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IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Committeeman Clinton Hoffman

"The ideal situation is for a government to have no surplus" -- Committeeman Clinton Hoffman.

(Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series that lets public officials speak, unedited, about issues that concern Wall. Today, its Committeeman Clinton Hoffman, recorded by Wall Patch at an April 20 Township Committee workshop meeting, espousing his views on surplus in municipal government budgets.)

"Every politician may feel differently, although I think it makes common sense to me, the ideal situation is for a government to have no surplus.

"Surplus is typically generated from unanticipated revenue, which, that’s good. And  over-budget, which is bad. So if you get to true zero-based budgeting, which we’ve made a move to do in this administration for the first time ever, you should begin to reduce and eliminate surplus.

"Plus, if you roll surplus back into an existing budget, it creates an artificial gap between the monies actually being collected to run the government and the cost thereof, because if that surplus goes away, you have a gap.

"So relying on surplus is a bad thing, in my opinion.

"Unfortunately, we inherited a system when we all took office where surplus – and its commonplace in many governments and municipalities – where it was being used for that purpose. Then the economy went bad. And then that’s when the problems with using surplus show up, when the economy goes bad in particular.

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The full audio of Committeeman Hoffman's statement is attached to this story.

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"We’ve been trying to wean ourselves off surplus and we will continue to do so.  I do also believe that if you have surplus and you have enough money to run your government without using it, it should be used to pay down debt or buy one-time capital expense purchases.

"So again, surplus being used in the budget – sometimes it’s a necessity based on history or the period of time or whatever but it’s not ideal. And the ideal situation is to eliminate it and if you can’t eliminate it and you have it, use it to pay down debt or pay off capital expenses.

"That’s my personal philosophy. I know that there are some other folks in government who agree with that. And I think that’s common sense if you understand surplus."

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