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Fair Haven officials adopt $10M budget to fund borough in 2021

FAIR HAVEN – Members of the Borough Council have adopted a $10.08 million budget to fund the operation of Fair Haven during 2021.

The budget, which was adopted on June 14, will be supported by the collection of $7.64 million in taxes from the borough’s residential and commercial property owners.

Other revenue in the annual spending plan includes the appropriation of $1.25 million from the borough’s surplus fund (savings) and the receipt of $454,580 in state aid.

Fair Haven’s 2020 budget totaled $9.55 million and was supported by the collection of $7.25 million in local taxes, the appropriation of $1 million from the surplus fund and the receipt of $454,580 in state aid.

From 2020 to 2021, total appropriations have increased by $525,892 and the tax levy has  increased by $385,639.

In 2020, the municipal tax rate was 39.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in Fair Haven was assessed at $862,705 and the owner of that home paid about $3,407 in municipal taxes (0.395 x 8,627).

In 2021, the municipal tax rate is projected to be 40.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home in Fair Haven is now assessed at $883,808. The owner of that home will pay about $3,579 in municipal taxes (0.405 x 8,838).

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Fair Haven K-8 School District taxes, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School District taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

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

Selected appropriations in the 2021 budget include the following: public safety, $2.1 million; public works, $1.2 million; insurance, $1.2 million; general government, $1.1 million; statutory expenditures, $813,123; deferred charges, $550,000; reserve for uncollected taxes, $550,000; shared services, $537,360; debt, $497,650; landfill/solid waste disposal, $411,500; and utilities and bulk purchases, $239,600.

There are 32 full-time employees in Fair Haven, which includes 13 police officers, and 21 part-time employees.

Borough Council members Meghan Chrisner-Keefe, Michael McCue, Laline Neff and Christopher Rodriguez voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the budget.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Koch voted “no” on the motion and said, “I would like to thank the Finance Committee for all of their hard work.

“I know that when you prepare a budget like that, it takes a tremendous amount of effort and many hours, but I’m going to vote ‘no’ on behalf of all the hard-working families in Fair Haven.

“I felt there were areas where we could have trimmed the budget and provided some relief for our residents. That didn’t happen,” Koch said.

Councilwoman Suzanne McCabe, who had been appointed to the governing body at the previous meeting, abstained from voting.

Speaking in support of the budget, Mayor Benjamin Lucarelli said, “I think the first draft of the budget was about a 14.4% (tax) increase.

“I really want to thank the (Finance Committee) for their hard work and their vision going forward because they did even more than cost-cutting.

“I understand there were plans on working with each department to look at their view down the road and to start working out three-year and five-year plans to dovetail their capital wants and needs into the budget in a smooth process. I really appreciate that look and the consideration,” the mayor said.

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