Proposed Town Budget Poses About $50 Tax Hike
Administrator said township's expenses for hurricane and October storm mostly to blame for increase.
The budget was introduced April 10 and a public hearing will be held on it on May 8 at 8 p.m. at the Montville Township Municipal Building before its adoption.
The proposed budget calls for $28,552,951 in appropriations and an anticipated $28,552,951 in revenue, however, Canning said the township had to spend $143,460 on efforts during and after the storm that followed Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm Canning referred to as "Snowtober."
"We will get reimbursed from (the Federal Emergency Management Agency)," Canning said, however, since the township is not sure when, the cost has impacted the proposed municipal budget. The township can seek reimbursement from FEMA for overtime hours of public safety and Department of Public Works officials, some equipment, supplies and materials.
Something else that has had an effect on the budget, Canning said, are "an excessive amount of tax appeals." Tax appeals are filed when residents or business owners disagree with the taxes they are asked to pay based on the assessments of their homes or businesses.
Canning noted some positive initiatives the township has undertaken to attempt to keep the budget increase low.
"We're doing lots of things that I don't think (Montville Township Committee members) get credit for," he said.
Canning said the township has not had to lay off employees because they have done so well with attrition. According to the final 2011 budget, the township had 106 full-time employees whereas the proposed 2012 budget includes 96 full-time employees.
The township has also privatized grass-cutting as a way to save money that would otherwise be spent on an employee to complete the service.
"This is working out for the taxpayers of Montville," he said.
The township has used good financial practices, Canning said, which have helped the township achieve an AAA bond rating from Moody's. For the past several years, the township has been working to pay down debt, he said.
"Financially, it's a great accomplishment because there's very few communities in New Jersey that have that financial stability," he said.
The high rating could help the township when it needs to borrow money for projects, although Canning said there is some room in the proposed 2012 budget for capital projects, such as road repairs.
At the meeting where the budget was introduced, committee members discussed whether to budget for the hiring of three or four police officers. Canning said the committee members ultimately decided to budget for four, although the committee is still waiting to receive results from a study of the police department.
"In the end, public safety is paramount to them," he said.
Canning, who is a new employee to the township, said the bulk of the credit for crafting the budget belongs to Interim Township Administrator Adam Brewer and other township employees who had spent a great deal of time on the budget before he arrived.