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Fair Haven officials introduce $9.64 million municipal budget for 2020

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FAIR HAVEN – The Borough Council has introduced a $9.64 million budget to fund the operation of Fair Haven during 2020.

The budget was introduced on May 26. Council President Susan A. Sorensen, Councilman James Banahan, Councilwoman Elizabeth Koch, Councilman Michael McCue and Councilman Christopher Rodriguez voted “yes” on a motion to introduce the budget.

Councilwoman Meghan Chrisner-Keefe voted “no” on the motion to introduce the budget.

Asked to comment on the budget, Sorensen said, “In Fair Haven we consistently take the conservative approach with the budget and are very mindful of balancing managing this great community along with keeping tax increases to a minimum.

“This year was particularly challenging for our Finance Committee led by Councilman Banahan and Councilman Rodriguez, with some increases in costs, specifically in regard to recycling and garbage disposal, and a decrease in revenues that were outside of our control, along with continuously maintaining our level of investment in the borough,” Sorensen said.

The 2020 budget shows an appropriation of $399,000 under the line item Recycling and Landfill: Landfill/Solid Waste Disposal Costs. The 2019 appropriation for the same line item was $230,000.

Asked to comment on her vote, Chrisner-Keefe said, Tough times call for tough decisions and Fair Haven taxpayers are counting on their elected officials to be prudent.

“In the midst of a recession, I am opposed to a budget that increases taxation 10.4%. There is opportunity within the introduced budget to make downward adjustments and I am hopeful my fellow governing body members can appreciate the impact of such a significant tax increase in these uncertain financial times.

“I propose exploring opportunities to cut the pending tax increase by half. I would expect that cut to include some reduction of the capital improvement fund appropriation that is proposed to increase by about $600,000 this year for a total of $925,000 in our 2020 budget, as well as other expenditure adjustments.

“I acknowledge our capital needs and obligation to address them, however, some of the approved yet unfunded large-scale projects were conceived in prior years. Given these unexpected and uncertain times, Fair Haven taxpayers do not want us to over-commit financially. Our budget must reflect not where we used be, but where we are now.

“I hope my fellow council members can appreciate this unprecedented economic reality and we can work together to achieve mutually acceptable budget amendments,” Chrisner-Keefe said.

A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for June 23. Council members may adopt the budget following the public hearing.

Fair Haven’s residential and commercial property owners will pay $7.35 million in a local tax levy to support the 2020 budget, according to the budget document that has been posted on the borough’s website.

Other revenues in the 2020 budget include the expected receipt of $454,589 in state aid and the appropriation of $1 million from the borough’s surplus fund (savings).

Fair Haven’s 2019 budget totaled $9.47 million and was supported by the collection of $6.66 million in local property taxes. State aid was $454,580 and officials appropriated $1.36 million from the surplus fund.

From 2019 to 2020, total appropriations have increased by $170,000 and the tax levy has increased by $690,000.

In 2019, Fair Haven’s municipal tax rate was 37.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in the borough was assessed at $843,040. The owner of that home paid $3,136 in municipal taxes.

In 2020, Fair Haven’s municipal tax rate is projected to increase to 40 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in the borough is now assessed at $862,705. The owner of that home will pay $3,451 in municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes school taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

An individual pays more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Selected appropriations in the borough’s 2020 budget include the salaries and wages that will be paid to Fair Haven’s police officers, $1.63 million; and $102,400 for other police department expenses;

Also, $52,450 in aid to volunteer fire companies; $925,000 for the capital improvement fund; $954,000 for group insurance benefits; and $178,834 for general liability insurance.

During 2020, Fair Haven officials will pay $413,505 to the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System of New Jersey; $161,133 to the Public Employees Retirement System; and $155,000 to the Social Security System.

Municipal officials have appropriated $466,991 for streets and roads maintenance salaries and wages; and $343,400 for solid waste collection, according to the budget document.

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