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Freehold Township voters will be asked to increase open space tax rate

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – On Election Day, Nov. 8, Freehold Township voters will decide if municipal officials should increase the tax rate that funds the community’s open space trust fund.

In July, Township Committee members adopted an ordinance which authorized the public question to be placed on the ballot.

Voters will be asked if they want to increase the annual tax collection rate for Freehold Township’s open space, recreation, floodplain protection, and farmland and historic preservation trust fund by 1 cent per $100 of assessed valuation, from the current rate of 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Residents will have the option to vote “yes” or “no.” A simple majority will decide the outcome of the referendum.

Regarding the proposal to increase the open space tax rate – a move which would generate additional funding for open space purposes – Mayor Maureen Fasano said, “It has been a constant commitment of the Township Committee to preserve open space.

“To date, we have over 9,500 acres of open space, making us one of the most preserved municipalities in Monmouth County for open space. By having dedicated revenue, we can protect open space through direct purchase or farmland preservation.

“The increase of the open space tax rate from 3 cents to 4 cents (per $100 of assessed valuation) will provide a necessary tool in keeping our commitment to the wishes of the township residents by providing more buying power through increased funds,” Fasano said.

The average home in Freehold Township is assessed at $494,212 in 2022. With a local open space tax rate of 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in place, the owner of that home will pay about $148 into the open space trust fund this year.

The Nov. 8 referendum proposes increasing the local open space tax rate to 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. If the tax rate is raised to that level, the owner of a home that is still assessed at $494,212 in 2023 would pay about $198 into the open space trust fund.

In another example, with an open space tax rate of 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in place, the owner of a home that is assessed at $600,000 in 2022 will pay about $180 into the open space trust fund this year.

If the tax rate is raised to 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, the owner of a home that is still assessed at $600,000 in 2023 would pay about $240 into the open space trust fund.

The open space trust fund tax is one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes municipal taxes, Freehold Township K-8 School District taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes and a fire district tax.

Individuals pay more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of their home and/or property and the annual tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

According to the ordinance the committee members adopted in July, if the referendum is approved by voters on Nov. 8, the Township Committee will hold a public hearing to determine the allocation of the increased proceeds to the open space trust fund.

The increase would be intended to fund various purposes, including the acquisition of additional open space parcels and improvements to currently owned open space and parkland properties, according to the ordinance.

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