Looking to 2012 in Shamong

Steady as she goes is the way Shamong’s mayor sees the coming year.

“I don’t think we’re looking for a whole lot of changes here,” Mayor Jon Shevelew, who has been mayor for seven years, said. “We’re happy to maintain the status quo.”

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The most pressing issue in town is the installation of a new soccer field, which Shevelew hopes will be finished by the spring.

Since the field lies on Pinelands Preservation area, the township has to get approval from the Pinelands Commission to create such a field. They mayor said most projects in town have to go through them.

The soccer field is being funded by grant $275,000 grant from Burlington County.

After that, the budget will be biggest issue, as it is in other many other towns.

Shevelew said Shamong does not have a large ratable base because there is very little commercial development.

“The weight of running the township really falls on our homeowners,” he said, noting that, for about 17 years, there was no local tax in town.

The mayor also said state has cut aid drastically.

The state owns 55 percent of property in the town.

The township was getting $10 per acre from the state, but is now getting only $7 per acre.

“Which is a big hit for us,” Shevelew said. “It makes it very difficult.”

He pointed to the small staff in the township and the age of municipal vehicles as indications of how tight the township’s belt is.

The mayor said Shamong is replacing a 1965 grader (a construction vehicle) with a 1975 model.

“We’re very, very careful about how we spend taxpayer dollars,” he said. “We’re out of room. There’s nothing we can cut.”

Township employees include an administrator, an assistant clerk, a tax collector, a court administrator and three people in public works. There is no clerical staff in the building department.

Shevelew said Shamong always stays under the 2 percent cap, even though it doesn’t apply to the township, because the tax rate is below 10 cents per $100 of assessed value.

He also said he is very happy with the state police patrolling the township, despite being stretched over several municipalities.

There is also a low crime rate.

Shevelew said the township has a “great” volunteer fire company and that the largest portion of the annual budget goes to fire and rescue for maintenance and vehicles.

“I sympathize with the school districts,” Shevelew said. “They’re between a rock and a hard place.”

He said the committee has had to review the school district’s budget line by line.

“We just can’t rubber stamp it,” the mayor said.

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