The truth about runaway spending in Hamilton Township
I cringe when I hear the republicans who run Hamilton Township municipal government say that they have held the line on spending. They have said it so many times that they may actually believe themselves. Well, the claims are just not true.
When you ask about spending you will be told a story about spending since 2010. If you stop there then you can believe the republican’s. Wait, though! Look a little further, please. As an all republican council and Mayor, they have been passing budgets since 2008. Why don’t they talk about the differences in spending from those budgets?
Here is the whole story all of the way back to 2007.
In 2007, Hamilton Township’s budget was $80 million. In 2012, we have a proposed budget of $98 million. That’s $18 million in additional spending! $18 million per year! The republicans elected and hired to run Hamilton will tell you that costs have gone up so of course spending has gone up. They will tell you that it is inflation. They may say that we have contractual wage increases and health and other insurances are constantly rising. They are right, costs have gone up – just not $18 million.
Here is how Hamilton’s spending looks over 5 years. I took 6 budgets and compiled each into Retirement Benefits, Wages, Discretionary (referred to as “Other” in the actual budgets), Insurance, Other or Misc, and Library. Combined, these areas represent $14 million (78%) of the $18 million of increased spending for 2012 over 2008.
What we see is that Retirement contributions have nudged up $1.8 million; General and other Insurance costs have increased $2.9 million and nominal increases in these other categories. These costs are difficult to control as some are dictated by employment contract or a contract with a vendor.
But, since 2008, discretionary spending has gone up $8.75 million. Holy Cow! This $8.75 million INCREASE is 50% of the the total $18 million of increased spending.
Just to be absolutely clear, discretionary expenditure is another term for discretionary cost, which is a cost that can either be cut back or cut out completely in order to save money. There are limits to what can be cut such as toilet paper (not to put too fine a point on it). To add more clarity, discretionary expenditures are separate from utilities, postage, fuel, wages, benefits, insurance…. Also much discretionary spending is necessary because it pays for the pens, paper, and other critical items necessary to run a business and a government.
Do you or does anyone believe that the Township’s discretionary costs have risen through necessity? I don’t. So, I looked at another New Jersey municipality similar in geographic size (52,884 sq mi), population (2009 91,239 people) and budget (2012 $100.681 million) – Tom’s River’s. Hamilton is 40,837 sq mi. a 2010 population of 88,464 and a proposed 2012 budget of $98 million.
|Added Spending||$ 535,317.95|
As we can see, a similar sized community has only inceased discretionary spending by $535,317.95 over 2008. Additionally, their discretionary spending is only a third of Hamilton’s.
The republicans have not controlled spending. In fact, they have allowed it to go out of control. $8.75 million out of control.
While other communities reduce costs Hamilton’s republicans have chosen to offer token spending cuts and blamed the State of NJ for their next tax hike.
Instead of cutting expenses in discretionary areas the Mayor would prefer to propose and council would prefer to consider $25,681,818 in discretionary spending and levy a $1 million tax increase.