Red Bank commissioners are calling tax hikes in this year's budget "unavoidable" as they try to generate enough money to pay for extensive paving projects and a new system for collecting garbage fees.
Commissioners passed a first reading of the $4.9 million budget, which calls for a 25 cent property tax increase, and a $4 monthly garbage fee increase. The budget also includes a 2 percent across-the-board pay raise for all city employees.
The lone holdout against the increases was Commissioner Floy Pierce, who acknowledged the city's secondary roads needed major overhaul, but said "We can still pave roads and not go up on taxes."
But the other commissioners insist the city can't afford not to bring in more tax revenue.
"Our roads need to be paved, and this is the only way we can pave them," said Commissioner Ruth Jeno. "People aren't happy about a tax increase - they never are. But they're happy the streets are going to get paved."
The additional revenue will also go towards reinstating a full-time codes officer, which the city cut last year, and restoring leaf vacuum service - a service many residents have wanted to see returned.
"I want to thank you if you do all this," resident Missy Smith said about the tax increase paying for paving projects and better codes enforcement. "We need to beautify Red Bank, to bring it back to where it was during its glory days."