By Mark Bator and Alyssa Riccardi
HOWELL – Appearing before the Mayor and Council, Township Manager Brian Geoghegan presented a proposed budget of $55,562,000 for 2022, which represented a $719,000 increase over the 2021 fiscal year. The public hearing on the spending plan was officially set by council members for May 10, during which residents can comment on it.
Geoghegan, who had met with each council member individually prior to the April 5 meeting, advised: “As a reminder for the governing body, and the public as well, this is only the municipal portion of your taxes.”
Working from 30 slides in a PowerPoint presentation, Geoghegan outlined the projected 2022 expenditures.
“A significant portion of that is salaries,” Geoghegan explained. In addition to allocating funds for the hiring of five new township employees (two full-time EMTs, one police patrolman, one laborer and one EMS supervisor), the proposed budget incorporates an increase in township salaries and wages of $640,388 for the new fiscal year, totaling $25,303,961. “That is the single largest part of our budget.”
While the proposed budget did meet with the council’s overall approval, there were suggestions made at the conclusion of Geoghegan’s presentation. Councilman John Bonevich expressed his interest in having the township’s demolition program budget increased while Councilwoman Suzanne Brennan saw the need for updating the township’s website. Both of these suggestions would likely add another $35,000 to the overall budget, according to rough estimates discussed by the Council.
The governing body all voted “yes” on a motion to introduce the budget. It would need to be voted on again during the May 10 meeting to finalize it.
A total of $30.28 million in a local tax levy to be paid by Howell’s residential and commercial property owners will be collected to support the 2022 budget. Officials will use $4.86 million from the surplus fund as revenue in the budget this year.
Compared to last year, the spending increased over $100,000 from the 2021 $55.45 million budget, Township Manager Brian Geoghegan said. In addition, the tax levy has increased by $1.08 million.
The spending plan does not include taxes to be levied to fund Howell Township K-8 school district, the Freehold Regional high school district, county levies or fire districts. While the township collects taxes for these entities, they don’t control their spending.
The tax rate will be 38.82 cents per $100 of assessed property value, which is a decrease over the previous year. This was possible due to the current real estate market, which has increased property values 11.84% township wide.
“That was a big story over the past several months as you are aware,” said Geoghegan, “with being part of the county assessment demonstration program and real estate market values lately booming.”
The average home is now assessed at $416,890. Homeowners may see an estimated increase of $58 in the municipal tax levy, using the average home assessment as a guide.