TOMS RIVER-Last week, Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill introduced a 7% increase to the township’s annual budget. That meeting didn’t count because it violated New Jersey’s Sunshine Laws after the live video feed failed and the public was prevented from entering the meeting in person.
7 Days later, Hill re-introduced the same budget, but added an additional $800,000 in a line item of the budget to pay for expenses related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
We asked Toms River Business Administrator to clarify the line items in that new expense.
“We’re in unchartered waters here,” Guardian said. “$800,000 has been allocated towards anticipated overtime costs for emergency personnel due to necessary demands from COVID-19 along with our own personnel becoming ill and their shifts needing to be covered.”
Guardian said funding has also been allocated towards extra equipment our EMT services and what other first responders may need as a result.
“At this time it is unknown how long this crisis will continue for therefore it is impossible to know the total savings a furlough can provide because we simply don’t know how long employees would be furloughed,” Guardian said. “We can’t simply lay off all our work force since there are essential services – trash, recycling, police, EMT, senior transportation, payroll, finance that continue. We did lay off seasonal and part time.”
Guardian said no public layoffs or furloughs are planned at this time.
“We realize that a massive lay off will also negatively affect the economy and waiting to see what the federal stimulus offers for public employees. We’ll be drilling down on additional non-essential personnel. We are also looking at furloughs,” he said. “Unfortunately if employees simply use their PTO time, there is no direct savings for the township. The question for us is also how long the current situation lasts and what will be the norm once it’s over. If we peak in the next two to three weeks and resume operations by end of May, I think we’ll weather the storm provided the summer season is good.”