Toms River To Vote On Fire Commissioners, Budget

Fire trucks were put out on display in front of the public hearing on whether to build a new fire station in downtown Toms River. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

TOMS RIVER – Budget questions and commissioners for the two township fire districts will be on the ballot.

The polls will be open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Feb. 17.

  District 1

In Fire District No. 1, there are two people running for one seat: incumbent Raymond Latshaw and Warren Chabot.

There are three questions on the ballot.

Question No. 1 is about the district’s budget for the year. The amount to be raised by taxation would be $5,497,530, an increase of $182,680 from last year’s $5,314,850.

The tax rate would increase from 6.4 cents to 6.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The total budget would be $9,032,603, an increase of $952,729 from last year’s $8,079,874. However, about $700,000 of this increase was actually unspent capital raised in 2017, that is being rolled over and will have no effect on the taxes, said administrator Brian Kubiel.

Question No. 2 is whether the district can spend $450,000 on replacement fire apparatus. This continues a replacement program where the district can make purchases when needed throughout the year, he said.

As items get older, they become unreliable or too expensive to maintain, and must be replaced. According to district documents, the amount is estimated every year based on what the expected needs are. Setting aside money prevents the district from having to borrow money to make purchases.

Question No. 3 authorizes the district to appropriate $55,040 for their portion of $86,000 for vehicles for the bureau of fire prevention.

District 2

In District 2, there are two seats available for three years each. The candidates are Craig Bierbaum, Robert J. Blank, Jr., Brian J. Geoghegan, and Nicholas Infantolino. Blank and Geoghegan are incumbents.

There are four questions on the ballot.

Question No. 1 would authorize the district to expend $3,570,693, with $3,070,008 being raised by taxes. This is the overall budget.

Administrator Darlene Gargano said that last year’s amount to be raised in taxation was $3,228,221, and the total budget was $4,603,451. The amounts went down this year because there will be less to purchase this year.

The 2017 tax rate was 7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, Gargano said. It would go down to 6 cents.

Question No. 2 authorizes the district to buy a fire police vehicle in 2019, in an amount not to exceed $75,000.

Question No. 3 authorizes the district to upgrade the Opti-Com system in 2019, in an amount not to exceed $155,786. This is a radio frequency upgrade that has to do with the devices mounted on emergency vehicles that can cause traffic lights to turn green when they are approaching an intersection. The township already bonded for its share to outfit their vehicles, such as the police emergency medical squad.

Question No. 4 is similar to Question No. 3 in District 1. It allows the district to contribute $30,960 to the total purchase of $86,000 for the Fire Prevention Bureau vehicles.