One day after Bridgwater Township employees were warned of possible layoffs to close a projected budget gap, Manville announced its own hiring freeze, and intends to look very closely before filling vacant positions.
The plight of these two towns is similar, and is shared by many Central Jersey municipalities - rising costs and tough economic times are causing shortfalls in budgets. Where the stories differ is that, according to newspaper reports, Bridgewater is concerned that the state mandated cap on property tax increases - currently 4% - does not allow the township to increase taxes enough to cover costs. Manville, on the other hand, is asking all of its departments to slash their budgets by 5% - a move that will allow the boro to keep current employees in their jobs.
My personal opinion is that the 4% cap should not be seen by municipalities as a burden that they wish would go away, but rather as a tool to promote careful planning and efficiency.