The Byram council agreed to hire a financial advisor to help the township manage its debt.
On Oct. 5, the council voted 4-1 in favor of paying Phoenix Advisers $2,500 to guide the township. Councilman Harvey Roseff voted against the measure.
Reviewing capital expenditures, Deputy Mayor Raymond Bonker said the township has many needs. For the new municipal building project, the council will first receive the final construction documents, then put the project out to bid, and finally bond for the money needed to pay for it.
He said the township has other capital needs, including the ten-year project plan for CO Johnson Park, possible fire truck purchases, road work, and Department of Public Works equipment. Bonker said one of its ten-year bonds is set to expire in 2025.
The township has American Rescue Plan money to help pay for some of its needs.
In light of all those things, Bonker said, Byram needs a comprehensive debt management plan to guide the township through its capital expenditures over many years.
“Interest rates aren’t going any lower,” he said. “They have started to rise.”
Bonker said the township needs to lock in as soon as possible and manage its debt so that property owners do not see a significant increase in their tax bills.
If the township proceeds with the comprehensive debt management plan, he said, the $2,500 will be fully credited against any bond fees. Nearby communities, like Vernon Township and Mountain Lakes, have used the Phoenix Group and their auditor and bond council, he said.
Roseff said he does not believe in financial engineering and does not want Byram to go down the “wrong path.” Furthermore, he said, Vernon has real problems with “some bad deals,” which he blamed on professional oversight.
Mayor Alexander Rubenstein said Phoenix Advisers will give a very clear picture of the bond structure, and how it will affect taxpayers for the entire life of the debt. Also, he said, the model will help guide the township in the future.