$58 average assessed tax hike proposed in Monroe Twp. budget

Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | Apr 21, 2018 | MonroeNow

The Monroe Township governing body has proposed its $58.8 million budget that uses approximately $18 million of surplus and other non-tax revenue streams to offset the impact on property owners.

If approved, a municipal property tax bill would increase $58 based on the average assessed $315,000 home value, which equates to approximately a $1,500 tax payment in 2018 not including the school district, county government and local fire district budgets.

In total, the tax levy covers $39.1 million of operational expenses for 2018, including $2.9 million in funding for the Monroe Township Library. Though, the tax levy is 5.8 percent more in 2018, additional rateables have kept that tax rate increase below 1 percent. For every $100 of assessed value a property owner would pay 47 cents.

Even though the tax levy increase is 5.8 percent, it is below the state 2-percent cap because of exemptions that fall outside the rule.

The other revenue sources come from municipal fees, such as recreation and permits and state aid. The surplus is excess money the municipality has accumulated through various sources, such as unspent funds, or new rateables that were not eligible for use in the current budget. Coming into 2018, the surplus account had $13.2 million. The $8.1 used in the 2018 budget is expected to be regenerated over the course of the year, said Township Administrator Alan Weinberg.

“You structure your budget to regenerate the surplus that you’re going to use,” said George Lang, the township chief financial officer. “You keep the tax rate stable so you don’t have giant increases or decreases. We’re conservative on the revenue side, we’ve got an excellent tax collection percentage, all of those factors help you generate surplus and even though we used $7.5 million last year, we regenerated that money.” At the start of the 2017, the township had $13.1 million in its surplus account. As noted by the CFO, the governing body use $7.5 million in the 2017 budget, bringing the surplus account down to $5.8 million. By the start of 2018, the account was more than $13 million.

On the expense side, the township council has earmarked funding to provide employees a 2.5 percent raise to help them cover the cost of the state law that will require them this year to pay 35 percent of their health insurance. The mandate has been phased in during a four-year period.

“As a result [of the state law], many of our employees have been taking home less money year-over-year for the past four years,” said Mayor Gerald Tamburro during the budget introduction on April 9.

The township also included $450,000 that would pay for armed off-duty police officers to patrol the district’s schools into the spring. During that time, it is expected the Board of Education will have a policy in place to provide and pay for its own in-house security team to carry firearms.

The township also plans to hire an additional two police officers and fill an open position within the Police Department. In his address, the mayor said “we will not be hiring any new, full-time employees going forward in 2018, except to replace those who retire or leave.”

Barring any significant changes in the 2018 proposed municipal budget, the public hearing and vote is scheduled for May 7 at 7 p.m. The public hearing is the chance for community members to make comments to the council and administration about the spending plan. The full budget is available on the township website under the departments/administration tab, along with adopted budgets dating back to 2010.