ALLENTOWN – While the Borough Council will not adopt Allentown’s municipal budget until the spring of 2020, the spending plan is well on its way to taking shape.
During a meeting on Nov. 26, Chief Financial Officer June Madden updated municipal officials and members of the public about her ongoing work to develop the document.
Madden said she is continuing to review the anticipated appropriation for each department in the borough. She said the 2020 budget will include raises for Allentown’s contracted employees.
A reduction in legal fees is expected in 2020 because in 2019 municipal officials reached a new contract agreement with the union that represents Allentown’s police officers and negotiations on that matter will not occur in the new year, Madden said.
The CFO said she anticipates a decrease in Allentown’s health insurance costs and Madden said two new employees may opt out of receiving benefits under the borough’s coverage, which would result in additional savings.
Police salaries and wages are anticipated to be up about $52,000 from 2019 to 2020 with the addition of a new officer and contracted raises, according to Madden, who said Allentown would shoulder a $14,400 increase in its annual police pension payment.
Madden told the council members they must determine which capital projects to undertake in 2020. She said she would continue to develop the 2020 budget before the spending plan is introduced and adopted by the council.
In 2019, the municipal budget totaled $2.48 million and was supported through the collection of $1.58 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners. The municipal tax rate was approximately 82.11 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $290,842 paid $2,388 in municipal taxes.
In 2018, the municipal budget totaled $2.47 million and was supported through the collection of $1.54 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners. The municipal tax rate was 79.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $290,270 paid $2,319 in municipal taxes.
Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill. Allentown property owners also pay Upper Freehold Regional School District taxes and Monmouth County taxes.
The amount a resident pays in property taxes is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
Officials have said that in Allentown, school taxes account for 62% of every $1 a property owner pays in taxes. Municipal taxes account for 26%, county taxes account for 11% and open space taxes account for 1%.
Martha Johnson and Dan Payson, who won three-year terms on the Borough Council in the November general election, were in the audience on Nov. 26 and listened to Madden discuss the budget on which they will vote after they join the governing body in January.
In other business at the Nov. 26 meeting, council President Thomas Fritts said a contract has been signed and construction could start this month on Allentown’s new waste water treatment plant infrastructure.
Fritts said the contractor is “ready to go” on a project that is expected to take 18 months to complete. The new facilities will update the existing waste water treatment plant on Breza Road.
Finally, council members said they are seeking to hire a part-time employee in the Department of Public Works. The position is 29 hours per week and the salary is $15 per hour. Interested individuals may contact Borough Hall for additional information.