Middletown committee adopts $84M municipal budget for 2021


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MIDDLETOWN – The Township Committee has adopted Middletown’s 2021 municipal budget. The annual spending plan was adopted during a meeting on June 7.

Mayor Tony Perry, Deputy Mayor Rick Hibell, Committeeman Kevin Settembrino and Committeewoman Patricia Snell voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the budget.

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Committeeman Ryan Clarke was absent from the meeting.

The 2021 budget shows appropriations totaling $84.4 million. Middletown’s residential and commercial property owners will pay a local tax levy of $55.75 million to support municipal operations.

The 2020 budget had appropriations totaling $83.11 million. Middletown’s residential and commercial property owners paid a local tax levy of $55.77 million to support municipal operations.

Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lapp previously said that although appropriations have increased by $1.3 million from 2020 to 2021, the tax levy has decreased by $20,000.

“These are difficult times and every penny counts,” Perry said. “We look through the lens of the taxpayer in everything we do. The 2021 budget continues to invest in our first responders, in our infrastructure and in our parks. People look for that when they move to a town. I want to thank our staff for delivering this kind of budget in this kind of climate.”

No member of the public commented on the budget during the public hearing on the spending plan.

Township Committee meetings have been reopened to the public and continue to be broadcast live to the community as they had been during the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2020, the municipal tax rate was 48.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in Middletown was assessed at $447,629 and the owner of that home paid about $2,171 in municipal taxes.

In 2021, the municipal tax rate is projected to decrease to 46.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in Middletown is now assessed at $467,271 and the owner of that home will pay about $2,182 in municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill. Property owners also pay Middletown Township Public Schools taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

The amount an individual 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.

Middletown will receive $6 million in state aid to support the budget in 2021. That amount has remained flat since 2010, according to municipal officials.

Lapp said for each $1 in taxes that is paid by a property owner in Middletown, 62 cents goes to the school district, 23 cents goes to the municipality, 11 cents goes to the county, 2 cents goes to the Middletown library and 2 cents goes to open space.

Through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Middletown was allocated $3 million to be used over the next year to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, according to municipal officials.

Middletown officials offered the following 2021 budget facts:

• Middletown continues to realize savings through revenue-enhancing shared service agreements with other municipalities (including Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands and Holmdel), the Middletown Board of Education and Monmouth County;

• Middletown has a shared service agreement with Monmouth County for Community Development Block Grant management that enables the township to continue its housing rehabilitation program at reduced costs;

• Healthy reserves have permitted officials to reduce the budget lines for insurance by more than $1 million;

• Storm response costs increased by $970,000 due to an increase in the number of winter storms in 2021, coupled with reduced reserves due to the pandemic;

• Retirement costs increased by approximately $630,000. Municipal officials said this is a direct result of the state reducing the projected return on investment and increased retirement expenses;

• Contractual police salary increases of approximately $465,000.

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