Cherry Hill laid off 13 workers Tuesday to avoid a property-tax increase in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"No one ever wants to cut staff, but we have a moral obligation to our community not to compound fiscal problems for them," said Dan Keashen, spokesman for Mayor Bernie Platt.

On Monday, the Township Council gave preliminary approval to a fiscal 2010 budget of $61 million, about $1 million less than this year's budget. The layoffs took effect immediately and will save about $800,000, Keashen said.

Cherry Hill sought concessions from its six unions, such as the cost-of-living freezes and furloughs Gov. Corzine requested from state unions, but had no success, Keashen said.

The 13 positions cut were among 340 nonunion jobs in the township. They came from six departments, including construction and community development, where volume is down as much as 50 percent due to economic conditions, Keashen said. No severance was offered.

"When things were good, our operations were struggling to meet demand. As the economy contracted, we have to adjust as well," he said.

To help balance the fiscal 2009 budget, Cherry Hill laid off five workers, reduced salaries of elected officials and the business administrator; and charged nonunion workers for part of their health-care coverage. About $200,000 was saved by using a new recycling program and $30,000 by consolidating township publications.

But to cover cuts in state aid and increases in health benefits, utilities, and contractual obligations, the township raised taxes about 17 percent, angering many residents.

Fiscal 2010's municipal tax bill on homes assessed at the township average of $140,000 would be about $1,200.