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‘We are still in a very good place’

Cranbury Township will use surplus to 'keep the tax rate flat'

Cranbury Township officials project the tax rate will remain flat this year as they work on putting together the 2024 municipal budget.

Township Administrator Denise Marabello said the township will use $1.76 million in surplus for 2024 to “keep the tax rate flat” during a Township Committee budget meeting on Jan. 27.

The municipal tax rate including the municipal library rate is projected to be 38 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which would be the same as the previous two years.

The owner of an average assessed home at $606,563 in 2023 paid $2,304 in municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes school taxes and Middlesex County taxes.

The amount an individual pays in taxes is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Marabello said the township used $2.28 million of surplus in the previous year and replenished surplus with $1.8 million.

“… We used more than we replenished which does happen, but that is something we keep an eye on,” she said. “If you continually do that, you run out and you do not want to do that.

“But we are still in a really good place using the $1.76 million, which includes $350,000 put aside for any of these capital projects we want to use it for. Or anything additional that might come up during the year, such as the purchase of property or things like that.”

Marabello went on to explain that the township will still have $6 million sitting in surplus after Cranbury utilizes the $1.76 million in surplus for the 2024 municipal budget.

“I estimate how much I think we are going to replenish based on what is left in my budget from two years ago,” she said, noting the operating budget from two years ago rolls into surplus and she takes into account what added assessments there may be based on the tax assessors’ estimate and the increase in assessed value.

During the meeting, Committeeman Mike Ferrante noted the township’s use of $1 million in surplus for road repairs in 2023, which he said dipped “our surplus quite a bit.”

Marabello said as they move forward, they should not be as aggressive as they were with surplus the previous year for road repairs, because the township is not replenishing all of the surplus.

“We can take a look again in 2025, because we may have some fees from the cannabis [business] from that point,” she said. “But I don’t know what that is going to be and when that is going to start rolling in.”

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