BYRAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - The 2013 proposed municipal budget was presented to the public at the recent township council meeting.
“Tonight’s meeting is for the council to ask any questions,” said Township Administrator Joseph Sabatini. “We are keeping the fund balance flat for next year.”
According to the 2013 Municipal Budget Message, “Municipalities are required by law to adopt balance budgets. Also, municipalities are obligated to the 2010 Cap Law (Levy Cap) that amended the 2007 cap to a two percent (2 percent) cap and modified exclusions. The general exclusions include: Increases in debt service and capital expenditures, weather and other ‘declared’ emergencies, pension contributions in excess of two percent, health benefit cost increases in excess of two percent and limited by the increase in State, health benefit increase (9.2 percent for 2013).”
The public and private revenues in the proposed budget for 2013 are as follows:
Current property taxes increased from 74.85 percent in 2012 to 75.39 percent, miscellaneous revenues decreased from 10.04 percent in 2012 to 9.77 percent, surplus decreased by 11.86 percent in 2012 to 11.66 percent, and delinquent taxes decreased from 3.25 percent in 2012 to 3.19 percent.
The fund balance as of December 31, 2012 totaled $1,940,138.44.
The message indicates the amount of Fund Balance committed to the 2013 budget is $1,240,102 (11.66% of total revenues) leaving a balance of $700,036.44.
According to the proposal, in 2012, the Township had one-time occurrences that supported the regeneration of fund balance increases of reserve balances.
Sources of One-Time Occurrences include:
- Miscellaneous Restitution (FEMA): $110,072.80 - 2011 storms
- Other Miscellaneous Revenues (NJHIF Dividend): $42,065.57
- One-Time Interfund: $161,943.78 ($150,000 Special Emergency Note charged to operations)
- Cancellation of Accounts Payable (2008): $44,291.31
Increases of Reserve Balances:
- The Township had a pay down of Sick and Vacation Leave Reserve in 2012 of $212,156.60 (two officers retired December 31, 2013 requiring payout for unused sick time, comp time and vacation = $196,318.35).
- The State of New Jersey Best Practice Initiatives expect the municipality to reserve at least the average of snow removal expenses incurred over a minimum of three years. The Township was able to increase the Snow Removal reserve $43,844.44 for a total of $118,844,44 but still falls significantly short of the yearly average (minimally $231,000).
The appropriations for the Township are as follows:
Utilities decreased 15 percent ($4,500), statutory expenditures (pensions) increased 6.58 percent ($52,203), group insurance increased 12.99 percent ($198,873), workers compensation and general liability increased 2.53 percent (+$6,579), solid waste decreased 4.63 percent (-$32,500), Musconetcong sewer fees decreased 28.99 percent (-$20,000), debt service increased 2.72 percent (+$10,805), Capital Improvement Fund increased 132.14 percent (+$74,000).
The proposal states, “The 2013 Municipal budget calls for an estimated municipal rate increase of .862 for each $100 of assessed value using the valuation of $930,211,700. This increase represents an estimated $59.02 annual municipal tax increase for the average assessed home of $253,116.”
A table was put together to show the summary for the 2013 tax rate.
The average assessed home is $253,116, the tax rate is .862, municipal taxes are $2,181.86 showing the $59.02 tax increase, open space taxes of $30.37 with a $2.54 increase, and the total municipal taxes showing $2,212.23 with a $61.56 increase.
The cap base for 2013 is 3.5 percent and is used to establish the Cap bank which is “the banking of any unappropriated balance. Cap bank balances from 2011 and 2012 are available for use in 2013.”
Councilman Carlos Luaces was mostly concerned with being under the two percent.
Luaces stated he had a lot of confidence in the township broker, Frank Cavelli, to get a lower quote for employee health insurance.
‘I don’t understand why this wasn’t brought up at the budget meetings,” said councilman Scott Olson.
Luaces had stated that he was working, and could not make the meeting.
Olson and councilwoman Marie Raffay, also the acting deputy mayor filling in for mayor Jim Oscovitch who was absent, had clarified there were four workshop sessions held since August 2012.
Luaces had compared Byram Township to Vernon Township, which have recently shown in their 2013 budget, a decrease in taxes for the second year in a row.
“It has been a tremendous effort going out for quotes in the beginning of this year. Our problem is our census,” stated Sabatini, in regard to the township being a different population from Vernon’s.
The summary of the proposed budget reads, “The challenge with this budget and future budgets is to be able to maintain the same level of services for the Township residents while costs continue to increase, the growth of the Township’s ratable base remains restricted. State Aid is reduced and miscellaneous revenues decrease. As references in the list of appropriations with significant increases, most of the expenses are beyond the direct control of the Township.
The 2013 municipal budget, as presented, maintains current service levels that residents have come to expect which adds to the quality of life for all taxpayers in Byram.”
Afterwards, a citizen addressed the council, “The summary was depressing and has been for the past few years.”
A public meeting for the adoption of the budget will be presented at the next April 9 township council meeting.
In other business:
Former mayor Skip Danielson, who regularly attends the town council meetings, had a heart attack last week, which he is currently being hospitalized for. The council wished all the best for Danielson and his family.
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