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Home Featured Freehold Township voters deciding open space tax rate question

Freehold Township voters deciding open space tax rate question

Freehold Township voters deciding open space tax rate question

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Voting has begun on a public ballot question that will, if approved by voters, increase the local open space tax rate in Freehold Township by 1 cent per $100 of assessed valuation.

Election Day is Nov. 8, but mail-in ballots are being filled out and returned now and in-person early voting between Oct. 29 and Nov. 6 will precede in-person voting on the first Tuesday in November.

A public question on the ballot asks voters if Freehold Township should increase its open space tax rate from 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Residents have the option to vote “yes” or “no.” A simple majority will decide the outcome of the referendum.

The open space tax rate generates revenue on an annual basis 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 November ballot.

Voters are being 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 from the current rate of 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Regarding the proposal – 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 public 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.

If the referendum is approved by voters, 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 municipal officials.

Residents may vote in the following manner:

• At their local polling place on Election Day. Registered voters can cast their ballot in person at their polling place, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Accommodations will be made for voters who have a disability. Go to Vote.NJ.Gov for polling places, listed on the Polling Locations page;

• In-Person Early Voting. This option enables all registered voters to cast their ballot in person, using a voting machine, during a nine-day period prior to Election Day. Voters can choose to vote, in person, when it is most convenient for their schedule.

No matter where a voter lives in their county, they can cast their specific ballot at any of their county’s designated in-person early voting locations. County locations can be found at Vote.NJ.Gove.

In-person early voting locations will be open from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6. Hours will be Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Accommodations will be made for voters who have a disability;

• Vote By Mail Ballot. Registered voters can apply for a vote by mail ballot by following the instructions found at Vote.NJ.Gov or by contacting their county clerk.

Return options include:

• Mail: The ballot must be postmarked on or before 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and received by their county Board of Elections on or before Nov. 14;

• Secure Ballot Drop Box: Place the ballot in one of their county’s secure ballot drop boxes by 8 p.m. Nov. 8. Drop box locations can be found at Vote.NJ.Gove;

• Board of Elections Office: Deliver the ballot in person to the county Board of Elections office by 8 p.m. Nov. 8. County election officials contact information can be found at Vote.NJ.Gov;

Vote by mail ballots cannot be returned to polling places or to early voting locations, according to a press release from New Jersey Votes.