JACKSON – Township officials introduced Jackson’s $49.37 million budget which will be partly supported by the collection of $34.26 million in taxes from the community’s residential and commercial property owners.
The Council plans to use $5.95 million from the township’s surplus fund as revenue in this year’s spending plan.
The total amount of property taxes an individual pays is calculated by the assessed value of their home and/or land and the tax rate that is established by each taxing entity. The 2021 municipal tax rate is projected to be 50.1 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home is now assessed at $329,181 and the owner of said home will now pay about $1,649 in municipal taxes.
Business Administrator Terence Wall unveiled the budget through a PowerPoint presentation during a recent Township Council meeting. The Council unanimously voted to introduce the budget which features a public hearing on May 11. Residents will have the opportunity at that time to ask questions about any aspect of the spending plan.
Last year, the Council adopted a $47.54 million budget that was supported in part by the collection of $33.6 million in taxes from the township’s residential and commercial property owners.
Wall explained that the governing body used $4.8 million from the township’s surplus fund (savings) as revenue in last year’s budget. The municipal tax rate in 2020 was 49.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home was assessed at $328,520 and the owner of that home paid approximately $1,616 in municipal taxes.
“This document will be on the (Jackson Township) website so if there are questions from this evening’s meeting prior to the public hearing I’ll be happy to answer any of those questions,” Wall said.
Wall noted that the budget was prepared through the township’s financial department and with Mayor Michael Reina as well. “Every single tax dollar has four different levels of approval to make sure every single dollar is spent wisely and consistent with the direction of the mayor and the governing body.”
“This is a year-round process. It is introduced, subject to adoption and then through the year we track that budget and make sure we stay on budget. We come in, typically, under budget each year by millions of dollars,” Wall added.
Wall noted that in the last year, total appropriations were up $1.83 million and the local tax levy is up $660,000. “These are items we anticipated but they just came in higher. When a lot of towns shut down last year we opened up. There are many things we did to take positive advantage of the different dynamics going on.”
“We revamped the website completely and introduced software to make the offices run smoother so folks didn’t have to come into the town hall if they didn’t want to. Many towns are still closed we opened last June,” Wall said.
He reminded residents that the spending plan would fund all the operations of the township including the Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the administration of government, employee health benefits, insurance, payments to employee pension funds, the repayment of debt and other areas.
“The State of New Jersey dictates the budget process and how we do it and the financial managing practices that are used by municipalities. The Department of Community Affairs approves our budget so we can’t introduce or pass a budget unless the state passes muster on it. We are audited every single year,” Wall added.
Wall explained the difference between the operating budget and capital budget and how it applies to the overall municipal spending plan. “The operating budget is the every day expenses you would typically see on your bill list. With the capital budget think of trucks, police vehicles, buildings things that have a useful life, for example for a home you would have a mortgage. Things that are capitalized we would do streets and roads. Things of that nature.”
He noted that the budget is organized into two expense categories, salary and wage which are tied into collective bargaining arrangements and salaries and other day-to-day expenses. The budget must always balance revenues and expenses.
“We collect taxes for the county, the Board of Education, the fire districts and of course the township. The township budget being a fairly modest portion of all these budgets. The County, Board of Education and fire districts receive 100% that is anticipated whether it is collected or not and the municipality covers any gap with what is called the reserve from collected taxes,” Wall said.