Holmdel implements voter-approved increase in open space tax rate

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HOLMDEL – The members of the Township Committee have adopted an ordinance which implements an increase in Holmdel’s open space tax rate that was approved by residents who voted on a public question in November 2021.

The ordinance was adopted during the committee’s Feb. 8 meeting. Voting “yes” on a motion to adopt the ordinance were Mayor Greg Buontempo, Deputy Mayor Prakash Santhana, Committeewoman Cathy Weber, Committeeman D.J. Luccarelli and Committeeman Rocco Impreveduto.

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With the adoption of the ordinance, the tax rate that supports the Holmdel Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund will increase from 2.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation to 3.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.

Holmdel CFO William Antonides told the Independent that “the voter-approved increase to the collection rate of the trust fund is implemented and will be effective for all of 2022. Because the first two quarters of the year are estimated taxes, taxpayers will notice the adjustment starting in their tax bills for the third and fourth quarters of 2022.”

In accordance with state law, the trust fund may be used for the following purposes: the acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes; the development of lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes; the maintenance of lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes; the acquisition of farmland for farmland preservation purposes; historic preservation of historic properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas or objects, and the acquisition of properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas or objects for historic preservation purposes; Blue Acres projects; and the payment of debt service related to open space purposes.

Commenting on how the revenue that is generated by the open space tax rate is authorized to be spent, Luccarelli said while local flooding issues are important to consider, the trust fund’s primary use should be for the preservation of open space.

Regarding the history of the open space tax rate, in 1998, voters approved the creation and funding of the open space trust fund with a collection rate of 1 cent per $100 of equalized valuation.

In 2000, voters supported an increase in the collection rate to 2.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.

In 2021, voters supported an increase in the collection rate to 3.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.

During public comment, resident Wes Fagan spoke about taxation and noted that with home and property assessments increasing in Holmdel, property owners will pay more money into the open space trust fund because the open space tax rate – unlike the municipal tax rate that is adjusted as property assessments rise and fall – is a static rate that is not adjusted in concert with property assessments.

“Maybe it’s time to tap the brakes” on taxation, Fagan said.

He suggested that before officials institute the increase in the open space tax rate that they identify specific properties that would be targeted for preservation.

With an open space tax rate of 2.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation in place, the owner of a home assessed at $700,000 was paying about $175 per year into the open space fund.

With an open space tax rate of 3.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation in place, the owner of a home assessed at $700,000 will pay about $245 per year into the open space fund.

With an open space tax rate of 3.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation in place, the owner of a home assessed at $800,000 will pay about $280 into the open space fund.

The amount of money a property owner pays into Holmdel’s open space trust fund each year is dependent on the assessed value of his home and/or property and the open space tax rate that has been established.

According to Township Committee members, the increased revenue a higher open space tax rate will generate will fund the acquisition of open space parcels; improvements to open space and parkland properties Holmdel already owns; the maintenance of open space parcels; floodplain protection initiatives; farmland preservation; and the preservation of historic sites in the community.

Township Administrator Cherron Rountree previously said Holmdel’s open space tax generated about $1 million in revenue for those permitted uses in 2021. She said a higher open space tax rate would be expected to produce additional revenue for the open space fund on an annual basis.

In other business at the Feb. 8 meeting, Township Committee members passed a resolution accepting “with regret and appreciation,” the retirement of Police Chief John Mioduszewski, effective March 1.

Officials said Mioduszewski has been Holmdel’s police chief for more than a decade.

Capt. Frank Allocco has been appointed as acting police chief, effective March 1 and until further notice from the governing body.

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