BY KATHY CHANG
MONROE — As a result of a re-evaluation that was performed two years ago, the open space preservation tax rate has decreased in Monroe.
The Township Council voted in favor of a resolution authorizing the township to reduce the dedicated open space preservation tax rate from 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed value to 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed value during the Feb. 8 council meeting.
“We were told that, since it’s a reduction in the tax rate, we do not have to go to referendum and we could do it by resolution,” Mayor Gerard Tamburro said.
Tamburro said the decrease in the open space preservation tax rate is due to the general increase in ratables in the township. The mayor said the township will continue to move aggressively to preserve open space.
Business Administrator Wayne Hamilton said the current balance of the open space trust fund is $5.7 million as of Dec. 31, 2015. He explained that for revenue on the 2.5-cent tax rate, the trust fund would bring in about $1.784 million.
“If we drop it a penny, it is still going to bring in over $1 million a year,” he said, adding that the dramatic impact on ratables is the incentive to reduce the tax rate.
Hamilton said officials take the open space trust fund and stretch the dollars as best they can.
“What we do is, we have a portion of our debt service payment where we pay down on the properties we’re purchasing and bond for them so the principle and interest payments that would go to that are actually totaling $613,141 a year, but it’s coming from that dedicated trust fund,” he said.
Hamilton said it is also important to note that since 2002, more than $18 million has been expended for open space and farm land preservation. With that, the township was able to purchase 6,600 acres of open space and 1,290 acres of farmland preservation.
Contact Kathy Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org.