The Mayor's Column
TOWNSHIP OF MONROE – 2016 BUDGET MESSAGEMay 02, 2016
In fulfillment of the requirements of the Faulkner Act, I am submitting the 2016 Municipal Budget recommendations. I would like to thank the Business Administrator, his staff and all Department Heads for their efforts in formulating this budget in my first year as Mayor.
The National economy is slowly improving, while the State economy continues to lag. For the seventh consecutive year, Municipal and School State Aid is continuing at a reduced level. New Jersey Homestead Rebates are also continuing at a significantly reduced level. The good news is the property tax revaluation in 2014 has stabilized the negative tax appeal impact. Local real estate sales are also at a much improved level.
Our tax collection rate was a superior 99.05% in 2015. We are achieving our goal of reducing our reliance on Utility Surplus Revenue by anticipating $2,000,000 less than used in 2015. For the seventh consecutive year, we were at or below the 2% tax levy cap.
The proposed Municipal Budget totals $54,202,832.63 (up 3.62%). As a result, the municipal tax rate is $.458/$100 assessed value. For a home with the average assessed value of $306,877, the annual municipal purposes taxes will total $1405.50 (not including School, County, Fire Districts or Library taxes).
Earlier this year, the Township Council reduced the local open space tax by $.01/$100 assessed value. This action is related to the ratable adjustment as a result of the township wide property revaluation in 2014. With the reduced tax, it is important to note that the actual dollars raised for open space will remain essentially the same. As a result of the open space tax reduction, there will be no overall increase in the municipal tax rate.
For the 25th consecutive year, there will be no increase in water & sewer rates, which remain among the lowest in Central New Jersey.
The 2016 Municipal Tax, which is the only portion of property taxes that are under the direct control of the Mayor & Council, is estimated at 20% of your total property taxes. The Board of Education makes up the largest portion of property taxes at 57%; the County at 17%; and the Fire Districts at 6%.
Noteworthy capital improvements that are planned to get underway in 2016 include the Prospect Plains Road Soccer Complex Improvements and the construction of a traffic signal at Perrineville and Federal Roads and the planning for another traffic signal at Matchaponix and Spotswood Gravel Hill Roads.
In January, our bond rating was upgraded by Standard & Poor’s from AA stable to AA positive. The Township’s financial management and budgetary practices were provided as primary reasoning by Standard & Poor’s for the upgrade. This helps reduce borrowing expenses for not only the Township – but for the Board of Education and Fire Districts, as well. As an example, the Township went out for a refunding issue and we anticipated present value savings of 4 to 6%. As a result of the rating upgrade and competitive bids the actual present value savings turned out to be 10.467%.
Monroe Township remains one of the premier residential communities in Central New Jersey with a beautiful and green landscape. We are very proud of our quality municipal services and schools. We are consistently recognized as one of the safest towns in New Jersey. Furthermore, Monroe Township remains only one of two communities in Middlesex County with a population density of less than 1,000 people per square mile. With continuing open space acquisitions to expand our existing 6,600 acres of open space and over 1,300 acres of farmland preservation, Monroe Township continues to work toward its goal of 50% undeveloped land in our community.
Our positive record of achievement is primarily due to a continued effort of everyone working together in a united way for the betterment of our Township – residents, employees and volunteers who serve on our boards & agencies provided dedicated service to all of our residents.