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Marlboro council adopts $40 million municipal budget for 2020

MARLBORO – With a 4-0 vote from members of the Township Council, Marlboro’s municipal budget for 2020 has been put in place.

The $40 million budget was adopted on April 23 by council President Carol Mazzola, Councilwoman Randi Marder, Councilman Scott Metzger and Councilman Michael Scalea. Council Vice President Jeff Cantor was absent. No one from the public commented on the budget when given the opportunity to do so.

Under Marlboro’s form of government, the administration develops the budget and presents it to the council. The council members review and adopt the spending plan.

The $40 million budget that was adopted was unchanged from the document that was introduced on March 5. The spending plan will be supported by the collection of $28.49 million in taxes from Marlboro’s residential and commercial property owners. Other revenues will pay for the remaining $11.87 million in appropriations, according to municipal officials.

Prior to the adoption, Mayor Jonathan Hornik addressed the possible implications the COVID-19 pandemic could have on this year’s budget.

“We did not anticipate this (pandemic) two months ago,” he said. “We were congratulating each other on a slow snow year and then this virus hit. It reminds me of the old saying, ‘We plan and God acts.’

“Our capital budget and our operating budget are conservative. We are going to go forward with this budget as if this situation is going to pass, but that may need to change if this problem persists for a longer period of time.

“At the same time, until the smoke clears we will defer the acquisition of non-critical equipment and construction. We are in a holding pattern from a financial perspective and it’s the conservative approach we will have until we come out on the other side,” Hornik said.

Marlboro’s $39 million budget for 2019 was supported by the collection of $27.19 million in taxes from property owners. The budget used $5.5 million from the township’s surplus fund (savings) as revenue.

In 2019, the municipal tax rate was 37.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in Marlboro was assessed at $494,605. The owner of that home paid about $1,869 in municipal taxes.

In 2020, the municipal tax rate is projected to increase to 39.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home is now assessed at $495,093. The owner of that home will pay about $1,945 in municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill. Property owners in Marlboro also pay Marlboro K-8 School District taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, a fire district tax and Monmouth County taxes.

The total amount of property taxes an individual pays is based on the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

One of the largest line items in the municipal budget is the Marlboro Police Department. Police base salaries and wages in 2019 totaled $9.29 million. That amount is expected to increase to $9.37 million in 2020.

In 2019, $607,839 was budgeted for police operations. In 2020, the budget for police operations is $668,326.

In a budget statement, Hornik said, “The 2020 budgeted appropriations result in an overall increase in appropriations of $969,838, or 2.48%, inclusive of a one-time emergency appropriation approved in 2019 for the severe summer storm of July 22, 2019.

“Net of the emergency appropriation, the 2020 budget is proposed to increase by just 2% over 2019. There is nothing more important to me than the safety of our students and educators.

“To that end, the township’s school security partnership with both the K-8 and Freehold Regional school districts remains fully funded in this 2020 budget.

“The township’s mandated payment for the state pension system is fully funded, representing an increase of approximately $200,000,” the mayor said.

Hornik said the 2020 budget is under the state’s 2% tax levy cap by $1 million and under the state’s spending cap by $1.63 million.

Regarding capital improvements for 2020, he said, “We look forward to the state implementing improvements to main township intersections on the Route 79 corridor as part of the Route 79 reconstruction project.

“At no cost to local taxpayers, this project will result in a complete repaving of the highway and improvements to numerous intersections in Marlboro, including a combination of Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and traffic striping and signal modifications as warranted at School Road, Wyncrest Road, Tennent Road, Route 520, Ryan Road and Lloyd Road.

“Our capital plan will continue to focus on roads and improvements to walkways and traffic intersections to improve vehicle safety, as well as to enhance the walkability of our community.

“The Stattel farm properties at the busiest intersection in the township (Route 520 and Route 79) are part of a plan to connect and make key locations more accessible, including schools, the municipal complex and library, retail establishments and houses of worship,” the mayor said.

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