MANCHESTER – While the overall budget will go up, the Manchester municipal tax will decrease this year by about $30 for the average homeowner.
“Our budget is going up a little bit from last year. We’re about a million dollars more. That’s the bad news of the budget,” Mayor Kenneth Palmer said. “The good news is that we’re asking our resident taxpayers to pay over half-a-million dollars less.”
Council – with member James Vaccaro absent May 26 – adopted the $35,039,021.85 budget, of which $20.6 million will be raised in local taxes, a decrease of $566,000 from 2017. The overall budget increased $1.13 million from last year’s budget.
CFO Diane Lapp told The Manchester Times that the average homeowner, whose home is valued at $160,100, will have a municipal tax bill of $1,002.55. When comparing this average bill to last year’s, its important to note that median home values increased. That same home was valued at $158,500 last year, with municipal taxes of $1,031.04.
The tax rate was reduced from .651 to .626 this year.
The township ended 2017 with $7.5 million in surplus, $3.3 million of which was applied to its 2018 budget. The surplus has steadily climbed from a bit more than $2 million in 2012 to nearly $8 million in 2017.
Those numbers do not include the school or county taxes, over which neither the mayor’s administration nor council has control.
“I think at this time, Mayor Palmer should get some credit for keeping us well within the bounds of the municipal budget. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much,” Councilman Charles Frattini said at the end of Palmer’s budget presentation to a round of applause.
The capital improvement budget more than doubled to $1.1 million. The township will be purchasing a $700,000 fire truck for the Whiting Fire Department and spending $400,000 on paving projects, without bonding.
The township, as with every municipality, has statutory expenses dictated by the state. The pension contributions increased to $620,000 this year. Negotiated salaries increased by $493,000.
Salaries account for 43 percent of the municipal budget, insurance 15 percent, statutory spending 14 percent, operations 23 percent and debt 5 percent.
Council President Craig Wallis asked how Manchester compares with other municipalities on its debt service.
“Our debt is pretty low compared to everybody else,” Wallis said.
Lapp said she couldn’t compare Manchester with other towns, not knowing what their debt is, but that Manchester has much less debt than what it is allowed to have by law.
“I would say…we do very well with our debt,” Lapp said. “We’re starting to do a pay-as-you-go type financing that will help us out in the future too.”
State aid will remain stagnant at $3.22 million, although Palmer said that number may increase slightly with the inclusion of some last-minute grants the township received. As host community to the Ocean County Landfill, Manchester gets more than $1 million. Inspections, HIF refund and municipal court fines also bring in about $3.75 million.
Looking ahead, Palmer, who is up for reelection this year, said the township must start to plan for a new water tower (an addition to the one between Routes 70 and 37 near Colonial Drive), a pavement plan, and contract negotiations this year with several unions. Revitalizing the township parks is also on the agenda.
Other notable points in the budget include:
- The eastern water budget increased $20,000 to $2.55 million. Capital improvements will total $140,000.
- The eastern side sewer budget is $4.3 million, a reduction of $25,000.
- The western side water is $2.7 million, a reduction of $100,000.
- The western side sewer is $2.578 million, a reduction of $157,000.
A copy of the adopted budget can be found at bit.ly/2LUJ4bs.