snow plowing contracted: budgeted $200,000, last year the cost was $38,800, but more importantly we are in May and have ZERO snow thus far.
- Tax Assess Professional Fees: budgeted $100,000. However the average the past 5 years is about $15,000, not including 2019 of $148,923, but that year directly relates to the Blau and Blau tax appeals which doesn’t happen every year. In fact that year one of the apartment complexes decided to fight their tax assessment and took it all the way through the court process.
- Matching Social Security: Budgeted $2,200,000. Social Security is an exact calculation of 7.65% of salary. This calculation is incorrect and off by approximately $100,000.
These are just a few examples (there are plenty of others) of the cuts that we made to the budget. This refutes Mr. Cardis’ statement above that we cut whatever we wanted to cut. Additionally he further states, “What about the items that we budgeted for individually and the township exceeded?” I will state again that if he actually took the time to review our budget we did take the time to look at that as well.
At the May 27, 2020 Council meeting Mr. Cardis refers to the presented budget as: “It is a responsible budget that promotes the public welfare, safety, and health.” Can Council please explain to me how raising taxes 10.5%, during a pandemic, where residents have lost their jobs and are struggling, promotes the public welfare? I think that Mr. Cardis and the Mayor’s office is out of touch with reality, not only based on an increase in taxes, but also the comments disregarding the GT Citizens Budget.
With all that being said, I will again respectfully request that you not only review our budget, but also allow the residents of GT to be a part of the budget subcommittee meeting.
We also implore to you disregard Mr. Cardis’ comments because not only are they untrue, but they are the rantings of an incompetent township administrator who doesn’t care about best interests of the township residents.