Municipal tax rate up $40 in North Brunswick

By JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

NORTH BRUNSWICK — The Township Council adopted its Fiscal Year 2017 budget on Sept. 6, which carries a $40 increase on the average assessed home.

The $45.85 million budget carries a 2 percent increase on the calendar year tax rate, or an increase of about $39.49 per year on the average assessed home of $157,080, according to Assistant Business Administrator Justine Progebin.

The fiscal year 2017 tax levy is $30 million, about $1 million higher than the 2016 levy.

The 2015 tax rate of $1.177 per $100 of assessed value increased .025 to a tax rate of $1.202 for 2016 on the average assessed home, she said.

The highlights of the previous year’s 2016 budget included a snow trust reserve; an increase in the tax appeal reserve; no expenditures on any line item; a reduction of $572,000 in debt from the prior year; a AA+ debt rating from Standard & Poor’s; the denial of tax appeals for the third year in a row; and a $4.9 million increase in the ratable base, Progebin said during the public budget presentation.

The township also settled its affordable housing obligations through 2025; approved development for the MainStreetNB transit village project; increased its police manpower from 79 to 82 officers; purchased an all-terrain vehicle for the police department as well as a brine operating unit for the Department of Public Works; worked on sewer projects at Edlys Lane and Six Mile Run; and completed soil remediation at Veterans Park, Progebin said.

For 2017, surplus and revenue are up, state aid is flat, but grants are down. Progebin said it is a “matter of timing” because grants are not awarded at the time North Brunswick presents its budget numbers, accounting for the fact that grant numbers have decreased from $1.66 million to just $119,000. She said she expects those numbers to “repopulate.”

In addition, several areas of appropriations have increased, specifically salaries and health insurance. With the hiring of two new police officers, a new building and grounds employee and a grounds maintenance worker, salaries have increased by 4 percent and health insurance costs are up 10 percent.

Utilities are a “good news story,” according to Progebin.

“A lot of the projects we’ve had for energy savings have come to fruition, and utilities are slightly down over the prior year,” she said.

Debt service and capital improvement funds are down as well.

Looking toward 2017, Progebin discussed different departmental ventures, such as accreditation for the police department as well as the exploration of body cameras and drones; the renovation of Babbage Park and an increase of transportation funds for the Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services; stabilizing the farmhouse on the Pulda Farm; creating an online portal for the Department of Public Works for filing reports or requests; replacing the pump stations and associated software; constructing a new vehicle maintenance facility on Quarry Lane; the continuation of road patching; and working toward establishing new and expanding businesses.

No members of the public spoke during the public hearing.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.