OLD BRIDGE – The 2022 Old Bridge municipal budget “maintains and improves upon” services for the residents of the township, Mayor Owen Henry said.
“We all know that cost of doing business has increased dramatically over the last two years and we faced that head-on,” he said.
Township Council members adopted a $63.22 million budget after a second reading and public hearing on April 5. The budget increases municipal taxes and municipal library taxes by $34 from $1,661 in 2021 to $1,695 in 2022 for the average home in Old Bridge assessed at $154,908.
A higher assessed value of an individual’s home and/or property will yield a higher municipal property tax payment.
Old Bridge officials will collect $35.99 million in taxes from Old Bridge’s residential and commercial property tax owners in 2022 to help fund the municipal budget.
The budget that was adopted in 2021 totaled $62.55 million and included a $35.36 million tax levy. From 2021 to 2022, the total budget is up $673,356, or 1.08%, and the total amount to be collected from taxpayers is up $637,338.
Old Bridge will receive $6.27 million in state aid for 2022. Officials said state aid has remained flat since 2011. Officials will use $9.5 million from surplus funds (savings) as revenue in the budget in 2022. This will leave $3.36 million in cash fund balance to help with potential emergencies in 2022 and help stabilize taxes for 2023.
Business Administrator Himanshu Shah said the municipal tax rate is estimated at $1.010 per $100 of assessed valuation, which reflects a tax increase of $0.016 over 2021 at $0.994 per $100 of assessed valuation.
Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes Old Bridge school taxes, Middlesex County taxes, a library tax and a fire district tax.
The amount of taxes an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
Municipal taxes account for 19% of the total taxes that are paid by a property owner, Shah said.
Salaries and wages make up 40% of the municipal budget. That line item has increased by $1.64 million, 6.93%, from $23.62 million in 2021 to $25.26 million in 2022. Public safety (includes police) is the largest department/expenditure percentage of the budget at 24.22%, or $15.31 million.
In addition to contractual increases and minimum wage increases, the 2022 budget includes funding for three new full-time positions in the police department – patrol officer, dispatcher and video clerk.
Shah said over the past decade they have organically increased the number of police officers in the department. Ward 4 Councilwoman Jill DeCaro inquired about hiring a full-time police chief.
Longtime Old Bridge Police Chief William Volkert, retired on April 1, 2021. Captain Joseph Mandola was appointed to serve as acting police chief and had served in the role through March 31. Capt. Scott Gumprecht took over the role as acting police chief on April 1.
Township Attorney Mark Roselli said there have been a myriad of issues with the full-time position of police chief. Henry said despite the issues, the position is fully funded in the budget.
The budget also includes one new full-time position, an administrative assistant, in the Clerk’s Office; one new full-time position, a laborer, in the Department of Public Works; one new full-time position, a zoning officer, in Code Enforcement; one new full-time position, an office assistant, split between the Planning Department and the Department of Finance; and one new part-time position, an administrative assistant, in the Division of Economic Development.
The other expenditure category has increased by $136,191, 0.72%, from $18.86 million in 2021 to $18.99 million in 2022. The major increase under the expenditure category is health insurance, which increased by $92,061.
Revenues in the budget include energy tax receipt revenue at $6.27 million, which has remained flat from previous years and uniform construction code fees, which increased $240,000, 14.33%, from $1.68 million in 2021 to $1.92 million in 2022.
Revenues in municipal court fines and costs, interest on investments and deposits, miscellaneous revenues and receipts from delinquent taxes all saw decreases this year. The major decrease under miscellaneous revenues, which decreased by $1.86 million, 29.60%, from $6.29 million in 2021 to $4.43 million, was funds from the Cares Act.
Shah said that in addition to financial goals, officials have set non-financial goals, which include improving customer service with residents and focusing on better communication between departments.
For more information, visit www.oldbridge.com.