Currently, the township has one volunteer fire company. It responds to all calls, including reports of fire, smoke, hazardous materials releases, carbon monoxide, motor vehicle accidents with serious injuries, and more, the report claims. It answers to about 400 calls for service each year. There are about 525 veterans in town and 22.1 percent of residents are foreign-born. There are 5,516 housing units, with the median value of owner-occupied housing units being $652,100. The median gross rent is $2,045. The Breakdown Additionally, looking back on 2019, the Holmdel Police Department’s calls for service were above 25,000 for the fourth consecutive year. Motor vehicle stops, “a proven crime deterrent,” the department said, were also high and officers have remained “vigilant and proactive” to address increases in vehicle thefts and burglaries. Accidents have increased by less than 2 percent, mostly resulting from increased traffic, the report continued. There are 11 major line items in the police department’s budget requests for 2020, with goals to increase public engagement and public information, hire a new officer due to an anticipated retirement, purchase five vehicles and trailers, finalize a radio project and implement E-Ticketing and body cameras. Unanimously approved on introduction that night, the public hearing and adoption is now set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9. The proposed township tax rate is $0.340, a zero percent increase from 2019. According to the township, the average homeowner in Holmdel will pay $2,334 in municipal taxes, based on the average home valuation of $686,578. “I am very proud of this because we delivered this in unprecedented areas that we’re dealing with, uncharted territories,” said Mayor Greg Buontempo. “This was a concern since we started out, in this pandemic, being able to deliver to Holmdel residents the same quality of service, not cutting anything from the budget.” As introduced, appropriations for the budget are broken down as 40.8 percent for salaries; statutory expenditures at 10.95 percent; 2020 capital at 0.4 percent; debt service, 13.07 percent; and uncollected taxes, 5.4 percent; The remaining 29.38 percent goes to other expenses, including over $1.3 million in outside contracts. The COVID-19 pandemic will also have an impact on the township’s revenues, and officials anticipate that. According to the budget presentation, the proposal reduces projected revenues from uniform fire safety inspections from $25,000 to $16,000, court fees from $525,000 to $250,000 as well as payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) revenues by approximately 35 percent from the amount in 2019. The anticipated uniform construction fees remain the same as 2019, however, though the township anticipates collecting 18 percent more than last year. Public Safety “The Fire Department requires an increase in funding to ensure apparatus, personal protective equipment, recruitment services and maintenance needs are all met,” the report states. Demographics By Allison Perrine According to the township, the salary and wage obligation will increase overall by $9,385 over last year. Police and fire retirement systems will also increase by about $125,000. And the municipal debt service obligations will increase by nearly $810,753 in the current fund and Open Space Trust Fund. About 53.6 percent are female. About 75.3 percent are white alone and 1.20 percent are black or African American alone. About 19.70 percent are Asian alone, according to the presentation. Its goals for 2020 are to find more volunteers, increase training, find more office space and better accommodations for its operations and to increase funding. Members propose a $136,660 fire department budget with two major line items – salaries and operating expenses. Buontempo said that the township incurred “expenses that were never anticipated” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To come up with a flat tax rate,” at the same time, he said, showed that the Holmdel team did an “outstanding” job with this budget. HOLMDEL – The township committee introduced a $25 million 2020 municipal budget May 26, after a public presentation about the township’s tax rates, debt service, demographics and much more. Holmdel Township has an estimated population of 16,668, according to the most recent U.S. Census data from 2010. That is expected to increase in 2020. About 3.8 percent of the population is anticipated to be children under 5 years old, 22.6 percent under 18 and 22 percent individuals over the age of 65. “While we have not seen a significant decrease in revenues as a result of COVID-19, we kept this number flat in an effort to be conservative,” according to the presentation. The township broke down its departments through the presentation, highlighting accomplishments, savings and future goals for each. One of those included the department of public safety, a topic of conversation in Holmdel lately as the township prepares plans for a new fire department. On the other hand, fewer summonses were issued last year, “which tells us that they continue to use discretion and are issuing ‘warnings’ to violators when warranted,” the report claims. Arrests were down 10 percent. The 2020 budget proposes a 2.76 percent increase over last year, bringing the total to $25,084,009. Of that total, $19.8 million is within the cap and $5.1 million is outside of the cap. The article originally appeared in the June 4 – 10, 2020 print edition of The Two River Times.