NORTH BRUNSWICK – Municipal taxes are set to increase about $58 for the average homeowner in North Brunswick.
The budget for Fiscal Year 2020, as adopted, is $50.35 million and includes a $6.64 million payment for debt service.
The municipal tax levy is $32.63 million, with a municipal tax rate of $1.30 per $100 of assessed valuation, a 3.5-cent increase over the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.
The average home in North Brunswick is assessed at $159,331. With a municipal tax rate of $1.30, the owner of a home assessed at that amount will pay $2,071 in municipal taxes, a $58.10 increase over the previous year.
Municipal taxes are one item on a property tax bill, which also includes North Brunswick school taxes and Middlesex County taxes. The amount of taxes a property owner pays is determined by the assessed value of the individual’s home and/or property and the tax rate that is established by each taxing entity.
In Fiscal Year 2019, revenue increased by $100,000 due to an upward trend in certificates of occupancy and from permits and fees from the construction office, Assistant Business Administrator Justine Progebin said during the public hearing and adoption of the budget on Sept. 3.
On the appropriations side, the medical and prescription plans merged, leading to a reduction in anticipated allocations, Progebin said.
Whereas $5,000 was budgeted in the tax appeal reserve, $375,000 was in the account by year’s end; the snow trust increased from $95,000 to $327,000; the payout plan for employee compensation, due mostly to police officer retirements, began at $250,000, but ended at $771,000; and grants increased from $991,000 to $2.34 million, mostly because of funding from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to pave Finnegans Lane off Route 130.
Last year, the Finance Department reduced manpower by one full-time position, brought collection of payments for the water utility in-house, achieved a Fiscal Year 2018 clean audit report with no recommendations, maintained the township’s AA+ rating with a positive outlook for the debt rating, kept surplus 10% over appropriations, and settled tax appeals without any cash payouts.
The Department of Community Development has paved 40 of the township’s 80 miles of roads since 2004; celebrated the grand opening of the Courtyard Marriot, Halal Guys, Wendy’s, Chase Bank, Hobby Lobby, Trader Joe’s and the Crescent Apartments; and secured a Local Freight Impact Funding grant for Finnegans Lane.
The Department of Public Works took over parks and municipal property maintenance, while also renovating the office area to make it more accessible to the public, Progebin said.
The North Brunswick Police Department reported a reduction in vehicle burglaries from 132 to 42 and a reduction in residential burglaries from 34 to 13. The clearance rate of crimes cleared by arrest or charges is 60% in North Brunswick, whereas the national average is between 13% and 35%.
The police department became accredited, enhanced its Adopt a Cop program, implemented LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) and established a new Humane Law Enforcement division.
The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services expanded its online software program for registration and payments.
Moving forward to Fiscal Year 2020, there is a slight increase in the use of surplus funds, from $3.34 million to $3.62 million, and a $6,000 reduction in general revenue.
Grant funding is estimated at $703,000, but Progebin said that number changes throughout the year as additional grants are secured. There is a $23,000 increase in the library tax, plus a $950,000 increase in the tax levy.
Regarding the appropriations increase, Progebin said it is due to a 7% increase in pensions, mostly from police and fire; a 16% increase in debt obligations; and an increase in animal control services due to a shared service with New Brunswick that is being negotiated. However, health insurance and salaries/wages have decreased.
The police, fire and EMS radio system will join the Middlesex County system as part of a $2 million upgrade. Community Development will continue paving projects, including part of Livingston Avenue. The first age-restricted adult community to be built in North Brunswick will be constructed along Route 130.
Water meters throughout town will be replaced for the first time since 1997. A new municipal website will include PDF fill-in forms and online payments. The Parks and Maintenance Division purchased an aerial truck and salt grinder, according to municipal officials.