By Andrew Martins
ALLENTOWN – The Borough Council has introduced a $2.36 million budget for 2016 that essentially holds municipal taxes flat this year. The budget will be supported by the collection of $1.52 million in property taxes from Allentown’s residential and commercial property owners, according to information provided by borough officials.
Allentown’s 2015 budget totaled $2.26 million and was supported in part by the collection of $1.52 million in local taxes.
Touting the generally flat budget as a “success” for the borough, Mayor Gregory Westfall said he and the council members worked with department heads and Chief Financial Officer June Madden to contain costs.
“This budget is a product of the entire governing body,” Westfall said. “We are trying to hold the line on our expenses and certainly trying to stay under the 2 percent tax levy cap. We are trying to prevent a property tax increase, at least at the municipal level.”
Officials are proposing to use $302,000 in surplus funds (savings) as revenue in the 2016 budget. The 2015 municipal budget used $230,000 from surplus. The spending plan shows Allentown will receive $131,595 in state aid in 2016, the same amount the state sent the borough in 2015.
According to the budget, the municipal tax rate for 2016 will remain stable at 79.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, the same tax rate as in 2015.
In 2015, the average home in Allentown was assessed at $289,233 and the owner of that home paid $2,302 in municipal taxes. In 2016, the average home is assessed at $288,582 and the owner of that home will pay $2,296 in municipal taxes – a decrease of $6, according to information provided by borough officials.
The municipal tax rate will have a different impact on each property owner depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property.
Municipal taxes are one component of a property owner’s total tax bill. Allentown property owners also pay Upper Freehold Regional School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes and other assessments.
After the recent completion of contract negotiations with the Allentown Police Department, police salaries are expected to increase by 1.5 percent each year until 2017, according to the mayor.
According to the budget, police salaries will increase from $420,400 in 2015 to $483,500 in 2016. Police operations will increase from $34,353 in 2015 to $45,353 in 2016.
Included in the budget are the spending plans for Allentown’s water and sewer utilities, which will have appropriations estimated at $654,300 and $880,121, respectively.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. April 12 in the municipal building, 8 N. Main St.